This blog is inspired by the book "In Search of Christian Freedom" by former governing body member Ray Franz..HIGHLY recommended for JW's and ex JW's.First Read "Crisis of Conscience" then this one.
Though there are many other groups who evangelize,some of which do it door to door,no other group but the JW's place such an emphasis on doing so as evidence of the genuiness of one's Christianity and faith.
The WT certainly imposes guilt on individual JW consciences if they do not participate enough in this "field ministry."They kind of speak out of both sides of their mouth.On one hand,they say not to compare your activity in the field service to others' activity.But THEN they will, out of the other side of their mouth,say that ones who aren't active enough and who don't attend every meeting when they're physically able are spiritually weak and bad associations.Talk about a guilt trip and an imposition on one's conscience,sly and unwarranted.Sort of similar to the Pope making his followers feel guilt for failure to attend Mass regularly.
Even though the bible makes it clear that there is absolutely NOTHING we can do to earn our salvation because ONLY the blood of the Lamb of God can accomplish that,WT literature makes things such as the following loud and clear for their followers:
"It is by our endurance in proclaiming "this good news of the kingdom" that we may attain to salvation."~WT 7/15/1979
So right off the bat,an apropos question would be :Why as a JW do you buy in to this?Do you believe like the WT teaches that we cannot "attain to salvation" without enduring in the kind of preaching activity just as they set it out?If the bible is true and there's nothing we can do to buy our salvation..no work at all..then wouldn't that fact render statements like these as outright lies?Yes,faith produces good works..so why doesn't the WT organization trust the rank and file to have enough faith to produce works that satisfy individuals' consciences and their proddings?And that may include SOME OTHER way of sharing the good news.
To quote Ray Franz:
"There is little doubt that the majority of JW's have come to accept the teaching that this particular method of door-to-door witnessing is a God-ordained one,that it was the method used by Christ and his disciples,and that it is the best and most effective way to accomplish a worldwide preaching of the good news in our time."~"In Search of Christian Freedom" p. 208
Sometimes,people are arrested for this activity and have to leave behind their familes.One POIGNANT example is Nancy Yuen who(a while ago )left 4 children,one of whom was only 1 yr. old,was detained for 4 yrs.,then finally sentenced.Another JW,a schoolteacher,also with 4 children,was arrested.
Apparently,because of WT literature,these women,who faced the intense and frightening prospect of being separated for an indefinite amount of time from their children,assumed that this particualr method of preaching was necessary,as if there aren't alternative methods,some even superior possibly.The organization hailed Nancy in an article for her being willing to go to prison for the door to door activity so apparently they approve of viewing this particular preaching method as a NECESSARY method if one is physically able at all.Nancy Yuen,after being arrested 6 times,wasn't reunited with her family for TWENTY-THREE YEARS.By that time,her children were grown.
She stated "I had to give up everything,even my little children to be loyal to God."
Was she really being loyal to God or men?Could she have possibly found some other method of reaching people with "the good news of God's kingdom" and been able to be there for her family and serve God outside imprisonment?Was she possibly influenced by repetition and reiteration in WT literature such as this?:
"The dedicated one MUST BE a house-to-house witness as was Christ Jesus and his apostles to the extent of his ability."-WT 7/01/1955
"Thousands have experienced arrest and imprisonment simply because they felt under obligation to maintain that method of spreading their message in the face of contrary legal restriction."-Ray Franz "In Search of Christian Freedom" p. 212
Through letters to the society,circuit overseers and others have expressed THEIR conscientious concerns about the society itself imposing guilt on people for not living up to their manmade objectives.
Witnesses are taught to either attend every meeting,go in field service as much as is humanly possible and to read and study EVERY publication or they just aren't doing enough.They are then labelled as weak and made to feel unworthy if these objectives aren't fully met.Is it encouraging or burdensome to have such heavy loads?What about families who have numerous obligations and people who have to work a lot or elders who have too many responsibilities to realistically fulfill the expectations they hear and read about constantly in WT publications?
A circuit overseer said in a letter he sent to the society in regards to the aftermath of circuit overseer visits:
"These talks many times have the effect of beating a faithful and tired horse that already feels overworked."
Now before I continue,I want to make something clear.I don't condemn door to door activity nor the declaration of the good news of God's kingdom in the manner the apostles accomplished it.But obviously it is of the utmost importance to "make sure of all things,"to see if there are any other possible interpretations of the texts JW's incorporate to insist that a literal door to door ministry is that of which the apostles partook.Is it POSSIBLE the WT has mislead their followers?Let's see.
Acts 5:42 And every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.
Acts 20:20:I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house.
JW's automatically assume this is a literal consecutive going from door to door.
To quote Ray:
"A person can go from house to house by going from a home in one area to a home in another area,just as a doctor making "house calls" might go from home to home.It does not at all require the idea of consecutive door-to-door visitation." p.214
In Acts 2:46: And day after day they were in constant attendance at the temple with one accord, and they took their meals in private homes and partook of food with great rejoicing and sincerity of heart
In that text the same distributive sense of the greek word KATA appears just like it does in Acts 5:42,yet the NWT renders a distinction.
"Because it is illogical to think that the disciples' taking meals was done by going from one house to the next on down the street ,and since the WT society wishes that particular sense to attach to the phrase "from house to house" (in support of its door to door activity) it does not want to raise probable questions by using the rendering "house to house" here.As stated,most Witnesses do not realize this switching of renderings and the WT society prefers not to call attention to it or address it openly."-p.215
In other words,in the texts where house to house is used,another possible rendering is,according to the society's own interlinear and interpretation in other texts,"in private homes."It isn't that house to house is a poor translation at all..It's perfectly acceptable.What is iffy is attaching a meaning to it that,given some evidence,may not be the proper honest one.
"That the apostles and other early Christians visited people in their private homes is clear.That they engaged in door-to-door activity as done by JW's today is definitely NOT clear.It is a claim with absolutely no supporting proof."-p.215
Before you as a JW label this man as insane,keep in mind he was a member of the governing body and made it his mission to examine this and the society's claims diligently and thoroughly.
Matthew 10:9 Do not procure gold or silver or copper for your girdle purses, 10 or a food pouch for the trip, or two undergarments, or sandals or a staff; for the worker deserves his food. 11 “Into whatever city or village you enter, search out who in it is deserving, and stay there until you leave. 12 When you are entering into the house, greet the household; 13 and if the house is deserving, let the peace you wish it come upon it; but if it is not deserving, let the peace from you return upon you. 14 Wherever anyone does not take you in or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city shake the dust off your feet.
JW's say that searching out people signifies going door to literal door to find those receptive to WT teachings."Stay there until you leave" is rarely addressed in the literature.My opinion is because they know that,after various discussions within governing body meetings and concerns raised,that these texts are about OBTAINING LODGING.Clearly,this doesn't demand the view that Christ and the apostles actually went door to door in the same current JW fashion,but rather only demands that they visited private homes to obtain lodging in this instance,being instructed to stay where they were received hospitably.Makes sense huh?Certainly makes more sense than the WT interpretation to me personally after examining the context.
To quote the WT:
"The carrying of the kingdom message from house to house in printed form, and presenting this to the people, is too humiliating for such self-important ones...Even today there are those who, from time to time, find the field service a drudgery and attending meetings tedious. This is what can happen when we lose our fear of Jehovah and, along with it, our love for him.
The article goes on to say:How sad the outcome is for those who lose the fear of God! They lack appreciation for the undeserved privilege of having a relationship with the Sovereign of the universe." -WT 12/01/1987
Apparently,the WT thinks we don't fear or love or even have a relationship with God if we don't hand out their magazines door to door.And this is the kind of rhetoric that is pretty constant in the publications.Obviously,this is intimidating and manipulating.Just another example of them comparing fully meeting their manmade requirements and policies to pleasing God himself.No matter how the bible may lack support for all their claims.Where does Jehovah say you don't love or fear or even know him if you don't hand out WT literature door to door?Interesting indeed that these quotes in the 1987 publication were quotes from a 1937 publication that was written by Judge Rutherford who took no part in door-to-door activity.
The WT writes all their articles about house to house activity with deceptive rhetoric to mold the holy texts to THEIR OWN ideal,instead of presenting ALL the facts.That isn't right.
Sharing the good news IS vital. HOW it is actually done is not as vital as they would have you believe.It can be done at work,in public,through internet,in casual conversations with family or friends or strangers..a NUMBER of ways.
As Ray points out,the other 30 accounts where the word "house" or "home" occurs should be of interest.And it is always in relation to LODGING or GATHERING.There is no single instance of disciples going from one door to the very next door in succession.The Greek phrase "katoikin" is used 4 times in reference to the believers gathering in the disciples private homes.Just more evidence that "house to house" probably connotes these types of gatherings.
Luke 10:7:Do not be transferring from house to house.
This phrase makes sense only if one understands that the context is Jesus exhorting his disciples to search suitable homes for lodging and remaining there once its found.Conveniently,the WT isolates surrounding texts and largely ignores the points they don't like altogether and the implication in this one..Or imposes their own interpretation on them that makes little sense.It CLEARLY says NOT to transfer from house to house.What it DOESN'T say is TO transfer from house to house after a few minutes in one where one receives the WT literature hospitably.
KATO is distributive,not consecutive.Meaning the disciples visited homes but not necessarily literally knocking on door after literal door.But rather going to find lodging,visiting those they've met publicly,or congregating in homes,depending on where we are in scripture.In Acts 20:20,equally as many a number of translations render "house to house" as "in private homes" or "at home."
Was Jesus giving instructions on preaching activity or as to obtaining lodging?
To quote Ray
"The disciples ALREADY KNEW how Jesus "witnessed" for they had been with him and observed his example.Their own accounts say nothing of his going from house to house but DO relate his speaking in synagogues,marketplaces and other public places and of his accepting invitations to particular homes and speaking to people present there."-p.226,footnote.
It can only be viewed as intellectual dishonesty that the WT never once presents alternative interpretations(superior imo),but rather hides what they've learned through study and governing body meeting discussion on the topic with continual circular reasoning and positive statements in their literature,shamelessly.Surely as reasonable JW's you can discern that the way men assert their views in such a positive and charismatic and single minded fashion can fool and blind the readers or listeners to think there is no other option or interpretation.Secular Christian books and orthodox sermons accomplish about the same thing for millions of Christians.JW's recognize the deception there but not within their own organization.
Keep in mind the disciples publicly preached FIRST then went to the private homes of ones they had met publicly preaching.A good example is Lydia who Paul met in public then went to her home as a guest.These accounts in no way support a WT interpretation.None of these biblical accounts where disciples are made,and they are numerous,indicate that it was from door to door activity.In Luke's eyewitness accounts,he gives evidence of MANY becoming believers and it was as a result of public talks in public places in a public manner.The 3,000 at Pentecost became believers THAT VERY DAY(another thing that is supposedly impossible in the world of the Watchtower where it takes seemingly forever to be acceptable enough to get baptized.)These ones were not responding to door to door activity either.All those who became disciples became acquainted with those who helped them in public somewhere.If homes were involved,it was by invitation most likely.
Questions from Ray,in my own words:
Where had Paul borne witness about repentance toward Yah and faith in the Messiah?From door to door activity?OR in public places,mainly synagogues?When homes WERE involved,had he gone there in door to door activity ,or had he in each case been invited to that specific home?Could this be what Jesus meant when he said to stay in the homes of "worthy persons?"
Paul found believers publicly and then THEREAFTER went to their homes to give personalized instruction.This seems to be what all the evidence as a whole suggests,so why does the WT fail to recognize or report this?Could they fear a drop in door to door activity if they release all the pressure in accomplishing the ministry via this method,and,essentially,a great loss of money since they make so much through literature used in the field ministry?Could they fear a shaking of their empire?
Only a small fraction of the enormous volume of WT publications distributed actually get read.However,the volume put out gives an impression of a greater worldwide witness than is actually accomplished.The apostle Paul taught in private homes where he was invited which starkly contrasts the Jehovah's Witness method of brief preaching,handing out of literature,and RARELY teaching,usually not even getting past the doorstep.When they do,it doesn't exactly constitute a "bearing of thorough witness about repentance and faith in the Lord" but rather a hoping that the "householder" will read the WT publications.Which cannot do the wonders or offer the whole truth and nothing but the truth that holy scripture can.
As for feelings of empathy that JW's claim they have for the people they're trying to reach,Ray says:
"The very fact that Witnesses are trained to think of the people they visit as "worldlings,"to discount any profession of spirituality on their part as not genuinely Christian,and to view only those few who respond as "sheeplike,"certainly hinders any true empathetic feelings.Even if a person is suffering due to severe problems and needs,rarely will the Witness concern himself with anything other than seeking to place literature or making a convert."-p.233
I might add a convert to an organization and not to Christ because the organization forbids almost every JW from actually being in Christ.
Fact is,there is stronge evidence that most people become JW's through family or friends or informal witnessing at work or elsewhere and not in the door to door activity at all.There is simply too much emphasis placed on hours,time sheets and magazine placement as if it is more meaningful than love,faith and reaching out without legalism and burden attached.An honest ministry should be accomplished out of faith and love as opposed to fear of being perceived as spiritually weak or not Christian enough.And if as a JW,you claim the WT uses no such intimidation or fear tactics,I can offer my testimony that I WAS influenced by the propaganda in the literature to do more,do more,do more or be unworthy of my brothers and sisters and Jehovah's love.I was motivated by imposed fear along with my faith and love in Jehovah.I did feel stress and pressure.Not from Jesus,whose load is light,but from WT literature inspired by legalistic men.
My intentions here are not to emphasize that the JW's are doing something wrong by going door to door.But rather to get them to think about the possibility that they have been misled by men who hide the actual most logical interpretations of the texts that they use constantly to instill fear in JW's that if they do not accomplish their ministry in this particular manner that they aren't really "Christian."Obviously,the society wholeheartedly portrays this method as vital and fundamental to their very existence as Christians.That is both dishonest and sketchy.They're hiding a lot.They have secret meetings the rank and file will never know about where they have discussed these matters and are well aware that these texts don't prove a literal going door to door of the apostles but rather a visiting of private homes to either obtain lodging or visit ones they met in synagogues or in public or to meet in humble Christian home gatherings.That simple.
Other valid interpretations that convey the sense of what actually occurred given all the evidence,the contexts,and all the biblical records:
Acts 20:20:I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes.(New Living Translation)
And how I kept back nothing which might be of profit to you, teaching you publicly and privately,(Bible in Basic English)
and that I never shrank from declaring to you anything that was profitable, or from teaching you in public and in your homes,(Weymouth NT)
Acts 5:42:And every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as the Christ.(American Standard Version)
And every day, in the Temple and privately, they went on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.(Bible in Basic English)
But they did not desist from teaching every day, in the Temple or in private houses, and telling the Good News about Jesus, the Christ.(Weymouth NT)
Every day, in the temple and at home, they never stopped teaching and preaching Jesus, the Christ.(World English Bible)
Of course I encourage individual JW research to make the truth your own.It isn't ok for men to hide all the facts,ignore the most logical interpretations,and to build and maintain a facade that enslaves people to a particular manmade policy that has sent some people to prison and holds others captive to the concept that they're not even Christian or decent if they don't follow the rules in WT literature and the instruction given at kingdom hall podiums to the letter.May your faith in and love for Yaheweh guide you all to share the good news in whatever capacity you feel compelled,making converts to Yeshua,to be born again in him(or you've no way to enter the kingdom) as opposed to converts to an organization that cannot save you like the Messiah can.Don't let men nor a latter day manmade organization insist to you it's your Messiah.A "mother organization" is an idol.My intention here is not to criticize an organization just for the heck of it but to wake up JW's misled by blind guides to bring them to Christ,the only way to salvation.The REAL truth.Exposing the MEN they follow may help them follow their true shepherd,their Lord.
Psalm 118:8:It is better to take refuge in Jehovah Than to trust in earthling man.