AWAKE has an article on Spiritism and one a little different on the subject of Constantine. The Constantine article doesn’t mention the Trinity but focuses on his shortcomings and the alliance of Church and State . It is relatively mild compared to some WT articles on this topic. The Watchtower though has a range of articles on World war 1, The real source of war, injustice and oppression etc. Having scanned the magazine I am surprised by a few things. The articles are now really short, far shorter than ever before. The mention of the first World War without a calculation and emphasis on 1914 is frankly shocking. It shows how far the WT and JWs are straying from previous beliefs and the eventual total burying of 1914 seems inevitable.
The study edition spends much of its time in Psalm 45 a kingly or Royal Psalm. Much of the material we would have little issue with. In the introductory article it is noticeable how they turn a worshipful psalm with a emphasis on praising the King they say this….
What about us? The good news of the Messianic Kingdom is something good that touches our heart. The Kingdom message became especially “good” in 1914. Since then, the message no longer concerns a future Kingdom but has to do with a real government now functioning in the heavens. This is the “good news of the Kingdom” that we preach “in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) Is our heart “stirred” by the Kingdom message? Do we preach the good news of the Kingdom with zeal? Like the psalmist, our “song is about a king”—our King Jesus Christ. We proclaim him as the enthroned heavenly King of the Messianic Kingdom. Moreover, we invite all—the rulers and the ruled—to submit to his kingship. (Ps. 2:1, 2, 4-12) And our tongue becomes like “the stylus of a skilled copyist” in that we make extensive use of the written Word in our preaching work.
Notice how the emphasis is switched and steered from Praise and Worship….to work, the preaching work, door to door. It is the classic approach of a group still flogging the willing to do more and work harder. Later articles try and soften this as they have been doing for a while by talking of knowing Jehovah….not just ,’taking in knowledge of him’ , this is reinforced by the new ‘softer ‘NWT as well.
The second article is about the Marriage of the Lamb. In attempting to identify the Bride , they introduce the 144,000, some bold statements about ‘anointed Christians’,
As anointed Christians finish their earthly course during Christ’s presence, they are resurrected to heavenly life. Sometime after the destruction of Babylon the Great, Jesus will gather to himself all the remaining members of the bride class. (1 Thess. 4:16, 17) Before the outbreak of the war of Armageddon, therefore, all members of the “bride” will be in heaven. After that war, the marriage of the Lamb can take place.
The assumption throughout is that the bride/the wife/the anointed Christians/ congregation (church)= 144,000. It is an assumption that lies at the heart of WT ‘theology’ and it is a fatal flaw. The articles also mention 1914 but not as prominently as the old days. If one compares Rev 7v9-10 with Rev 14v1-5 without any presuppositions then it is fairly obvious the two groups are the same ones! The linking of ‘other sheep’ from John, with great crowd in Revelation and the siphoning off of all references to Gods people , Gods covenant and Church and making them all identify the 144,000 with a heavenly hope is simply unsupported by any reference in the text itself and relies on a pre -existing structure of belief e.g. the two groups one for heaven the other for earth as identified in WT beliefs. It is as foolish on the WT insistence that ‘Jehovah’ appears as a word in the NT and that Jehovah is the correct way to translate YHWH.
Two articles show clearly a shift in the way the WT has been attempting to make its faith seem more ‘devotional’. Te new NWT changes ‘taking in knowledge of you’ to ‘knowing ‘ you, which softens the approach and two articles emphasising Jehovah as provider and protector and as ‘our best friend’. The formality and stiffness of much JW prayer and worship is in stark contrast to the attempted portrayal here. Remember for a JW THIS is ‘IT’, there are no other options, no other Churches, no alternative way of understanding anything.
There is little offensive or error laden in the text of these articles but the religion and experience of JWs is far from this . To emphasise the fatherhood of Jehovah and at the same time withholding the ‘new birth’ from the overwhelming majority of them is a simple and basic contradiction. To talk of intimacy and relationship is simply empty rhetoric when the great crowd have a relationship ‘via’ the anointed channel to God and not directly.
I have used the new NWT in my referring to scripture as I have prepared these comments. I will make more comment on this again. I have also had a look around the website more than I usually do. This combined with a lengthy discussion with a JW recently has helped me understand again the limited and small word of the WT and individual JWs.
The website talks of the massive translation work of the Watchtower and how some publications can be distributed in over 500 languages. It shows JWs all over the world and how many millions of the WT and Awake are distributed. The JW who came to my office said that ‘John, I am more amazed by the size of the work we do , more than ever’, my response was …. ‘I guess you mean how small it is’? He was very taken back. He actually believes that the JW bible translation work is larger and more widespread than any other, he actually has a belief that they were larger than any other group? This is the impact of being limited to a JW worldview and not being allowed to look beyond and outside of the limited confines. I took delight to tell him how the NIV alone is scores of millions ahead of the NWT in distribution, that WE translated the bible into thousands of languages , that there are more Evangelical believers in China (65 million) than JWs in the world (7.5 million). Now is not the place to get into detail, (perhaps I might write an article about this soon) but the continual flow of material in books magazines and film actually does distort their view of reality. The captivity is truly total until an individual JW begins to look over the wall.