JW. PERSONAL FREEDOM AND OF THOUGHT : WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

“Yet, it’ s a mistake generally made, to try to make all members reach exactly the same conclusion over the meaning of God’s Word and nobody should insist on making everyone view each detail as he does or not even as the majority do.” “Unity over the essential things ; charity over those which are not”

This is the rule we should follow.

C.T. Russell WT first president
STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES
series 6

C.T. Russell WT first presidentThe apostle Paul exhorted first-century Christians in Corinth to “speak in agreement” and to “be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” (1Corinthians 1:10)Some today criticize Paul’s admonition. ‘People are different,’ they argue, ‘and it is wrong to insist that all Christians think or act in the same way.’ But was Paul really recommending robotic conformity? Does the Bible allow for personal freedom?

In another of his letters, Paul urged Christians to serve God with their “power of reason.” (Romans 12:1) Certainly, then, he would not have been trying to turn members of the Corinthian congregation into unthinking automatons. But why did he tell them to be “fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought”? Paul gave this counsel because the congregation in Corinth was experiencing a serious problem. Factions had developed, so that some viewed Apollos as their leader while others favored Paul or Peter or held only to Christ.

Those Christians in Corinth were spiritually immature and easily influenced by the prominent men in the congregation rather than letting the Bible guide them.

Such disunity was no trivial matter, for it threatened the peace of the congregation.

Those who would like to impose their own point of view on others, use 1 Corinthians 1:10 in order to claim that whoever doesn’t agree with them is dividing the congregation. But this is absolutely wrong, for what creates unity in the Christian congregation is Jehovah’s main quality, that is LOVE and this is confirmed by what the Sacred Scriptures teach in Colossians3:14, though it may not be supported by the opinion of a little goup of believers even if prominent and having responsibility in congregation.

Unity is also important in matters of doctrine. Footstep followers of Jesus realize that there is really only “one faith,” just as there is only “one God and Father.” (Ephesians 4:1-6) Hence, Christians make sure that what they believe is in harmony with the truth that God has revealed in his Word about himself and his purposes. They are united in their belief about who God is and what he requires. They also live up to the clear moral standards set out in God’s Word. (1Corinthians 6:9-11). According to Paul there is no reason to keep out a Christian, because he has another point of view. In this way Christians remain united, both doctrinally and morally.

Hence , Christians , just like the Beroeans , make personally sure of what the Scriptures teach , with
their own reasoning power. Yet, they also realize that though there must be unity in the main matters of doctrine, there can be different viewpoints in some secondary matters. This is the freedom of thought and of differences in viewpoints and it is not absolutely condemned by the Bible. So this means that christians must NOT be told precisely how to think and what to do in all of life’s situations. Most matters involve personal choice.1Corinthians 8:4-13. And in such matters involving personal decision, everyone must be RESPECTED and not condemned, criticized or blamed which would be a sign of spiritual immaturity and uncertainty .

In his talk at a convention , the fourth WT President , F.W.Franz pubblicly said about chronology that it can be accepted or rejected …(“The Chronology. You can accept it or reject it” W 10. 15 . 1966 p.631) He was referring to some dates considered pivotal by JW, in Bible chronology. If we connect these words to those of Russell quoted at the beginning, we wonder why then, when some brothers have and express some doubts over some interpretations on prophecy or chronology, incur the risk of being accused of apostasy.

Why weren’t the two cited brothers subjected to restrictions, too? Both Russell and Franz understood the Bible spirit of freedom of thought and the legitimacy of thinking otherwise than the WT leadership. Should we think that the Bible severely condemns differences of opinion? Leviticus 19:15
How is it possible to preserve Christian unity while maintaining respect for individual choice? The key is love. Love for God moves us to submit willingly to his commandments. (1John 5:3) Love for fellowman moves us to respect the rights of others to make conscientious decisions in personal matters. (Romans 14:3,4;Galatians 5:13) At the same time, he encouraged everyone to respect the conscience of fellow Christians in matters that have been left to personal decision.—1Corinthians 10:25-33

So it should be a must to help the brothers who have doubts , to reason with them from the Scriptures in order to resolve their doubts , instead of threatening judicial committees or discipline which are out of line, not theocratic and not based on love which is God’ law, and instead of beating them just because they ask spiritual food digestible for them and instead of imposing everyone to think in the same way, Jude 22,23.

As we have just considered, this inquisitorial and inflexible attitude is opposite to the Sacred Scriptures because it is an obstacle to dialogue and it causes distrust among brothers. On the other hand, with the law of love, even the most obstinate sheep will be moved to manifest love and not to insist on secondary matters, leaving everything in the hands of the only God and Judge , Jehovah.

Contributed by a Resistance supporter

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2 thoughts on “JW. PERSONAL FREEDOM AND OF THOUGHT : WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?”

  1. Your thoughts on Christian Freedom mirror my own. It does appear that the WTBTS of today seeks to impose a sort of “Thought-Police” on the members of the congregation. Thanks for publishing this.

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