Independent thinker-- I think not
Are independent thinkers encouraged in the Watchtower organization? Ask a witness this and they will respond affirming we can think and have our own opinions. This is true as long as they do not disagree with the Watchtower teaching. In fact if pressed about it they would say why would we want to disagree with someone who has the truth. But this is the point, how do they know they have the truth without a non bias examination? Have they ever done an independent study to arrive at their conclusion they hold or have they accepted the Watchtowers position because they trust them.
The members have been told The Watchtower “invites careful and critical examination of its contents in the light of the Scriptures.” (Watchtower 8/15/11950, p. 263)
While they may say, “There are various publications exposing Jehovah's Witnesses as heretics. We are not afraid of this. (Watchtower 8/1/1978, p. 12)
This is not so, they are very afraid their people would be exposed to other opinions, so they implement many ways to have them not listen. One is to sever ties with anyone who once was a Jehovah’s Witness calling them apostates, another is to tell them it is not wise to go on the internet where most of this information is available for free. Another way is to control their friendships with Christians who are witnessing to them.
They cut off people from those who have found what is true by labeling them as apostates. A Witness is deathly afraid to be found speaking to or having apostate literature. “Have No Dealings With Apostates, ... For example, what will you do if you receive a letter or some literature, open it, and see right away that it is from an apostate? Will curiosity cause you to read it, just to see what he has to say? You may even reason: `It won't affect me; I'm too strong in the truth. And besides, if we have the truth, we have nothing to fear. The truth will stand the test.' In thinking this way, some have fed their minds upon apostate reasoning and have fallen prey to serious questioning and doubt.” (Watchtower, March 15, 1986 p12)
“Examine the evidence. Reasonable persons want to examine both sides of a matter. That is how one arrives at the truth.” (Awake 10/22/1973, p. 6)
But they are never allowed to examine it without there influence on them.
They have even said in the past, “It is important to examine one's religion; there is nothing to fear from such an examination” (TRUTH, p. 13) But they fear greatly as no Jehovah’s Witness will go public or debate another in a open setting. Jehovah’s Witnesses are scared to go into a Church, and they are very superstitious in what they have in their homes.
But the facts are clear, the Watchtower does all their thinking for the members in spiritual matters, and in other matters as well. “The most beneficial study you can do is read the Watchtower and Awake! Or a new book by the organization.” (Watchtower 6/1/1967 p.338) Why do it on your own, when you can have someone do it for you
There is no contesting anything they have written, no public discussions, no open forum to those interested or involved, and research is not necessary when you have the Watchtower who cares for you. Like a spiritual big brother they will make sure you are fed and what decisions you should make in life.
The Watchtower has at times controlled the very functions of human nature, commands that God said were good.
Control is even exerted over those who are in love or wanted to further their education. This not done by coercion but by convincing them what is the right decision for God and his organization.
In the advent of the soon coming armeggeddon they taught “Would it be Scripturally proper for them to now marry and begin to rear children? No, is the answer, which is supported by the Scriptures.” (FACE FACTS, p. 46)
“Those jonadabs who now contemplate marriage, it would seem, would do better if they wait a few years, until the fiery storm of Armageddon is gone...”(FACE FACTS, pp. 49-50) “We can well defer our marriage until lasting peace comes to the earth.” (CHILDREN, p. 366)
“Do not pursue higher education. There is very little time left! Make pioneer service, the full-time ministry with the possibility of Bethel or missionary service, your goal.” (Watchtower, 3/15/1969, p. 171)
Imagine a church that claims to be God’s organization exerting this kind of control over people.
So how do they convince their people to totally trust them? By statements of fear that are orchestrated to look like one could be challenging God himself. “Jehovah is not pleased if we receive that food as though it might contain something harmful. We should have confidence in the channel God is using.”(Watchtower, 2/15/1981, p. 19) “Respond to the directions of the organization as you would the voice of God.”(Watchtower, 6/15/1957, p. 370)
Whenever you have this kind of set up there is authoritarian control, they notice it on the Catholic church, but not when they wear it. “The Vatican belittles Bible study by claiming it is the only organization authorized and qualified to interpret the Bible.” (Watchtower 7/1/1943, p. 201) While they will say this they adopt the same policy.
“A person would go into darkness after two years of reading the Bible alone; would be in the light reading the Studies in the Scriptures alone.” (Watchtower 9/15/1910, p. 4685)
“Rather we should seek for dependent Bible study, rather than for independent Bible study.” (Watchtower 9/15/1911, p. 4885) “Bible classes and Bible studies all to no purpose until the Lord, in due time, sent them the 'Bible keys,' through the Society” (Watchtower 10/1 /1909, p. 4482) “The Bible is organization -minded it cannot be fully understood without our having the theocratic organization in mind.”(Watchtower 9/1/1954 p.164)
Their policy has not changed “The Bible is a sealed book except to the organization.” (Watchtower 7/1/1973 p.402). There is an “An organization to direct the minds of God's people” (Watchtower 3/1/1983 p.25).
How come there was no organization when the apostles who were called the foundation of the church began building the body of Christ (not the body of Jehovah). From these statements we can understand that they teach no one can receive the Holy Spirit apart from them and only they can have the understanding, but you must join their organization first.
Just like the Catholic Church, one cannot understand what the Scripture means without the traditions and the Magesterium. The Watchtower takes this same position saying you cannot understand the Bible apart from us. We speak for God
To a JW, the Scripture never means what it says, everything must be reinterpreted through the Watchtower. The witness does not do any independent studies and is discouraged from this lest they come to a conclusion different than what is presented by the organization. “An individual must have the Watchtower to understand the Bible.”(1983 yearbook)
“The Watchtower is issued twice each month and brings to its readers the current report which the Lord, in the exercise of his loving-kindness, manifests in the unfolding of his prophecies to those who are devoted to him....the Watchtower being the means the Lord is pleased to use to transmit his message of truth to the people, it is a real comfort to the remnant and the other sheep of the Lord to have this given to the regularly twice each month.” (1937 Yearbook, p. 82)
They read the same thing in every congregation throughout the world every week by the Watchtower. The Watchtower controls their answers as the answers are read from the magazine also. This is not Christianity, as one does not find this kind of practice by the apostles.
“No creature or organization on earth can truly presume to sit as the supreme tribunal of interpretation of the Holy Bible.” (Watchtower, 7/1/1943, p. 202) Yet they have previously said, “The Lord indicated he would use one member of his Church as the channel...” (Watchtower 3/11/1923, p. 68)
It is the Watchtower not the Holy Spirit determines the meaning of Scripture. This is like the Catholic church that has the magistrates explain what it means so everyone believes the same thing.
By convincing them “Who controls the organization? Jehovah.” (WT11/1/1956 p.666) The member would not dare go against what they are being told. “Outside the true Christian congregation what alternative organization is there? Only Satan’s organization…”(WT 3/1/1979 p.24) There is nowhere else to go so they resign themselves to stay. Never knowing how many thousands have found freedom before them by pursuing the truth outside the organization.
As they write “There has been no clear understanding of the Bible for centuries. (Watchtower; 9/15/1911, p. 4885)
Imagine telling people that God cannot illumine anyone’s mind and heart to understand the simple truths in Scripture. and this has not happened for centuries, until of course they came along.
This is so essential that they have said “1951 But if each of us were left to himself just because he has a copy of the Bible and were to direct his movements independently as he thought he understood the Word, what? It is likely, or possible, that there would be a great deal of confusion or working in competition among us. Hence, (besides individually possessing God's Word, we need a theocratic organization. Yes, besides having God's spirit of illumination, a Christian needs Jehovah's theocratic organization in order to understand the Bible. (Watchtower, June 15, 1951, p. 375)
“Some opposers claim that Jehovah's Witnesses are false prophets. These opponents say that dates have been set, but nothing has happened. Again we ask, what is the motive of these critics?" (Watchtower, 3/15/1986, p. 19)
This is moving the proof off of them to answer. The matter should be whether something is true or false, especially when speaking for God. But I might ask them what is the motive for saying all the things that they do? Our motivation is love. Those of us who care work hard to write what we do, take time to spend with these people motivated by compassion and care. We know they want to serve God. To do this they need to hear the gospel and be set free from mans organization into a true relationship with God.
A quote to remind them not to be afraid of what is being said, “It is not persecution for an informed person to expose a certain religion as being false.” (Watchtower; 11/15/1963, p. 688) If we do not have any proof why do they continue to keep their people from seeing it? Why not go public with what they believe, be open and be interviewed. The answer is simple; there is more than meets the eye and what is read in the Watchtower and Awake each month, much more.