Monday, August 15, 2016

Old Dialogue Concerning Religion, the Intellect, and Authority

I personally do not find subsuming your intellect, the authority of the scriptures or your reputation to a religious organization. Whatever Paul meant by 1 Cor 1:10, it would be distressing to think that he meant this [speaking in agreement as Witnesses do].

Who said you have to "subsume your intellect" to a religious organization? A sacrificium intellectus is most abhorrent to yours truly. Jesus taught us to love God with our whole mind. However, I believe that it is perfectly viable and legitimate for a theologian or Christian thinker to work within his or her own religious tradition while simultaneously refusing to turn a blind eye to error. The Bible encourages Christians to submit to those taking the lead among them, to wit, those who govern (Heb 13:7, 17). That may not sound so lovely to our postmodernist society which takes delight in flouting authority, for the most part. But the Bible shows that the first-century Christians submitted themselves to the apostles and older men of Jerusalem and other local overseers of the Primitive Congregation (Acts 2:40-42; Acts 15:1-29). Likewise, Jehovah's Witnesses strive to do the same in their worship to God the Father today.

There is one major difference between us and the Catholic Church. In the Roman Catholic Church, the buck stops at the pope. You can't question the papacy because it supposedly has the "requisite authority" to interpret Scripture and even to declare certain doctrines infallible. You technically have to submit to the pope whether what he says is backed by Scripture or not. Jehovah's Witnesses do not go beyond the things written (1 Cor. 4:6). We believe in "making sure of all things," including what we're taught by the Governing Body (1 Thess. 5:21). Of course, we believe that we are being taught Scriptural truth, therefore we humbly submit to the Governing Body. But if a teaching ever turned out to be unscriptural or downright harmful, we would not just follow along like gullible little puppies. [No Jim Jones people here!]


Philip Fletcher said...

That is very true we are not Jim Jones people, I never felt any of us were "subsuming our intellect, when it says we speak in agreement it is because we all understand that the scriptures say "something" so we are in agreement, I don't know why it is so difficult to believe that individual people can all be on the same page, it is unusual that it would be done in 240 countries with different cultures, but that would be Jehovah God doing. Yes over 8 million people all speaking in agreement in 240 countries, without subsuming is truly divine. There can be no other answer.

T. Scott Lawson said...

As one of Jehovah's Witnesses I have in the past had a number of questions about certain eschatological teachings and have found it very satisfying to send my questions on these problems to the Writing Committee. Sometimes they have written me back sending a response that has been useful in my examination of these topics and sometimes the responding letter encourages patience and perhaps something will be written on the topic in the future. I know that I am not alone in submitting my questions on the tensions I have found in the Bible and our stated views and my patience has been rewarded a number of times by seeing my questions resolved in our publications often by an adjusted view! Does that sound like subsumimg one's intellect to an organization? Hardly!