The Gloved One & the Governing Body
How Michael viewed Jehovah's Witnesses highest council
Day 315, Week 45, Article 44
In light of last week's article, "The King of Pop and the Presbyters" (April 29, 2010), it should be noted that in dealing with the elders among Jehovah's Witnesses, Michael Jackson danced with them for as long as his spiritual constitution could stand. While the elders were duty-bound to investigate what some saw as baseless charges of a conscience matter against him, the Moonwalker tired of walking his way to the "back room of doom" where overseers, who consulted with Governing Body representatives, questioned him with rigor. (1 Tim. 5:19; 2 Cor. 13:1; Deut 13:14; 1 Cor. 10:31, 32)
Being unfamiliar with how to handle a Witness star of Michael's magnitude (Larry Graham, Theresa Graves, George Benson and others were already Witnesses), well-meaning elders did their best in sorting through the mess. In the end however, the free-spirited freethinking Gloved One concluded as did the apostle Paul who said that it was "a very trivial matter that I should be examined by you [the congregation] or a human tribunal," namely, the "appointed older men" in the congregation. (1 Cor. 4:3-5; Acts 14:23) Michael eventually saw the overseers as being distressingly ill-equipped to handle his case. Regrettably, some were even wrongly motivated. This circumstance is not new.
"Some From Among Us": When "the apostles and older men" of the Jerusalem congregation met to discuss a raging organizational matter, they acknowledged that "some from among us have caused you trouble with speeches, trying to subvert your souls, although we did not give them any instructions." (Acts 15:6, 24) Indeed, "certain men came down from Judea," where Jerusalem was, "and began to teach the brothers" baseless Christian doctrine that caused much "dissention and disputing" between these "certain [responsible] men" and "Paul and Barnabas." (Acts 15:1, 2) As noted, the matter was resolved by the governing body of "apostles and older men" who were inspired by God's spirit as indicated by the opening words of their letter to the congregations: "The holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you." (Acts 15:22-35) Did Michael believe that "the holy spirit" was with the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses as it was with the governing body of "apostles and older men"?
The Governing Body Today: While today's Governing Body considers that it is directed by God's holy spirit as it adheres to His inspired word, it does not see itself as being inspired of God. Contrariwise, the apostles were not only inspired of God, but along with Old Testament prophets (among them inspired Bible-writing prophets), they formed the very foundation or infrastructure of the Christian Congregation, with Christ Jesus himself serving as its cornerstone. (Eph. 2:20) So, the letter sent out by the first-century Governing Body of "apostles and older men" appearing at Acts 15:23-29, and read along with other "decrees that had been decided upon by the apostles and older men who were in Jerusalem," was inspired. (Acts 16:4, 5) Today's Governing Body, located in Brooklyn, New York, makes no claims that any communiquÅ½ it sends out is inspired of God.
A Balanced View: Even the inspired Governing Body of the first-century consulted the Scriptures when deciding organizational matters. (Acts 15:6-21) And though some held the position of "apostles" among them, this of itself did not impress Paul. (Gal. 2:1-9) In fact, Paul had to check both Barnabas and Peter when they discriminated against their brothers. (Gal. 2:11-14) There was no Scriptural basis for such biased thinking and actions. The point is, God's written Word trumps congregational or organizational position. Take the case of the Rechabites.
In proving the point that there are faithful ones who'll adhere to commands despite being told to do something contrary by a responsible worshipper with legitimate authority, Jehovah directed Prophet Jeremiah to order the Rechabites to contradict commands they were given. (Jer. 35:1-15) Jehovah boasted that the Rechabites defied his faithful prophet Jeremiah in contradistinction to the Israelites who "have not listened to me." (Jer. 35:16) The Rechabites received a lasting reward. (Jer. 36:17-19.
Conclusion: No, Michael Jackson was not perfect. But, many feel that all the good he did far outweighs his foibles. They assert that his life course is not too dissimilar from the pattern we find in Moses, Solomon, Jehu and others. All these did wonderful things in the name of God, but faltered in some way toward the end of their ministries. Still, the Scriptures give us reason to believe that they nonetheless died in God's favor.
And regarding its view of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, what does today's Governing Body have to say for itself? In the latest Witness publication, "Bearing Thorough Witness" About God's Kingdom (2009), the highest Witness council humbly acknowledges: "The Governing Body relies on God's holy spirit for direction. Its members do not regard themselves as the leaders of Jehovah's people. Rather, like all anointed Christians on earth, they 'keep following the Lamb [Jesus Christ] no matter where he goes.'-Rev. 14:4." Amen.