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Monday, August 14, 2017

HoldingBack: How Can I Open Myself Up for Serving as an Elder More?

HoldingBack wrote [August 14, 2017, 9:33 AM]:
Something's been on my mind, unresolved, for about 10 years. Truth is, I love the truth, but I've been holding back from giving Jehovah my all. What I mean is, that I can open myself up for serving as an elder more than I have.
I really want to. But I fear being disappointed like some have in the past, and getting discouraged. You know? Some brothers, like a long time elder in my hall, just stopped one day. He disappeared for several months, and came back later on. He's doing fine now, but has no desire to really resume his service.
I just want some help in getting over that feeling. I cannot seem to truly get over it. Some weeks I am fine, others, this creeps up, man, and I hate it.

JW Advisor: The key is to stop thinking about the negativity. You are not them. Elders are just members who have stepped into a position to help the congregation.

In that position, you can come across many issues unique to being an elder. But a few of the biggest issues will be strong personalities that may seem to make it hard to get something done. Another is that you yourself might try insisting on certain things and find yourself marginalized. And then the Roberts Rules of Order (RRO) may make progress slow in your eyes. And finally, seeing the decision-making and policies at work might make you uncomfortable at times. You might even find yourself afraid of speaking up for fear of ostricism or fear of being seen as a trouble-maker.

Those are all common complaints in the RRO meeting format in all meeting rooms. So just expect things like that, recognizing that it is just a matter of dealing with flawed people in a flawed process and that you yourself are flawed.

But the way past the fear is to calculate whether you have the time to do it, then just put your hat in the ring without thinking about it. Just switch your brain off when it would stop you from doing what you feel you need to do and then do it.

Do not calculate anything non-essential into your time considerations. Personal pursuits are not so important as serving as an elder. The organization needs all the elders it can get. [August 4, 2017, 10:09 AM]

HoldingBack wrote [August 14, 2017, 10:23 PM]:
You know what that's a good point. My wife and I have had discussions about me serving as such. She is in full support, and I do think I have the time, and I have the desire. I do want to help the organization. That's all I really want to do. I've had the desire since I was old enough to read. It's been a long time.
Since you put it like that, I think it's really the fear of imperfection dealing with imperfect people in an imperfect system. I really haven't prayed to Jehovah about it, in deep detail like that. 
This has given me something to think about, and pray about. You're right, I am not them. And I don't need to be thinking about them in that fashion.
You know something? I guess that helps governing body members to get through their responsibilities. I cannot imagine all the stuff that may cross their plate on a Wednesday when they meet.

JW Advisor: The key to patience in those situations is to remain detatched during any decision-making process or any situation that is potentially volatile. I make myself into the one rising above it, but more as the impartial arbiter with no horse in the race, as they say. That puts me in the frame of mind to ask the right questions and guide the discussion toward a conclusion that all can live with.

If a challenge or insult occurs, I recognize that they don't mean it and carry on as if it was not even said. That generally causes the person to think about what they said, letting the silence flog them, so-to-speak, but not in a way that embarasses them any more than they may already be embarassed by it. It is important to help them keep as much of their dignity as they can salvage out of love. [August 14, 2017, 10:40 PM]

HoldingBack wrote [August 14, 2017, 10:43 PM]
Yeah. Perhaps taking things personal can have a negative effect. The point you made about "strong personalities" had me thinking. It's entirely possible to detach ourselves in the sense too, that we recognize why we are here. For example, we have office meetings about how we are going to handle issues, and realizing that a suggestion is best for everyone, and not me only, can help deal with that.
This was a very encouraging discussion. Thank you for your [] suggestions bro. . . . What I need to do now today is make sure i pray about it, in detail, and accept the help that I'm given.

JW Advisor: We're glad to help. [August 14, 2017, 10:45 PM]

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Worried one: How Do I Address My Bible Teacher's Irreverant Behavior?

Worried one wrote [May 14, 2017, 2:53 PM]:
I have been studying with a brother for some months now. Before that i was studying with another brother at the previous city i was living in. I am an unbaptized publisher and looking to make spiritual progress. 
The brother and his family have been very good to me and I wholly appreciate their love. They've told me they see me as a spiritual son.
However, I am put off by their conduct sometimes. They often whisper to each other during meetings and joke at inappropriate moments. Their comments often seem trite or self-absorbed.
I don't want to sound ungrateful but it's a problem for myself. I'm thinking of changing congregation, as I feel pressured to sit with them, which I don't want to do.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.

JW Advisor: I am glad that you are not seeing it as an excuse to leave. Their irreverant behavior shows some spiritual immaturity and you have done well to recognize it as such. Though you should know that you are not under any obligation to sit with them. We each have to take charge of our own choices.

There is no real wrong answer here except failure to act [for peace]. So I'll list your options below, some of which you already considered:

1) Find a new congregation. This is effectively the neuclear option and not one I recommend. You're going to have a problem moving every time there's someone in need of a little correction. Running away never solves anything. We should also avoid developing or letting persist any trait of cowardous in ourselves. With prayer, Jehovah helps us to be brave. Running away in times like this shows reliance on ourselves rather than Jehovah. Nevertheless, there may be a time, when you've exhausted all other options, that changing congregations may be necessary

2) Move to a different seat. I recommend a seat far away from them and a little forward from them so you won't be distracted from a distance. This doesn't really resolve anything and could end up alienating you from them in the long run. Not only are they your Bible teachers, but soon they will officially be your spiritual brother and sister, assuming that you progress to baptism. (It sounds like you are on your way with the humility you are showing in this matter.) It is important not to become alienated from our brothers and sisters unless they commit a serious sin [and are in need of showing repentance].

3) Tell them how you feel. This is really the best answer in most situations. On your own, whether at the congregation or during your Bible study, or with a special visit to their home, sit them down and explain that you have been bothered by their behavior during the meetings. If they are humble, they will respond positively. But always remember, no matter what their response, that each will carry their own load. (Galatians 6:1-5) As servants of Jehovah, everything we say to draw others to the truth or in counseling others is in service to Jehovah. Our words allow Jehovah to work through us. By stepping up to give counsel or encouragement or a witness, we are acting as Jehovah's mouthpiece saying what he wants to tell the people we talk to. If someone rejects your reasonable counsel, particularly if you use a scripture or two or refer them to one of the organization's Bible-based publications, remember that it is Jehovah's counsel they are rejecting, not yours, (Luke 10:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:8) as long as the counsel is given from a place of love and concern and not from intense negative emotion or egotism. I think your Bible teachers will be very humbled by having to be counseled by their own Bible student for what even the world considers disrespectful, and it may serve to make them into a much more spiritual team and better servants of Jehovah.

You might be able to illustrate their behavior by referring to the music video at tv.jw.org that showed the pioneer couple who were taking photos of each other and selfies and ignoring passers by. That obnoxious behavior is easily comparable to talking and snickering during meetings. [May 14, 2017, 4:36 PM]

Worried one wrote [May 15, 2017, 2:23 AM]:
Thank you very much for the advice; it is certainly helpful. I shall endeavour to pray upon the matter and seek a resolution to the problem.

JW Advisor: We are glad to help. Thank you for contacting us. We would be glad to hear how things have worked out for you in this matter. [May 18, 2017, 4:41 AM]

Friday, August 12, 2016

ConcernForYouths: How Can I Help Young Ones Stay Faithful?

ConcernForYouths wrote [August 11, 2016 at 3:47 am]:
I've been disappointed by the fact that young ones aren't taking Jehovah seriously. Leaving, dating way too young. I feel Jehovah needs students, researchers, and staying close to the more mature older ones within the congregation, I've thought about it and the only thing I can come up with as for right now is embrace them and seek them OUT! Like actually making planned visits, on a regular bases. What are your thoughts? Scriptural?
JW Advisor: I find it necessary to speak to you about each of our own responsibilities toward those who are lacking faith. Your daily Bible reading is the best place to find what you are looking for. The faithful slave has been discretely teaching all of us to use the Scriptures to help us to make wise decisions.

In this particular matter, Paul's letter to the Romans had some very wise counsel for those of us who are strong in faith. He wrote:
We, though, who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those not strong, and not to be pleasing ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even the Christ did not please himself, but just as it is written: “The reproaches of those reproaching you have fallen upon me.” For all the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had, so that unitedly you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So welcome one another, just as the Christ also welcomed you, with glory to God in view. For I tell you that Christ became a minister of those who are circumcised in behalf of God’s truthfulness, so as to verify the promises He made to their forefathers, and that the nations might glorify God for his mercy. Just as it is written: "That is why I will openly acknowledge you among the nations, and to your name I will sing praises." And again he says: "Be glad, you nations, with his people." And again: "Praise Jehovah, all you nations, and let all the peoples praise him." And again Isaiah says: "There will be the root of Jesse, the one arising to rule nations; on him nations will rest their hope." May the God who gives hope fill you with all joy and peace by your trusting in him, so that you may abound in hope with power of holy spirit. (Romans 15:1-13)
So, by our strong faith, it is indeed our responsibility to look after those who have weaknesses in their faith. In so doing, we are not trying to please ourselves, to make ourselves feel better. But we should do it to please our neighbors, especially those related to us in the faith. (Galatians 6:10) For what purpose? "To build him up." He shows us our exemplar, Jesus Christ, saying that he did not do what he did to please himself, but because he felt it personally, deep down with deep concern, when he saw ones lacking faith, viewing it as reproaches that he was responsible for correcting.

Paul continues by pointing out, just as I have been here, that we have examples set before us in the Scriptures, to look to for guidance and direction. Through those things we read in the Scriptures, we gain comfort in our hope for the future that helps us to endure. And through that endurance and comfort, we can acquire the same mental attitude of our Savior, Jesus Christ, being personally cut to see ones lacking faith, because it is through that deep concern that we draw close to such ones and strengthen them so that they might glorify God along with us.

How can we do that? Paul answers: "So welcome one another, just as the Christ also welcomed you." For what purpose? To bring glory to God. Thus, we keep that glory in mind when we welcome those young ones and others lacking faith. It is by our being welcoming to them that they are drawn to God. How can we welcome them? Paul again answers. Our exemplar, Jesus, sought to turn back the hearts of his brothers. In what ways? He strengthened their faith by pointing their attention to how the promises of God had been fulfilled toward them, that he had promised toward Abraham and his descendants, so that the nations could glorify God for the mercy extended to them through sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Thus, with our lips we can warmly welcome and strengthen the faith of those who are weak with deep, warm concern.

Thus, it is we ourselves who must widen out in our affections if we are to protect our brothers. (Romans 12:10; 2 Corinthians 6:11-13) In order for us to provide the hope from God to those weak ones, we ourselves must be filled with joy and peace through our own faith in God, trusting that he is looking out for such ones through us, so that you may "abound in hope", not just for yourself, but to share it with those who are weak. Because when they see the hope you have and how it shines through in the things you both say and do, then it will rightly infect them. This will thus be the power and the spirit of God working by means of you to comfort them by their beholding your faith, hope and endurance. Observe yourself so that you will be a fine example whom they can look to.

I hope I have answered your question or at least provided you with something that will make you more capable in dealing with such ones. [August 11, 2016 at 9:22 pm]

ConcernForYouths wrote [August 22, 2016 at 5:25 pm]:
. . . [That] made good sense! . . . I've read it several times and enjoyed it. I've just been concerned with the young ones in my congregation, so I asked. It's not too late for them until the great tribulation. I've seen them grow and then go, therefore I felt like something could have been done. Only time will tell, thank you.

JW Advisor: Give thanks to Jehovah. I'm glad it helped, ConcernForYouth. Your concern is admirable. Taking some under wing who have no one in their family to look to is a good way to help them. But for those with a strong Christian role model in their family, they do not need us to intervene except in being someone to look to as another fine example and someone they can rely upon and confide in as a loyal friend as to Jehovah.

As for the great tribulation, who is judged will still be up to God and Christ. Though our message changes and false religion gets destroyed, the judgment of the nations will still be yet future. Being part of Jehovah's organization is only the surest way to survive the judgment, and even that is not a certainty. Each person will be judged individually according to the mark on their foreheads by the secretary's inkhorn.

Guest Advisor: That was tied up nicely. If I could add something I read recently and replace the expression, "single parent" with "Brother or Sister" in the December, 1, 2010 WT.

Discerning Their Needs
It may seem that the obvious thing to do is to ask a brother or sister), “How can I help?” Realistically, though, this rarely results in someone’s telling you what his or her real needs are. As noted earlier, Psalm 41:1 recommends “acting with consideration.”

One reference work explains that the Hebrew term used here can mean “the process of thinking through a complex arrangement of thoughts resulting in a wise dealing.”

Therefore, to find out the best way to help, you need to give serious thought to the challenges the single parent faces. Be observant, not just taking a superficial look at the situation.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

JiltedByWords: How Can I Get the Brothers to Stop Treating Me as if I Am Bad Association?

The following is a fictionalized hypothetical question summarizing what many of those who turn apostate experience beforehand and what JW Advisor would like to say to ones experiencing this before they make a full transition to apostate. The question is generated, but the response to the question is genuine.

JiltedByWords wrote [August 2, 2016 at 6:31 am]:
The elders and the brothers and sisters in the congregations I have attended have told me I am bad association because I chose to exercise my conscience in ways that should not keep me "marked". I do not practice sin and I attend meetings every week and go out in service when I can. What should I do?
JW Advisor: Unfortunately, this is a question that often does not get careful thought like this by those affected by such circumstances.

Don't Blame the Organization

The knee-jerk reaction of complainers is to automatically assume that the attitudes of our brothers and sisters are purely the fault of the organization. The more brothers and sisters that disappoint us in a congregation, the greater our perception that it is the fault of the organization. But we have to remember that there are many more people in positions of authority in the organization than just the governing body. Thus, when one person in that chain is misusing their authority, everyone below them in that chain is affected. Problems that we perceive to be systemic on the local level, if they are not actually ourselves being critical, negative or bucking authority, would more likely be a result of one or more of the above figures of authority failing, in some capacity, to perform their duties properly.

So the problem could lie with a single elder or even with the entire body of elders in a congregation. It might even be that way in multiple congregations we have attended. Because, while congregations tend to be unique in their flavor, they all face the same problems from time to time. And if it is not the problem of an elder(s), either acting improperly or failing to act, it might be the circuit overseer who is acting improperly or failing to act. However, that is not to say that the problem you are having definitely lies with those in authority at all. It could be any number of causes, some external, but most likely internal. Take it from me: it is not likely our publications or the organization as a whole that are the issue.

Get the Facts

Now, you may know you shouldn't be marked for exercising your conscience as long as it does not lead directly to sin, and have not been disciplined by the elders, yet the congregation is treating you as marked. You need to find out why.

There are simple resolutions to this problem. One is to ask the elders directly if you have been marked. If you have not been marked, then you may ask them for help to get the congregation to stop treating you as marked. It is a legitimate request. They can then give a local needs talk to help ones determine how to show love to those who are not worthy of being marked and give ones assistance to improve their service.

If they say that the problem lies with you, then give their words some careful consideration and be introspective. They may be right. Now, if you have not already been told why they are perceiving you as bad association, ask them specifically what it is that makes you bad association. If it is no more than a conscience matter, then ask them why it is considered serious enough for you to be treated as marked though you have not been marked. You might jog their thinking by asking them what the difference is between avoiding you over this matter and keeping you marked. In fact, the resolution to all problems that lead people into apostasy is the need to ask the right questions.

Ask the Right Question

The plague among our apostates is the same plague found among many people in the world. They are not as deep of thinkers as they like to think they are. In fact, they are usually very shallow thinkers who respond to whims, rather than carefully considering their actions. It is a noble thing to sit and think carefully, not in a knee-jerk reaction to a situation, but to think about who is speaking, and whether they may be mistaken or not according to the information provided in the Bible or our publications.

When I come across someone in the ministry who makes a claim about the Bible or about Jehovah's Witnesses that is patently false, I accept that they are not likely alone in their idea and that they genuinely believe what they are saying, and are simply trying to protect themselves. Without voicing that thought, I politely and sincerely say, "That's an interesting thought. Could you tell me where I can find that in the Bible [or which of our publications]?" (Avoid acting arrogant or pompous.)

Of course, since it is not in the Bible or our publications, they will not be able to tell me where to find it. If they are certain it can be found, though not at that moment, they will no doubt tell me to look it up, to do research on it. And that is exactly what I do. When I find what they are basing their ideas on, I go back to them and address it with them politely, showing them the truth of the matter and what the Bible or our most recent publications on the matter really say, and then they have no recourse but to abandon their idea and accept what I show them from the Bible or our publications on the matter.

So the moment someone in your congregation tells you something that sounds off, try asking: "Can you tell me where to find it in the Bible or in our publications?" If they say they can't think of it off the bat, and ask you to do some research on it, then do the research. If they are mistaken, it is your job to correct them. So if it is not in the Bible, such as the college situation, look it up in the publications to find if it is based on Bible principles. If it cannot be found in the Bible or in the publications, or if you find something in the Bible or publications that contradicts the brother or sister, then show it to them. It is best to find something in the publications, not because the publications trump the Bible, but because the publications trump our personal understanding of the Bible. (I'll cover objections to that claim at another time.)

Branch Out and Develop Your Support System

Sometimes our perception of others avoiding us, is really just us avoiding them. Try reaching out. If they are indeed stand-offish, keep treating them lovingly and respectfully. Say high to them each time you see them. Be interested in them. If they refuse to return your interest, don't take it personally. It may simply be their own failing. But don't stop being nice to them. Show them respect as you would to any other brother or sister and as you would want them to treat you. (Matthew 7:12) Do this as much as you need to with all in the congregation, even if it feels one-sided. Maybe your own persistence may change the attitude of the congregation with time, patience, and most of all, your endurance.

Though, usually, you may find that the congregation warms up to your affections soon enough. Try to focus on befriending those in the congregation who seem to be good association, including elders or elder's wives, and pioneers in the congregation. Seek out those who are fine examples in hospitality and showing brotherly affection. It may start with one person who finds your positive attitude refreshing and attractive. Then another will be drawn to you and another, then another. Whether it takes a few weeks or several years, do not give up. Eventually they may come to see you as a valuable and loved member of the congregation.

We're All Human

The important thing to remember is that Jehovah's Witnesses, as individuals, are all imperfect humans. The same problems you find out in the world, you will find in any congregation. The reason is that we are not perfect. If baptism didn't make you perfect, how can you expect it to make any of them perfect? And it is not that the more brothers and sisters are gathered into one place they somehow become more perfect, but more of their flaws may in fact be visible. So always remember that neither you nor the congregation is perfect, and until the new system, no one will be perfect. So be loving, patient and kind, forgiving errors, just as Jehovah forgives your errors. (Matthew 6:11) This is the key that all of us have to exercise, or else there would be no unity at all. [August 2, 2016 at 8:08 pm]

Guest Advisor: This is a very touchy subject. Each person's experiences and demeanor both affect the way they perceive things. When we are dealing with depression (as I did for 10 years), it is easy to blame everyone else and feel persecuted. One thing that turned me around was noticing that I was the only unhappy one at the Hall. No matter how miserable I wanted others to feel, they were happy, I was not. When I stopped blaming others for my problems, things improved. Now, with over 40 years of service, looking back at the depressed time, I never stopped the ministry and never stopped the meetings. However, I did stop declaring my field service activity and my answers at the Hall were always cutting, biting, angry. I finally turned it around with Jehovah's help. [August 2, 2016 at 2:23 pm]

JW Advisor: Speaking of us all being human, there was a good illustration shared on the August JW Broadcast that helped me appreciate this. Though it was applied primarily to seeing the "bigger picture" as regards the Elders, this can serve well here also: When we zoom in on the illustrations in our magazines, all we can see are the colored spots, or the pixels (imperfections). When we zoom out, we can see the whole picture (or person), instead of just the imperfections. So the point is, we can only appreciate the depth and personality of our brothers and sisters if we "zoom out" and see their entire person, instead of only the imperfections. [August 2, 2016 at 5:15 pm]

Saturday, July 30, 2016

LoverOfWisdom: Isn't Philosophy Just Thinking Correctly?

LoverOfWisdom wrote [July 26, 2016 at 11:37 am]:
My question has to do with philosophy, I'm finishing a book that gave me the impression that we use it on a daily basis. It has a quote by C.S. Lewis, basically saying that '' if there is bad philosophy, then there is good philosophy."
Also, isn't philosophy just thinking correctly? It does mean lover of wisdom. This also being a quality of Jehovah the most high God.
JW Advisor: It has to do with what philosophy is. It is a guessing game that depends upon a premise being true, relying upon ourselves and our own knowledge and wisdom, and not upon God. Adam and Eve chose to go their own way, deciding for themselves what is right and what is wrong and thus became alienated from God. (Genesis 3:1-7) Philosophy is meant to allow people to go their own way.

The reason we do not resort to philosophy is because we already have a premise and a source of correct thinking, which is the Christ and God's written word in the Scriptures. We do not need to play a guessing game. We need only to stick ever more closely to the Scriptures. As we do so, our understanding becomes clearer. We do not need to wander about in the philosophies and empty deceptions of men.

Notice what Paul said: "Look out that no one takes you captive by means of the philosophy and empty deception according to human tradition, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8) Paul nailed it. Philosophy is an empty deception according to human tradition and the elementary things of the world, not according to Christ. Paul instructed Timothy to "guard what has been entrusted to you, turning away from the empty speeches that violate what is holy and from the contradictions of the falsely called 'knowledge.' By making a show of such knowledge, some have deviated from the faith." (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

What Paul is saying in these things is that philosophy is a source of apostate thinking, not relying upon "the mind of Christ". (1 Corinthians 2:11-16) Philosophies produce doubts and doubts cause ones to be "blown about by every wind of teaching". James said, "So if any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching, and it will be given him. But let him keep asking in faith, not doubting at all." That is how we acquire wisdom, but regarding the use of philosophy, which relies upon skepticism and doubt, James says, "for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and blown about. In fact, that man should not expect to receive anything from Jehovah; he is an indecisive man, unsteady in all his ways." (James 1:5-8)

Now, what we can do to help our thinking is to study logic and reasoning in order to learn how to identify false reasoning. But we should not "make a show" of it. We should use our thinking ability carefully, using God's word to give us the rock foundation upon which to stand, which is Jehovah God through his Son, Jesus Christ. (Deuteronomy 32:4; Luke 6:47-49) We do not need to play a guessing game. Jehovah is our rock. Indeed, who has more wisdom than God?

To the Corinthians, who were in a place inundated by philosophers and human philosophy, Paul wrote, "For the speech about the torture stake is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is God’s power. For it is written: 'I will make the wisdom of the wise men perish, and the intelligence of the intellectuals I will reject.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this system of things? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not get to know God through its wisdom, God was pleased through the foolishness of what is preached to save those believing.

"For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks look for wisdom; but we preach Christ executed on the stake, to the Jews a cause for stumbling but to the nations foolishness. However, to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because a foolish thing of God is wiser than men, and a weak thing of God is stronger than men.

"For you see his calling of you, brothers, that there are not many wise in a fleshly way, not many powerful, not many of noble birth, but God chose the foolish things of the world to put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world to put the strong things to shame; and God chose the insignificant things of the world and the things looked down on, the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, so that no one might boast in the sight of God. But it is due to him that you are in union with Christ Jesus, who has become to us wisdom from God, also righteousness and sanctification and release by ransom, so that it may be just as it is written: 'The one who boasts, let him boast in Jehovah.'" (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

In fact, it could not be said better than the way Solomon put it, "Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight. Do not become wise in your own eyes." (Proverbs 3:5-8 1984 NWT Reference Bible) Jeremiah wrote, "man’s way does not belong to him. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step." Thus, to be a follower of Christ, a worshipper of Jehovah, we must reject philosophy and adopt the loving and obedient mind of Christ in loyalty to Jehovah God.

I'm not sure I could make it any clearer than that. Jehovah is our source of wisdom through Jesus Christ. So I recommend to put down the philosophy books and pick up the torture stake and follow Christ continually. (Matthew 10:38; Mark 8:34 1984 NWT Reference Bible) [July 27, 2016 at 12:58 pm]

Guest Advisor: LoverOfWisdom, that JW Advisor has pretty much covered everything with excellent scripture references. I just thought, though, maybe you are confusing philosophy with critical thinking. As the JW Advisor mentions, philosophy is a kind of guess work, whereas critical thinking is using ones ability to think and analyze information in order to reach the correct conclusion. As the Bible says, philosophy is useless, whereas critical thinking is actually useful. Think Beroeans. [July 28, 2016 at 11:24 pm]

LoverOfWisdom wrote [July 29, 2016 at 6:57 pm]:
Hmmm, I think I might be confusing philosophy with critical thinking. Good point, Guest Advisor!
So what would we call the kalam cosmological argument? It's called a philosophical argument for God's existence. Or the moral argument, that is also a philosophical argument for objective morals, which refutes relativism, which is the very thing Adam and Eve did, as the JW Advisor mentioned.
JW Advisor: KCA and CA are arguments clearly stated in the Bible for the most part, but, as I will show below, the execution of KCA by William Lane Craig is flawed, or rather, incomplete. Also, moral relativism is a rather disgusting philosophy established by Satan himself.

Kalam Cosmological Argument
Simply naming the first argument as the "Kalam Cosmological Argument" does not make it an invention of Islam or of William Lane Craig except in its signature flawed conclusion which is uniquely his, and is the part based upon Islamic philosophy. The original Cosmological Argument is not even an invention of Plato. As Dr. Craig brings out himself, the Bible very clearly states the argument in the most perfect statement ever made:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)
In fact, those words go beyond both CA and KCA. All that happened with those men mentioned above is that they put it into syllogistic form, which is an attempt at critical thinking because it allows you to analyze the validity (valid or invalid) and factualness (true or false) of the statements. But the CA syllogism and the KCA's attempt at a complex sylligism is already present in the above Bible text, which implies the whole of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, saying:

Cosmological Argument
Tertiary Premise
1. True Premise: It is true that the universe has a beginning. ("In the beginning")
    Unspoken Premise: Things that have a beginning have a cause.
2. If/then Proposition: If the universe has a beginning, then
3. Conclusion: The universe has a cause. ("created")

The Kalam Cosmoloigical Argument
Secondary Premise
1. True Premise: The Cosmological Argument (above): It is true that "the universe has a cause".
    Unspoken Premise: Things that have a cause have a catalyst.
2. If/then Proposition: If the universe has a cause ("created"), then
    Unspoken  (Ignored) Conclusion: The universe has a catalyst (Creator).
3. Primary Conclusion (Asserted): "an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful"

However, William Lane Craig's conclusion is imperfect (invalid) because it is an assertion without supporting evidence that introduces factors not covered by the syllogism, namely that the first cause (catalyst) is 1) a living being, 2) uncreated, 3) changeless, 4) immaterial, 5) timeless, 6) spaceless and 7) enormously powerful. That is not to say that his conclusion is incorrect, but that it is missing everything in between. This is lazy. While poetic, it is merely guess work if it has no syllogisms or proof. (That is why it is not actual logic, and demonstrates the flaws of philosophy.)

Thus the Bible's conclusion is superior when Paul said, "Of course, every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God." (Hebrews 3:4) Why is it superior? Because he likened the universe to a house, which has many comparisons just in its mention, including its need for careful planning and execution. That illustration could be expanded in a number of ways to produce many syllogisms that can be tested and shown to be true.

Conclusion: The Kalam Cosmological argument is flawed logic because its conclusion does not proceed from the sum of its premises. Thus, it falls under the scope of guesswork, therefore philosophy.

Moral Relativism
Yes, Eve, in effect, embraced moral relativism, which proceeds from the false logic espoused by Satan that anyone can be moral, deciding for themselves what is right and what is wrong. Satan hid the true premise from Eve and instead used personal attacks against God to undermine her trust in the system of morals espoused by God. Untrained in the ways of logic, Eve did not seek to pursue Satan's underlying premise. The premise he espoused was "For God knows that in the day of your eating from it, you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad." (Genesis 1:5) In other words, God is a moral being who is trying to force his own system of morals upon Eve to get her to not be a moral being with self-determination, but to be a puppet of God.

Satan's real premise was: "I don't want to be ruled by God and I want to have others follow after me and the way to do that is to get people to become dissatisfied with God's rule over them just as I have. I felt restricted, therefore I will make them feel restricted by helping them to crave freedom apart from God." (Jude 16)

Thus, moral relativism is most definitely satanic philosophy. It is also a rejection of God's right to rule us. The correct thinking is that God created us, therefore he knows more about our needs than we do and we should trust him to set out guidelines for our benefit.

However, inversely, William Lane Craig's moral justification route is also a flawed philosophy. The claim to God-given moral superiority, as Craig espouses, is a crime of modern religious thought that allowed Catholics to persecute and kill anyone that did not belong to Abrahamic religion and even other Abrahamic faiths and Christian sects. It is the excuse behind the persecution and murder of many people, including atheists and pagans.

It is the age-old premise that we know morals because God first presented morals to us. An atheist or anti-theist purist who rejects all things based upon theocentric (deist) religion can therefore not be moral. This ignores the fact that we are provided with consciences that develop a system of morals throughout our life, apart from God. (Romans 2:14) That does not mean those morals will be correct in comparison to God's morals, but they create a system all the same. Even sociopaths and psychotics have their own system of morals, though often those morals are askew and do not include a concern for human life.

Mankind is moral because we are thinking beings. God is moral because he is a thinking being. If religionists were taught to be moral by God's law, then who taught God? Do you see the flaw? Morality is a natural outflow of intelligence and self-awareness. That is exactly why Adam and Eve could determine right and wrong for themselves. That part is not a lie. Even God said, "Here the man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad." (Genesis 3:22)

The lie is in suggesting that they could do so flawlessly on their own. It does not take God's law to tell us that murder is wrong. Pure logic could bring us to that conclusion. For example, we do not want to be killed because we fear ceasing to exist, and we do not want someone we care about to cease to exist, therefore it is wrong for they or us to be killed by our estimation, and if it affects me that way, it no doubt affects others that way, thus purposefully killing someone is wrong. God is not required to bring one to that conclusion. God certainly gave us a conscience when he created us. But it is a part of our free will to pay attention to that conscience or not and to form our own opinions about things, but it was Satan who merged opinion with morality, saying that we could form our own opinions about what is right and wrong without reliance upon God. Who, by the way, is the most intelligent being in existence and knows more about morality than anyone else in the universe he created ever could. Thus, we are under obligation to trust God's system of morals more than anyone else's in more ways than one.

So yes, moral relativism, along with moral justification, are flawed philosophies and their very nature is dependent upon guesswork. Atheists are not wicked by virtue of their not adhering to God's laws. (Romans 2:12) God does not need to guess, and he does not want us to have to guess either. Thus, trust in God's word, not in philosophy, just as God's word says:
"Trust in Jehovah with all your heart
And do not lean upon your own understanding.
In all your ways take notice of him,
And he himself will make your paths straight."
 —Proverbs 3:5-6 (1984 NWT Reference Bible)
[July 28, 2016 at 11:07pm]

Paul showed that we are not under Law. (Romans 6:14) If we are not under law, then by Dr. Craig's line of reasoning, we are "lawless". However, it is by Jehovah's undeserved kindness (Grace) that we get a reprieve from law while doing our utmost to act righteously. Atheists, too, can act righteously of their own accord by their own nature. (Romans 2:14) Thus morality is not an invention of God, but a system of moral standards has been clearly defined in God's word for our benefit.

I respect Dr. Craig, but he is a theologian (God philosopher) and his dependence upon these two philosophies (KCA and Moral Justification), which pop up in nearly every debate he is in, are corrupt ideas with no correct basis in Scripture. The Trinity is also a philosophy he subscribes to, so we can see that just being good at debate is not enough to be wise. The Scriptures alone should be the source of all teaching. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) [July 30, 2016 at 4:54 pm]

Guest Advisor: Insight On the Scriptures, Vol. 2: Philosophy

Men's empty reasonings, [which] confuse, befuddle, and muddy the clear waters of truth are typically the way I describe the babblings of the "world's" so-called wisdom. Even as scripture highlights, God's word is "foolishness" to unbelievers. In contrast, we as Jehovah's Witnesses, have come to accept that God's word can indeed make us well-rounded as a person, qualified to teach "the Word." 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 [July 31, 2016 at 12:26 pm]

Anything that devalues God and his wisdom, whether that thinking try to upstage God's wisdom by claiming it is better, or outrightly discrediting God's wisdom by some contradictory teaching, that seems to be the contrast scripture draws between God's wisdom and the philosophy of men (alienated from God's thinking). [July 31, 2016 at 12:35 pm]

JW Advisor: It is "guesswork" in exactly the sense that the article you linked to highlighted. (Thank you for the link, by the way.) The article said that it was a "human endeavor", that it lacks in God's thoughts. It also says that it seeks to "interpret" through "speculation" based upon "the whole of human experience."

Since we're covering definitions, some may be confused about the difference between philosophy and the scholastic discipline known as "critical thinking" (Logic and reasoning), which is not actually the discipline of being "critical", (a misnomer) but of being careful to analyze. The probably reason LoverOfWisdom's confusion may be because critical thinking was actually discovered, expounded and refined by philosophers over many centuries.

The difference between the two is that each and every philosophy is disputed and has counter-philosophies and refutations, but while there are many systems of critical thinking, they all share the basic belief that critical thinking is a correct and valuable practice, meaning that everyone gets benefit from it and therefore it is universally agreed that it is an actual thing and not simply guesswork, though much guesswork has taken place to get us to the point of understanding it.

These things are all universally agreed aspects of logic and reasoning:

Syllogisms produce accurate and verifiable results. In fact, we have whole disciplines of theoretical science based upon it. So it has solid footing.

Along with it are the understandings of premises, if/then propositions, and grounds/claims/conclusions. (Nomenclature depending on how it is used and who you ask.) Indeed, it is so reliable that computer programming language itself is based upon it and is the perfect expression of logic in a mechanical form. Thus, it is all a proven fact.

Of great benefit, also, is identifying the common formal and informal fallacies. Regardless of the list of fallacies you use, they are all technically correct, but simply with different means of defining the differences between different types of fallacies. The fallacies are real, but the definitions of those fallacies differs according to preference.

The word "argument" has become a misnomer in modern language, as it has come to be associated with debate, even violent disputes, so a better term is simply "line of reasoning". Thinking about it in those terms can help us to maintain a peaceful attitude when trying to persuade ones. Also, debate is two-sided. As long as we make it clear that we are there to teach and not debate, we can avoid debate. Thus, the ones listening can either accept our statements and ask us questions, or not. We want to avoid any discussion with non-believer who is trying to instruct us.

However, there is one drawback in all of this, and that is becoming "puffed up" on account of knowledge, as Paul warned us about. (1 Corinthians 8:1-3) Someone who is puffed up over their knowledge about logic and reasoning and the many fallacies is lacking in love. Thus, it is one thing to be very well versed in critical thinking, but another to let it cause you to become a debater wanting only to show off his skill as it once did me. I eventually learned that it was not loving to debate and that the Scriptures teach us that God despises debates. (Proverbs 3:7; Ecclesiastes 7:8; Romans 12:16-18; 1 Timothy 2:8, 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 2:23-26)

So instead of just making accusations and spouting off names of fallacies, we need to exercise love and patience and carefully show ones where their thinking is deviating, not with logic terms, but with explaining by analogous examples, like Jesus and Paul. (Paul's house analogy is a supreme example of this.) Also, instead of trying to formulate and analyze syllogisms, we should reform syllogisms into coherent statements such as the perfect statement at Genesis 1:1.

It is by these means that we can persuade ones by use of the Scriptures and our faith in Jesus Christ. (Acts 9:22; 17:11; 19:8; 2 Timothy 3:14-17) In fact, without basing our lines of reasoning upon Jesus Christ, we will only be misled. (1 John 4:1-3) [July 31, 2016 at 4:23 pm]

LoverOfWisdom wrote [August 2, 2016 at 7:57 pm]:
Agreed. Thanx for explaining the difference for me, I now can see the difference between the two. Much appreciated!
JW Advisor: You are very welcome. That is the wonderful thing about belonging to Jehovah's organization, we can speak in agreement and draw ever closer because of it, and as a result draw ever closer to our God. Thank you for bringing your question to us. May the peace of our God Jehovah guide you. [July 2, 2016 at 10:40pm]
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