If the Governing Body is "Neither Inspired nor Infallble", Why Obey its Direction? [Opposers Dismythed]

The governing body once again repeated a frank, but humble admission in the February 2017 Watchtower on p. 26: "The Governing Body is neither inspired nor infallible". This is not a significant revelation as they have never claimed inspiration or infallibility. This was merely another reminder.

What Is the Difference?

The English word "inspired" has a more nuanced meaning than the Greek word "pneumata" (meaning 'actuated by spirit'.) When someone claims to be "inspired by God", (Gk. "theopneustos"; 2 Timothy 3:16), they mean that their words are actually coming from God. This is what the GB means when they say they are not "inspired".

Now when they say "directed by holy spirit", they mean it in the sense of Matthew 4:1, Acts 8:39 or Romans 8:14, to be led or directed, as if by being pointed in a direction, not being told what to do or what to say.

The issue that causes confusion for some is that holy spirit is not a feeling, as they may expect. It is an actuating force. Therefore, unless it speaks by a person, there is no way to know that they have been moved by holy spirit. There is no test by which we may know, except by the results. And those are the results about which we speak below.

Thus, in one sense they are not "inspired" with messages from God, but they may still be "inspired" to do the will of God by being moved by holy spirit. They simply make a distinction between the limited usage of "inspired" toward receiving messages from God, and choose a different wording, namely "directed by holy spirit" to express its influence on their actions.

It does not prevent them from making mistakes or cause them to keep others from making mistakes. It only motivates them to do God's unspoken will, but they cannot identify when that is until results become evident.

Being "Inspired" Is Not Necessary

Below is a list of groups of people also "not inspired nor infallible":

Government Officials
Police Officers
College Professors
Scientists
Company Managers
Teachers
Parents
You
Me...

. . . and anyone not named Jehovah or Jesus. Yet, despite this glaring fact, opposers claim that since the governing body is not "inspired or infallible" we do not have to follow any direction coming from them. Yet, those same people willingly obey the laws created by a non "inspired or infallible" Government.

Since they do not require inspiration or infallibility as a condition for their own obedience to local laws, how can they require it of the governing body's direction? Why hold us to a standard they do not hold themselves to? Can you see the problem with this viewpoint? Should you abandon someone who is "neither inspired nor infallible" only to follow after someone else who is not inspired or infallible simply because they accuse the other of such as if it were a bad thing?

The real question is, does the Bible place that condition on the Christian Congregation?

Obeying Those "Taking The Lead" 

The condition for obedience in the Scriptures is not based on whether someone is inspired or perfect, rather, it is based on their responsibilities. In a business setting, you are obligated to follow the direction of your manager, not because he is infallible, but because he is responsible for your department. Likewise, in the Christian Congregation, infallibility or inspiration does not come into the picture. Some examples are:
  • Hebrews 13:17 - "Be convinced in those leading you and be submissive. . . for they are keeping watch over your souls".*
  • Hebrews 13:7 - "Remember those taking the lead"
  • 1 Timothy 5:17 - "Let the older men [or "elder"] who presides be worthy of double honor.."
  • Acts 16:4 - "..the decrees that had been decided upon by the apostles and older men".
  • 1 Peter 5:1,2 - "Therefore to the older men. . . shepherd the flock of God.."
* literal translation.

As you can see, our obedience is based on their responsibilities. There is no indication that the Bible wants us to only obey "inspired and infallible" individuals. Of course, we obey Jehovah and Jesus first. However, not one of the apostles or the elders were infallible, yet, we are still told to be obedient to them because they follow Jehovah and Jesus the best way they can.

So why are we obedient to the governing body's direction? Quite simply, people gather to ones they see as worthy of being followed. They do it all the time. They did it with Jesus, they did it with the apostles and older men in Jerusalem and they did it with all the sects that broke away from the apostatized congregation and they did it with C. T. Russell and later Judge Rutherford.

Some have followed after ones who have fallen away, and some of those have realized their mistake and come back. But the difference between the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses and many of Christendom is that the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses have actually proved worthy and demonstrated an appointment they have received from Christ himself.

Who Jesus Appointed  

Jesus would appoint a "faithful and discreet slave" over his domestics. (Matthew 24:45) The condition for their appointment? Being "faithful and discreet". Thus, they had to already be serving in a position of authority. And what would this slave be responsible for doing? Giving "food at the proper time".

How did that come to be? When the 7 times of Daniel's prophecy (Daniel 4:13-27) ended in 1914 according to our calculations, the Great War broke out and the Bible Students, as we were then called, continued to preach door to door as Christ directed, (Luke 9 and 10) until in 1917 the governing body of the day, the directors of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, after enduring severe persecution, were falsely imprisioned under pressure on political leaders by religious leaders. Then they were appointed as "the faithful and discreet slave" over Christ's "domestics" in 1919 when the power of false religion to destroy the Bible Students was broken and the Society directors were freed and all charges dropped. They had stayed faithful under test and proved themselves worthy.

This appointment was announced in the April 1, 1920 Watchtower. (Note that Christ also announced his own appointment at Luke 4:16-21. His appointment was not by his announcement, but it was what he did afterward that proved his appointment by holy spirit, just as the governing body has proved itself worthy of their appointment ever since.) However, while they have been appointed over the domestics on earth, their appontment over all the master's belongings in heaven is still future.

Not once is infallibility or inspiration mentioned as a condition of being that slave. Jesus equated mistreating that slave with disobeying him in their "eating and drinking with the confirmed drunkards," under penalty of severe punishment. (Matthew 24:48-51) So based on these scriptures, we believe the governing body is this "slave", and we obey them because Jesus wants us to.

We recognize this by the beneficial timing of the spiritual food they provide. (Matthew 5:6) It continually refines us and molds us individually to become more righteous. At times it has later been found to fulfill Bible prophecy or prepared us for coming trials that fulfilled Bible prophecy, though they never once presented original prophecy.

But how do we deal with the mistakes they made in the past, and may make in the future? Why not recognize that they are humans who can err, just like any of us? Is it not unforgiving to demand unscriptural infallability and then balk at a mistake? Since none of us appointed this "slave", we are in no position to remove them, or to sit in judgement of them. (Matthew 7:1) Based on how they carry out their duties, they will "render an account" to God, not us. (Hebrews 13:17) So we must have faith that Jehovah will take care of any issues or possible mismanagement on their part, and we must do our part and trust that Jesus knows what he is doing. What basis is there for us to believe this?

Consider the example of one elder who no longer met the scriptural qualifications to serve. The local elder body recognized that the elder no longer qualified to serve, and he was thus removed. In a sense, seeing that the Bible is a product of Holy Spirit, it can be said that Jehovah removed him because He set the standard. Likewise, with the governing body, they are held to the same standard. Even if they err seriously enough, it will be manifested sooner or later. (1 Tim 5:24) Faith comes in when we trust that process.

This does not mean we cannot voice legitimate concerns. We can contact headquarters directly, or speak to local elders with sincere questions about things that may concern us. Exercising either option carries no congregational sanctions whatsoever, and is not "frowned upon". However, it is worth keeping in mind the need to be patient. If your concern is not immediately addressed, it does not mean no one cares or that some divine message is being conveyed to you. Just wait on Jehovah (Micah 7:7) and ask yourself who would you go away to? (John 6:68)

So we have a few options here. We can trust Jesus and go through the proper channels of voicing our concerns, including allowing Jehovah to correct matters, or we can develop a complaining spirit, unreasonably expecting perfection, and end up leaving the organization. Keep in mind too, that the world outside of the organization is filled with people who are not only just as uninspired and fallible as the governing body is, but also lack the "sayings of everlasting life". (Matthew 6:68)

The Human Condition

It is not lost on us here at Opposers Dismythed that it can be difficult for people to obey the direction of religious leadership. After all, history has shown just how corrupt and unloving religious leaders have been, and can be. The governing body has had its share of errors as well. However, it would be a mistake to lump the governing body in with those bad leaders. Why? Here are a few reasons:

  • They have no political affiliation(s) collectively or individually.
This frees them from having hidden personal and political agendas and from becoming bedfellows with people who care little to nothing about God and the Bible, which is a recipe for corruption. There are many religious leaders who lead the same organization but despise each other for belonging to the opposing political party.

  • They are open about adjustments, and give reasons for them.
Take a look at the Beliefs Clarified section of our research website. You will see a lot of adjustments over the last 100 years. This shows that (1) they have the humility necessary to change, and (2) they do not want blind obedience. Changes are thoroughly explained, and the scriptural and practical reasons for them are given. There is virtually no excuse for any member to not know about them.

  • They obey God as Ruler rather than men.
Religion has become more and more sensitive to the demands of the general public. The problem with that arises when those demands run contrary to clear Bible teachings. For example, gay marriage is clearly against the Bible's standard for marriage. Yet, unlike many organizations today, the governing body has stuck to God's standards, no matter the social repercussions.

Clearly, we have reasons to trust and obey the direction given through the governing body. There is no Biblical basis for failing to obey their direction. Why not acceed to their authority and reap the benefits of being associated with such humble, god-fearing men?

Comments

Robert said…
I'd say what makes their claims even more laughable is that this has made its rounds on the internet, with many claiming that the GB has "admitted" they're not "inspired". The June 15, 1957 Watchtower page 375 par 23 says of the "slave": "they are certainly not inspired".

As the article mentioned, this isn't breaking news.
Dismythed said…
I first likened the apostate response to this post to that of an earthquake, but it is more like we kicked them where they live. They are scurrying out of the woodwork for this one. Their religion of hate toward the governing body has mobilized. Their hatred of Jehovah’s representatives is palpable. They spit out lies about the Bible to justify their hatred and call it “love” for us poor, ignorant souls.

They reject Jesus’ own words that the Master appointed the FDS _OVER_ his domestics, but claim that the evil slave is the one who appoints himself over them. Yet the Scriptures do not say that at all. It actually says that the apostate wicked slave would beat their former brothers and associate with the spiritual drunkards of false religion who are drunk on the wine of their fornication, just as those apostates are doing. No mention is made of authority at all. Hypocrites. Get your own house in order before trying to tear down someone else’s.

With Heb 13:17, they focus on the word "Peithesthe", which actually indicates confidence rather than persuasion according to Thayer's Lexicon, and they completely ignore that the phrase says to "be submissive" (Gk. "hypeikete") to those who are esteemed (Leading) to us.

Another thing they erroneously like to claim is that counter to our interpretation of Luke 9 and 10, the first century disciples did not preach door-to-door, but only went to public squares and synagogues, yet what do the Scriptures say? Read for yourself: Acts 5:42; 10:1-48; 11:3; 20:20.

Jesus did not say "do not preach to houses". He said "do not be transferring" once we found someone who would listen to the word. (Luke 10:5-7) Jesus was not giving a continuous command, but was speaking only in regard to having found someone to listen. He was clearly referring to going to people's homes to preach.

The fact that he mentions eating and drinking what they provide clearly refers, not to a synagogue, but to actual homes where meals are served daily. And clearly they were not already Christians, so he could not have meant congregations.

But apostates want it easy. They want to lay back and let ministers and missionaries do the work. They want to bury the coins lent to them in the ground so they can give it back to the Lender when he arrives, as a spit in the face against his suggestion that they should make disciples. But the only disciples they are interested in making are more like themselves who reject Christ's gift, the ministry he gave them and reject also those whom he appointed, just like those Jews who balked under the yoke Jehovah put on them. They are wicked and sluggish. (Mt 25:24-30)

But they are blind, given to falsehoods, and we do not expect them to wake up to the truth, though some do.
Robert said…
Robert MurpheyAugust 13, 2017 at 9:30 AM

Those are good points, good points. This post was a straight up gut punch I see. And we have expanded our ministry to public places, and they say that we are trying to "take it easy" and get out of doing the door-to-door work.

Which is it? Its all about taking an adversarial stance no matter what we do. Apostates of Jesus day did him the exact same way -- hounded him down and opposed everthing he said and did.
Opposers Dismythed said…
Added "and be submissive" to Hebrews 13:17 to drive the point home.
Dismythed said…
By the way, for those who did not understand, this post was not a defense of the organization, but an explanation as to why we, as non-members of the governing body, choose to follow their direction. We have compared them to Christendom's leaders and found those leaders lacking by comparison. And certainly we will not follow after apostates who follow their own bellies.
Opposers Dismythed said…
Yeah, and our decision to follow their direction was not one we made our of ignorance or because we were "told to".

One doesn't progress to baptism, to serving in the congregation, to becoming a Pioneer etc because he was somehow forced into following the advice of the GB. Those are all privileges one volunteers to do after he's proven that he qualifies, which takes some time to achieve, and which at some point has to be sincere and from the heart.
Dalmatino said…
very good reasoning. tnx for this article.
Opposers Dismythed said…
I wonder if any one of them would call a person who constantly messages his ex-wife to debate the reasons for their divorce an "activist"?
Hobgoblin238 said…
Thank you so much for this. I myself have fallon away. Saw the bitterness of apostates and fell into apathy. Studying the Bible with my wife has led me to seek out fine reasoning instead of the apostate crap. Thanks for this. Believe or not you help people.
Opposers Dismythed said…
Thank you for your post, brother! You've proven that the very best way to remain loyal to Jehovah is to read and study the Bible daily. Apostates are good at targeting your emotions so to embitter you and to eventually use you as a weapon against your brothers. We are glad to hear that you've allowed your reasoning on the scriptures to win out. Keep up the fine work!
Anonymous [1:12pm on May 6, 2019]:

The English word "inspired" has a more nuanced meaning than the Greek word "pneumata" (meaning 'actuated by spirit'.)

When someone claims to be "inspired by God", (Gk. "theopneustos"; 2 Timothy 3:16), they mean that their words are actually coming from God. This is what the GB mean when they say they are not "inspired".

Now when they say "directed by holy spirit", they mean it in the sense of Mt 4:1, Acts 8:39 or Romans 8:14, to be led or directed, as if by being pointed in a direction, not being told what to do or what to say.

The problem is that holy spirit is not a feeling. It is an acuating force. Therefore, unless it speaks by a person, there is no way to know that they have been moved by holy spirit. There is no test by which we may know, except by the results. And those are the results about which I spoke throughout the post.

Thus, in one sense they are not "inspired" with messages from God, but they may still be "inspired" to do the will of God by being moved by holy spirit. They simply make a distinction between the limited usage of "inspired" toward receiving messages from God, and choose a different wording, namely "directed by holy spirit" to express its influence on their actions.

It does not prevent them from making mistakes or cause them to keep others from making mistakes. It only motivates them to do God's will, but they cannot identify when that is until results become evident.

I will add this to the post.
Philip Fletcher said…
I have encountered many who seem to think that we believe our organization is perfect. But, the truth is Gods people have never been perfect. And those leading his people have not always acted correctly. The nation of Israel for some 1500 plus years were Gods people, all there priests and rulers were God's servants, yet even King David did not always follow the direction of the holy spirit, but he always accepted correction from Jehovah.
Think as well and keep in mind that the Apostle Peter almost started what could have been the biggest of apostasies.- Gal. 2:11-14, but Paul put an end to that. Still Peter is the one given the keys of the Kingdom. So servants of God still can make mistakes, but if lead by the holy spirit and God's word they will allow themselves to be corrected if necessary, thus we will continue to follow the spirit led faithful and discreet slave (servant). Thank You that was a nice article.