The Stand-up Comedy of the Governing Body

NorrisAndLot
Norris (right) and Lot (left; making his late George Burns’ face)

To the astonishment and delight of us all, two members of the Governing Body: Anthony Norris III and Steven Lot, have branched out into the world of stand-up comedy (though some apostates may insist that the Governing Body have been living in that world, unknowingly, for a long time.)

Tony is the straight-man, deadpanning the whole time, while Steven’s a crackup; using his notoriously extreme facial expressions to milk the audience’s laughter.

If you haven’t caught their act yet, which has opened for several recent conventions throughout the U.S. and Great Britain, you may enjoy the following transcription of a recent performance. Unfortunately a transcription cannot fully convey the physical comedy and superb timing of a live performance.

Enjoy!

Norris & Lot: [Walk out to great applause. Norris goes and stands behind the podium, Lot stands a few feet away to his right, behind a standing mic. They bow, applaud each other, and wait for the crowd to settle down.]

Norris: So, a guy walks into a bar–

Lot: Ouch! [Holds hand over his eye, and staggers about the stage, then doubles over in mock pain.]

Audience: [Roars with laughter; so relieved to see these men not being serious for a change.]

Norris: [Waits for audience to quiet down, and Lot to recover himself.]
Wrong audience.
[Shuffles his papers on the podium, till at last he seems to find the right one.]
A guy walks into a magazine counter.

Lot: Ouch! [Repeats performance. Crowd laughs even harder this time.]

NorrisContemplativeNorris: [After patiently waiting for everyone to settle down; while remaining straight-faced himself the whole time.] Sorry. I’ll get this right eventually — you know that sometimes we don’t get everything exactly right the first time.

Audience: [Laughs, then applauds as Norris gives a meaningful look.]

Lot: Yeah, we’re not infallible. Just remember the Generation teaching!

Audience: [Starts laughing, but then catch themselves and stop short.]

Norris: [Gives Lot a long, thoughtful look.] No; not like the Generation teaching. We had that one right the first time.

Lot: Oh, right! We just didn’t know what we were saying.

Audience: [Confused, sporadic laughter.]

Norris: No; he’s right: we said the Generation wouldn’t die out before the end came. We just didn’t know that the Generation was uh —

Lot: Double-jointed?

Audience: [Laughter & applause.]

Norris: So, a brother walks over to the magazine counter.

Lot: [Encouragingly.] Tell the story, brother.

Norris: And he asks the Magazine Servant —

Lot: Did you ever wonder why you start out as a servant and have to rise to the level of a slave?

Audience: [Laughter and applause.]

Norris: [Gives Lot a stern look.] And he asks the Magazine Servant, “Say, brother, have you got the swimsuit issue?”

LotSurprisedLot: [Mugs an outrageous face of shock, replete with rolling eyes.]

Audience: [Roars with laughter.]

Lot: Well, at least he didn’t ask for a Playboy!

Audience: [Gasps at the mention of such a thing by a Governing Body member, then laughs hysterically.]

Norris: Do they still publish that wicked rag?

Lot: [Putting his hand on his chest.] How would I know?

Norris: So, the Magazine Servant reaches under the counter, saying, “Oh, yes, I believe we still have one issue left, down here.” [Long pause.] And he pulls out our January issue with the report on all of the baptisms for last year.

LotLaughingLot: [Doubles over in hysterical laughter, which in itself is funny enough to give the audience something to laugh at rather than Norris’s dud of a punchline.]

Norris: [Steps to the side of the podium and takes a bow.]

Audience: [Polite applause.]

Lot: Speaking of baptism, brother Norris, I heard a sister say that she thought John the Baptist was hot.

Norris: [In mock disbelief.] Hot?!

Lot: She was looking at the illustration of him in the Watchtower. The one with the bulging muscles. [Flexing and feeling his own biceps, then nodding and smiling at ladies in the audience.] I Guess John had been working out; not much else to do in the desert.

Norris: And she really said that she thought he was “hot”?

LotDisgusted2Lot: “Smokin’!” [Mugs an indescribable face, perhaps meant to mimic the woman’s attraction to the picture.]

Norris: Wait; she said he was smoking?

Lot: “Smokin’!” [Repeats face, even more exaggeratedly.]

Norris: Can’t be; we don’t baptize anyone who’s smoking.

Audience: [Scattered chuckles.]

Lot: [Pointing to Norris] Just like Samson: he brings the house down!

Norris: Well, if John the Baptist was a smoker, he wasn’t the worst lawbreaker in the Bible.

Lot: Oh? Who was, then?

Norris: Moses!

Lot: No!

Norris: Sure; he broke all ten commandments at once!

Audience: [Laughter mixed with groans.]

Lot: [Whispers to the audience, with a nod to Norris.] Smart-alek.

Lot: [Addressing Norris.] Oh yeah? Well, what about Noah? He broke the dietary law, you know.

Norris: How’s that?

Lot: He took Ham into the ark.

Audience: [Laughs politely, then bursts into laughter and applause as Lot mugs and spreads his arms to accept adulation for his wit.]

Norris: Well, that’s not so bad; I guess I’m worse: guilty of bringing a ham on the stage with me.

Lot: Hey, if anyone here needs an ark, I Noah guy.

Audience: [Groans.]

Norris: I’m sorry; it’s hard to stop him when he’s on a roll. He’s the same way when the Faithful Slave is in session. That’s why it takes so long to get the new truths out to you folks.

Lot: You knew that Noah also brought playing cards with him to help wile away those long rainy days on the ark, didn’t you?

Norris: Is that a fact? What did they play, poker? Ha-ha.

Lot: No, they could never play anything; Noah kept standing on the deck.

Audience: [Groans.]

Norris: [With a long-suffering look to the audience.] I’ll get him off this, I promise.
Hey, Steven, didn’t you just celebrate your 45th anniversary with your lovely wife Susan?

Lot: 48th year, Tony!

Audience: [Applause.]

Lot: Yes, as you know, this is the one thing we Jehovah’s Witnesses get to celebrate. So we went all out!

Norris: [With a worried look.] All out?

Lot: Yes, we shared a glass of wine with our meal at a fancy restaurant.

Norris: Oh, that’s acceptable.

Lot: And, we had a toast —

Norris: Oh, brother, no! Jehovah’s people do not engage in toasting!

Lot: [A look of astonishment.] You’re kidding.

Norris: No, I’m not kidding! You’re a member of the Governing Body: the Faithful and Discreet slave! How can you not know of this prohibition? Toasting is a pagan religious ritual! You’re supposed to be setting an example!

LotDejectedLot: [Looking dejected.] Now I’ll have to report Susan to the judicial committee for toasting that marshmallow. It was all her idea. Though I ate it; just like Adam ate the fruit Eve gave him. Does that make me guilty too?

Norris: Oh, it was just a toasted marshmallow? That’s okay then.

Lot: Whew! Well, now I’m really glad we decided against the piñata.

Norris: Actually, piñatas are permitted.

Lot: [Reaches into his jacket pocket and takes out a pencil and notebook, begins writing something down.]

Norris: What are you doing now?

Lot: Just making a note. “Piñatas: okay… Toasting: ETERNAL DEATH!”

Norris: Now that you’ve got that straight in your mind, can you tell us why you would have a piñata, of all things, at your anniversary celebration?

Lot: I told you we were going all out.

Audience: [Laughter.]

Lot: Oh yeah; people have piñatas at their celebrations. I’ve seen this: you take a stick and hit it, and stuff falls out… It’s kind of like these young attractive sisters: they get hit on all the time, and then spill their guts in the courts about elders having sexually abused them.

Norris: Yeah; I’d like to take a stick to them myself sometimes, for all the trouble they cause the Society.
Too bad it’s not like in the good old days when Rutherford armed his body-guards with canes, which they weren’t hesitant to use.

Audience: [Applause.]

Lot: Yeah, not like the “metaphorical rod” that brother Jackson tried to pull over on the Australian Royal Commission!

Norris: [Ignoring Lot.] And unfortunately it’s not just the sisters; there’s those young brothers in tight pants, exciting the older men —

Lot: Wait a minute! [Takes out notebook and writes again] “Tight pants: HUMAN HOT DOGS!”
[Puts away notebook and yawns.]

Norris: Are we keeping you up?

Lot: [Looks at watch] It’s about time for my siesta.

Norris: You take a siesta?

Lot: Every day. [Norris stares at him, making him nervous and guilty.] Uh-oh! [Takes out notebook and rifles through it.] I don’t see siestas on the list. Aren’t they okay?

Norris: Just like birthdays, the only mention of a siesta in the Bible is by a pagan, and there was a murder during it.

Lot: [Writes in notebook, with exaggerated emphasis, as if stabbing a hole through the paper.] I better pop a No-Doze!

Norris: Just kidding, brother Lot. Siestas are acceptable.

Lot: [Rips the page out of his notebook, crumples it, and throws it offstage.] And into the apostate-bucket it goes!

Audience: [Applause.]

Norris: We have to get off now and make room for the serious stuff. Despite all our foolishness, we’d like to end on an inspiring note —

Lot: Oh, I’ve got one! You know we joke about the sisters, but seriously, I’ve come closer in my understanding and appreciation and love for Jehovah through my long, long, long [nodding his head and slumping lower and lower with each repetition of the word] long marriage.

Norris: Kind of gives you a taste for what eternity will be like, doesn’t it, brother?

Lot: [Straightening back up] Yes, isn’t it wonderful? Best of all, I now understand why Jehovah created man before woman.

Norris: Why is that?

Lot: He didn’t want any advice on how to do it.

Norris & Lot: [Raise their arms above their heads, give each other high-five’s, and bow.]

Audience: [Gives standing ovation.]

Norris & Lot: Thank you; you’ve been great — though you’ll never be as great as us!

Disclaimer: Any resemblance of characters in this article to actual persons, living or dead, may not be entirely coincidental.
This dialogue is entirely the product of the writer’s warped imagination (along with some bad jokes culled from the Internet), though it’s mostly all in fun, it all has a basis in the actual writings, theology, history, and policies of the Watchtower (as the provided links demonstrate.)

When the Governing Body Called on Socrates. Part 1

Part 1: The 1914 generation

Featuring:
Anthony Norris III and Steven Lot

Steven Lot, Anthony Norris III, Socrates
Steven Lot, Anthony Norris III, Socrates

NORRIS: Good morning. My name is Mr. Anthony Norris the third, and this is brother Steven Lot. We’re calling on your neighbors this morning to discuss the crime rate. How do you feel about the increase in crime and violence?

SOCRATES: And a good morning to you too, gentlemen. I am Mr. Socrates Sophroniskou Alopekethen. [Using the most elaborate form of his name in gentle mockery of Anthony’s overly formal introduction. However, since this goes over their heads, Socrates just smiles at his private little joke, and continues.]
I love a good discussion! Please come in and sit down.

NORRIS & LOT: Thank you.

SOCRATES: [Picking up a bottle in one hand and two wine-glasses in the other.] May I offer you some wine? I cannot imbibe myself — having once had a bad experience with a drink — but my friends tell me that this is a particularly good brand.

NORRIS: No thanks. I prefer Jameson Scotch.

LOT: [Waving the proffered glass away] I love wine, but I’d feel too awkward drinking it in front of someone who cannot imbibe.

NORRIS: [Under his breath to Lot] What do you think you do every Memorial Service?

SOCRATES: [Sitting down across from them] Very well. You asked me what I thought about the increase in crime and violence. Before I can answer that I’ll need to know what crimes and acts of violence you’re referring to, whom they were committed against, and over what period they have increased.

NORRIS: Well, we find that ever since 1914: World War I, crime and violence have been on the increase everywhere.

SOCRATES: And you are factoring in population increase?

NORRIS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: You know, gentlemen, I must tell you that I have become utterly fascinated by the Internet, which my good friend Aristocles, son of Ariston, has introduced me to. [A twinkle in his eye here, but after searching his visitors’ faces and seeing no recognition of Plato’s real name, he settles for another mysterious smile.]
This Internet is a veritable encyclopedia of facts at one’s fingertips! And all in the blink of an eye!

While we’ve been talking, I’ve looked up the facts in this matter, and actually when we factor in the population increase, we find that crime has actually been decreasing! And given humankind’s very violent past, we are living in the most peaceful time in history!

NORRIS: [Looking amazed] Are you aware of the two World Wars, the recent school shootings—

SOCRATES: Yes. Are you aware of the real first world war? It started in 1754 when George Washington murdered some Frenchmen, and ended up involving every inhabited continent on the globe except for Australia.

NORRIS: That’s an interesting history lesson, but 1914 saw an unparalleled loss of lives.

SOCRATES: Actually, the Three Kingdoms War in China, circa 220-280, had fourteen million more casualties.

NORRIS: [Dismissively] Anyway, the Bible shows that Jesus predicted the wars and violence, and even the earthquakes that we see today: “For nation shall rise against nation, and there will be earthquakes in one place after another… and then the end will come.” So, the conditions we see today are proof that the end of this system of things is fast approaching. Those who want to survive into the new system have to take steps today to align themselves with Jehovah God’s kingdom, soon to rule the earth.
I’d like to leave you with this magazine which shows how the Bible predicted all the things we are seeing, and what we need to do in order to be on God’s side when the Great Tribulation begins, which Jesus spoke of in verse –

SOCRATES: That’s very kind of you, and I look forward to reading your magazine. But can you help me understand what you just said?

NORRIS: Of course.

SOCRATES: You said that Jesus predicted an earthquake! That’s amazing, given how difficult it is for scientists, with all their modern equipment, to make accurate predictions. Which earthquake did Jesus accurately predict? Was it the Lisbon earthquake of 1755? The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 or 1989?  Or the 1964 “Good Friday” earthquake in Anchorage? Or perhaps —

NORRIS: No, Jesus didn’t make any specific earthquake predictions. He just said that there would be earthquakes in one place after another.

SOCRATES: But haven’t there always been earthquakes in one place after another? What kind of “prediction” is that?

LOT: [Pulls out an old magazine from his book-bag, and reads]

“We have recently experienced a period that has had one of the highest rates of great earthquakes ever recorded,” according to Tom Parsons, a research geophysicist at USGS.

SOCRATES: [Typing furiously on his computer] Oh, yes, I’ve found that quote. But why did you stop there? The article goes on to say:

Most researchers agree that the frequency spike is most likely random. Plus, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen an uptick in quakes: between 1950 and 1965, the earth shook more than usual, too. As the USGS explains, “A temporary increase or decrease in seismicity is part of the normal fluctuation of earthquake rates. Neither an increase or decrease worldwide is a positive indication that a large earthquake is imminent.” In fact, Parson’s study shows that since 1979, the average rate of major earthquakes has been roughly 10 a year.

And here’s another site, called 11 facts about earthquakes which states:

The National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) records an average of 20,000 earthquakes every year (over 50 a day) around the world. There are, however, millions of earthquakes estimated to occur every year that are too weak to be recorded.

So, again: there is always one earthquake after another (and often they are even simultaneous.) And, oh yes, I read this quote in the Watchtower magazine — though not the issue you’re leaving with me:

The earth and its dynamic forces have more or less remained the same throughout the ages.
Watchtower, December 1, 1993, p. 6

And yet, this puzzles me, because in an earlier issue, they wrote something quite at odds with that quote:

The severity and deadliness of earthquakes have increased markedly since “the time of the end” commenced for this old system in 1914.
Watchtower, May 1, 1970, page 270.

Can you explain that?

[Lot and Norris look at each other, each hoping the other has some comeback. Finally, Lot ventures the fallback excuse]
LOT: Oh, that’s all taken out of context.

SOCRATES: I see. But let me ask you this: you say that after the war and the earthquakes “the end will come.” And you say this meant World War I, and the wars, crime, violence, and earthquakes since then. Correct?

NORRIS: Yes.

SOCRATES: Yet you say “the end of this system of things is fast approaching.”

NORRIS: That’s right, yes.

SOCRATES: So, what are we waiting for? 1914 was over a hundred years ago. If all you say is true, shouldn’t the end have come by now?

NORRIS: Jesus went on to say that the generation that witnessed the events of 1914 would by no means have passed away before the end came.

SOCRATES: Well, let’s see, babies born in 1914 would be 105 years old today. So that generation has pretty much passed away, hasn’t it?

NORRIS: Actually, they wouldn’t have been babies; they would’ve had to have been of the age of understanding, which we believe is at least 10 years old.

SOCRATES: And they would’ve used this “understanding” to understand that the war and earthquakes signaled the start of the last days, correct?

NORRIS: Yes.

SOCRATES: But at that time, the Watchtower was proclaiming that 1914 was the end of the last days: not their start, correct? I found this old Watchtower quote:

We see no reason for changing the figures — nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God’s dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble.”
– The Watchtower Reprints, July 15, 1894, p. 1677 (Emphasis in original.)

NORRIS: Well, yes. The light has gotten brighter since then.

SOCRATES: But no Watchtower subscriber of that time would’ve recognized 1914 as the start of the last days, correct?

NORRIS: Some of them might’ve.

SOCRATES: You mean, on their own: going against what the Watchtower was telling them was the “truth”?

NORRIS: Possibly.

SOCRATES: Do many in your religion think for themselves in that way: questioning the “light” published by the Watchtower?

NORRIS: We discourage independent thinking.

SOCRATES: So then your belief in 1914 hangs upon an egregiously thin thread!

NORRIS: How do you mean?

SOCRATES: It requires that there are people, at least 115 years old, who, as ten year-old children in 1914 believed — in spite of what the Watchtower published — that the year marked the start of the last days.

NORRIS: Well, children don’t always believe what we tell them.

SOCRATES: [aside] I’m amazed that any adults do.

NORRIS: But the thread’s not so thin as all that. In light of the 1914 generation having died out, we now understand that by “generation” Jesus meant not only those of an age of understanding in 1914, but anyone anointed while any of those anointed who witnessed 1914 were still alive.

SOCRATES: [laughs] Not seriously?

NORRIS: Oh, yes. The Bible sometimes uses “generation” to refer to all the people alive at one time period.

SOCRATES: Well, sure; but you’re spreading that time-period out way too far: beyond a lifetime! When you do that, the term generation loses its meaning. For instance, my great-grandfather immigrated to this country as a young man. He was still alive when I was born. Now, according to your definition of “generation” I am of the same generation as my great-grandfather — even though I am rightly considered a 4th generation American because he was a first generation American.

NORRIS: That is correct.

SOCRATES: So, while most people would consider me part of the “Baby Boom” generation, you’re telling me that since I was born while my great-grandpa was alive, I’m really part of the “Lost” generation of the late 1800’s!

NORRIS: Well, yes; if you use the word the way the Bible does in Matthew 24. That’s how we know, for instance, that someone anointed in 1992 is of the 1914 generation; because Fred Franz (who lived through 1914) was still alive in that year.

SOCRATES: So, you’re contending that an anointed person who is 37 years old today is of the WWI generation — though that war ended 64 years before they were born.

NORRIS: Yes.

SOCRATES: Yet other people, born on the very same day as that individual, are not of the WWI generation.

NORRIS: You’ve got it.

SOCRATES: Excuse me, but do you actually get people to believe all this?

NORRIS: Hey, if we can convince our followers that the 7 great plagues depicted in the book of Revelation were a series of Bible Students’ convention held in the 1920’s, then getting them to swallow this generation double-talk is a cinch!

LOT: [Reading from a crib-sheet he pulls from his jacket pocket]

The evidence that God’s kingdom began to rule in 1914 is more abundant than the evidence for gravity, electricity, or wind!

SOCRATES: [To Norris, sadly] I see what you mean.

Note: Any resemblance of characters in this story to actual persons, living or dead, may not be entirely coincidental.

See also:

1914 Debunked once and for all!

For more of Socrates meeting the Governing Body, please see my book: Layers of Truth.

 

“Do Not be afraid… I am Your God!”

Governing Body as Wizards of Oz
The Wizards of Warwick (Click to enlarge)

The Watchtower’s year-text for 2019 is: “Do not be afraid… I am your God.”

In the January, 2019 Watchtower (study ed.), the first study article expounds upon this text. It tells the story of a Witness woman named Yoshiko whose doctor told her she only had a few months to live.

The article goes on to state that “Jehovah was with” this woman, and that while God won’t stop or prevent harm from coming to us, he won’t allow us to be permanently damaged:

Jehovah does not promise to remove the challenges that make life difficult, but he will not allow “the rivers” of  problems to drown us or “the flame” of trials to do us any permanent damage.

Yoshiko died, as her doctors had predicted. Most of us would consider death the most permanent of all damages. Of course the Watchtower would disagree, positing its idea of a “resurrection” — in which a surrogate will be programmed with Yoshiko’s memories and personality in the “new world.” But for those of us who can think about it, that’s no consolation, and does nothing for the individual who died, and who remains dead forever.

If God doesn’t do anything to help us, how is that supposed to assuage our fears?

In addition to the above flawed reasoning, there are several mistakes in the article, such as:

  • The statement that Isaiah wrote Isaiah chapter 41 (he didn’t)
  • That Abraham’s faith in God removed his fear (it didn’t; Abraham still feared King Abimelech: disowning his wife Sarah to save his own hide rather than trusting in Jehovah’s protection, even after Jehovah had intervened and protected them in a similar incident with Pharaoh. (Ge 12:10-20, 20:1-7) )
  • And that the Jewish exile in Babylon lasted 70 years (it only lasted 48 years).

But these things are all side issues. What really gets me is the following.

The Watchtower publishes the year-text “Do not be afraid… I am your God.” I think that’s apropos; the Watchtower (aka the Governing Body) is, in fact, the God of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have scriptural evidence to backup this astonishing statement.

According to the Bible, Moses told Aaron what God supposedly had said to him, and then Aaron told Pharaoh  what Moses said that God said. The Bible tells us that by doing this Moses was acting as God to Pharaoh:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.
Ex 7:1 (NASB)

The Watchtower makes a similar claim to being God’s spokesman or “mouthpiece”:

The Nations Shall Know… (WTBS, 1971) pp. 58-59 ,66 (Click to enlarge)

“Who.. were commissioned to serve as the mouthpiece and active agent of Jehovah? …anointed… Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
–The Nations Shall Know that I am Jehovah” – How? pp.58-59, 66

[It’s no longer all of the “anointed”; the Governing Body has since taken over this role exclusively.]

Just like Moses, by their assuming the responsibility of serving as “God’s mouthpiece and Jehovah’s active agent,” the Governing Body has taken on the role of God (with Witnesses as their “prophet” to spread the word.)

We never hear God’s voice; we only hear what the Governing Body tells us about God. And we know (and they even admit) that what they tell us is often wrong!

The Watchtower paints a picture of a world living in fear of Armageddon, in which only Witnesses can find comfort in having Jehovah for their god. But I see a very different picture: one in which the Governing Body, acting as their God, has taught them to fear both Armageddon and themselves [“the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom” says their Bible translation of Pr 9:10, and for all intents and purposes, the Governing Body is Jehovah to a Witness.]

Witnesses have been commanded to “Listen [to] and Obey” whatever cockamamie ideas these men may pass off as “orders from Jehovah.” In this there is a very real fear of the consequences [both real and imagined: social ostracism, and loss of “everlasting life”] should they ever dare question this arrangement.

In contrast, as someone “in the world” (i.e. free from the dictates of these men) I do not fear either them or their Armageddon. I am not afraid precisely because they are not my God!

In the land of Oz the phony wizard had no real power to take away anyone’s fears. Rather, just like the wacky “Wizards of Warwick,” he projected a frightful image in order to induce fear in his dupes.

As in Oz, so too in real life: the power to overcome our fears has always resided within ourselves, and starts by taking back control of our own lives.

Faith, Trust, and Gullibility

Faith, trust, and gullibility: three sides of the same triangle; or different degrees of the same thing?

Faith is extolled as a virtue by most religions. In our Western culture the Bible encourages both faith and trust:

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed — a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17 — NIV)

For we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7 — NIV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Pr 3:5-6 — NIV)

What about gullibility? You know: when you believe everything someone tells you, unquestioningly. Surely religions don’t espouse such unreasonable levels of surrendering our good sense — or do they?

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1Cor. 13:7 –ESV)

That’s right: the Bible claims that love demands our believing all things!  Now, I love my wife, but I certainly don’t believe everything she says. And while some religious leaders may be well-meaning, I don’t think that everything they say is exactly what we could honestly call “the truth.”

I contend that believing everything someone says is an irresponsible and foolish way to live, and is certainly not a requirement for loving that person.

But there are religous leaders who insist that I’m wrong, and that such gullibility is, in fact, required of us! I recently came across an article expounding on the above verse from 1 Corinthians:

It means to successfully erase our doubts and reservations. It means that in making spiritual commitments, we are prepared to hold nothing back. It means we are ready to consecrate our lives to the work of the kingdom.

This sounds as if the Governing Body is about to call upon our unquestioning loyalty and obedience after claiming to be their god’s spokesmen (or “prophets”) on earth. And, true to form, the article continues a little further on:

Obedience is a fundamental law of the gospel. It is not only the demonstration of our faith but also the foundation of our faith. But the philosophical standard of the world holds that unquestioning obedience equals blind obedience, and blind obedience is mindless obedience. This is simply not true. Unquestioning obedience to the Lord indicates that a person has developed faith and trust in Him to the point where he or she considers all inspired instruction—whether it be recorded scripture, [or] the words of modern prophets… to be worthy of obedience.

And so, by a bit of self-serving rhetoric, the Bible’s demand on our faith is turned into a duty to obey the whims of a certain group of men! Thereby violating the scriptural principle of Christian freedom:

You were bought with a price; stop becoming slaves of men. (1 Cor. 7:23 –NWT)

My dear Witness readers will balk at the above analogy. Surely comparing their obeying the Governing Body to slavery is far-fetched, and surely the article I’ve quoted is spot-on in explaining how the virtue of faith leads inexorably to unquestioning obedience to these “modern-day prophets” of their god.

But here’s the point: the article was not written by a Jehovah’s Witness. It was written by a Mormon. His idea of faith includes unquestioning belief in the book of Mormon and the leaders of the LDS. To quote the part I purposely skipped in the above excerpts:

For us, to “believe all things” means to believe the doctrine of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ as well as the words of the Latter-day prophets. (Believe All Things By Elder Robert C. Oaks Of the Presidency of the Seventy)

That’s right: the article was using the Scriptures to convince Mormons of the need to believe in those golden plates of Joseph Smith which were presented to him by the angel Moroni, and then conveniently whisked away after Joe’s supposed translating of them. And even though the substance of Joe’s new “revelation” had previously been published in Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews, and even though Joe’s “Book of Mormon”further plagiarized whole chapters verbatim from the King James Bible, this present-day Mormon elder expects us to believe in a supernatural origin of the book, and to therefore believe in everything he and his co-elders may dream up in the future, though it be just as transparently absurd.

Okay, so my dear Witness readers will now be shaking their heads at the obvious gullibility of those Mormons. Yet, when the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses use the Bible to make the very same arguments about their need to “believe everything,” the Witness will regard this as a reasonable duty of their “faith” rather than recognizing the egregious gullibility that everyone else can plainly see.

(Naturally, a Mormon would see a Witness as gullible for the same reason a Witness sees a Mormon as gullible, while both remain blind to the “beam in their own eye.”)

But what is faith, anyway? Is it even a good thing? The Bible defines faith as follows:

Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1 — CEV)

Being “sure of what you hope for” is called wishful thinking: something it can be fun to engage in, but not something to build one’s life around.

Hope can be a good thing, but reality teaches us that just because you hope for something it doesn’t mean that it will come true.

And I have to disagree with the second part of the sentence in that quote from Hebrews. Faith, in the absence of evidence, is not “proof” of anything. Proof requires evidence.

Let’s go back to our example of the Mormon’s faith in Joe’s plates. Does the Mormon’s faith prove that those plates existed and were delivered by an angel? Only a Mormon could argue in the affirmative.

But then, if faith doesn’t work to prove Mormonism, it doesn’t work to prove anything else either, and this of course includes a failure to prove that the Governing Body are the Faithful and Discreet Slave whom we must listen to and obey.

It’s clear that neither a Mormon nor a Witness “believes all things,” otherwise a Witness would believe in Joe’s golden plates, and a Mormon would be hanging on every word of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses as if they had a pipeline to God.

What they really do is “believe all things” that their respective religions tell them to believe.  So, that’s selective. That requires personal decision-making at some point. It isn’t faith; it is based on something else: a decision to trust a particular group of men over other groups of men. Faith in a god really has nothing to do with it. Evidence has been weighed (however inaccurately) and a personal decision has been made based on the evidence in favor of one group of men over another.

In Conclusion

First: Don’t rely on faith; rely on evidence. This is what you’ve really been doing all along, possibly while fooling yourself that your religious choices were faith based. Now that you know better you can do a better job of examining the evidence for what you believe.

Second: Don’t allow yourself to be deceived by wishful thinking.

And, finally: it’s rational to extend a cautious bit of trust to others until they prove untrustworthy. But if someone starts making supernatural claims about themselves in an effort to extract blind trust from you, know that it’s a scam: one that has been perpetrated on the innocent and gullible for millennia, and one which shows no sign of letting up. Don’t fall for it.

If you already have fallen for it, it’s time to stand up and reclaim your intellectual independence and get your life back.