What did he think of the Governing Body?
Michael Joseph Jackson was not shy about saying how he felt about leaders among Jehovah’s Witnesses. All one has to do is read the chapter, “Jehovah’s Witnesses Years and Religion” in the book The Michael Jackson Tapes (2009) by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Some of the subheadings in the chapter are quite intriguing: “Did Michael See Himself as God’s Chosen? Did He Have Special Healing Powers?,” “Racism, Religion, and Anti-Semitism,” “Feeling Godlike, Connecting to the Divine,” and, “Rejection by the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church.” Given all these subheadings, the Gloved One only spoke specifically about local congregation elders. He never explicitly discussed the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the tapes. So, how did he feel about the Governing Body?
Homework: As detailed in Part 2 of this series, the ancient Beroeans performed a full ‘body scan’ of the apostles and older men in Jerusalem–the first-century governing body–as represented by Paul and Silas. (Acts 17:11; 13:1-3; 15:1-16:5; Galatians 1:13-2:14) Irrespective of how the highest administrative body of Jehovah’s Witnesses may feel about it, many Witnesses (and non-Witnesses alike) are quietly doing their homework, and are issuing grades on Governing Body decisions in the spirit of 1 John 4:1.
Commentator Albert Barnes provides this critique of 1 John 4:1: “The true and the false teachers of religion alike claimed to be under the influence of the Spirit of God, and it was of importance that all such pretensions should be examined. It was not to be admitted because anyone claimed to have been sent from God that therefore he was sent. Every such claim should be subjected to the proper proof before it was conceded. All pretensions to divine inspiration, or to being authorised teachers of religion, were to be examined by the proper tests, because there were many false and delusive teachers who set up such claims in the world.”
Wayward Students?: As teachers of Jehovah’s Witnesses, some of the faithful claim Governing Body members may not take too kindly to congregants discovering and disseminating Scriptural truths before they do. This is unofficially labeled “running ahead.” But, one “wayward” student asks: “Can I truly outrun God’s ‘spirit-directed’ organization? Does God’s spirit sometimes lead his earthly organization in the wrong direction?” The answer is no. The Bible is available to the world for study, and any who lives by it is led by His spirit.
The Governing Body, too, is “spirit-directed” when it allows God’s inspired Word to direct them. When it doesn’t–which happens on occasion–it isn’t “spirit-directed” for that moment in time. God’s perfect spirit never misleads or misdirects anyone. Neither do the faithful seriously question the collective motive of the Governing Body. Bible students know that the Governing Body is capable of mistakenly drawing the wrong conclusion on Scripture, or arriving at an incorrect understanding of it. Congregants recognize that a group of imperfect men–no matter how well intentioned-will at times make imperfect decisions. Quoting Scripture isn’t enough.
“Convincing Evidence”: Acts 1:3 speaks of “positive proofs” in connection with Jesus’ resurrection. The ancient Greek word for “proofs” is related to the English word “token.” It is “properly, a marker (sign-post) supplying indisputable information, ‘marking something off’ as unmistakable (irrefutable)” and “is akin to tekmor a ‘fixed boundary, goal, end’; hence fixed or sure,” says one source. The Governing Body should not be held to this standard. However, when making a Scriptural point, there is an expectation of “convincing evidence” or ‘arguments.’ (Hebrews 11:1, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures–With References, footnote) Truth is not automatically innate within the Governing Body itself. Believe when scripturally convincing arguments are made, some observers affirm. This seems reasonable.
Though Jehovah used Moses, the priests, and the Levites, the Israelites weren’t to believe these leaders based on their organizational status. Instead, Moses was directed to record “all the words of this law, making them quite clear,” and to encourage Israel to “carry out his commandments and his regulations.” (Deuteronomy 27:8-10; NWT) GOD’S “words,” “commandments” and “regulations” were to be made “quite clear”!
Final Grade: Frankly, the Governing Body received a few “needs improvement” on Michael’s report card, but still received a very good overall grade. In this regard, two questions have been asked and answered: “Is Jehovah’s organization ever wrong?” Yes. “But is it ever the wrong organization?” Michael would say no. That’s why he never joined another. Up next, Part 4