That winter of 96/97 I settled in with my mother, June, and sister, Sharon. Both knew I had serious conflicts. I had stopped attending meetings because I was tired of the slander of elders, their wives, and others. I ceased reporting field ministry for I saw no Scriptural justification. For someone like me to do this, it is tantamount to apostasy. There is no way someone like myself can just fade into the woodwork. Some were saying I was “floating from one congregation to another”; and, others, “he is trying to hide.” I had already been rejected by all but a few dear friends. My family treated me like a disfellowshipped person.
My mother remain close as mothers do. Gradually she asked me questions and trusted my answers. Privately she had accepted the Christian hope of heaven and had she lived I believed she may have partaken. Following hip surgery she began to fade. I knew she was going to die soon and I had determined I did not want to see her die alone. So, I remained around home and spent most of those days with her.
In a year’s time during my mother’s injury and illness not a single elder had visited her at home. She became embittered toward the local elders and their neglect. My mother died on Mother’s Day. I gave her graveside memorial and no elders attended. There were about a dozen people there, half of them “worldly.” This may be due in part because it was known I would speak a few words.
During my mother’s hospitalization an elder and his wife visited my mother. During the brief talk the elder said in the presence of the others that he and another elder wanted to talk to me about a letter I wrote the Society. I could not believe this man was broaching confidentiality in such a manner to say such in the hearing of my mother and his own wife. My mother had asked: “What was that all about?” This upset my mother and she was greatly concerned I would be disfellowshipped. I tried to assure her that would not happen for I had done nothing wrong, though I knew others had been excommunicated wrongly.
I had received what seems now to be the first official letter from a committee of three. It asked some generalized questions without being specific on any one point. It did use phrases I knew was from my confidential letter to the GB. I knew the GB had now broached this ecclesiastical confidentiality and possibly broke laws regarding my copyright as a professional writer. The committee letter said I could respond in writing. This I did asking several questions. I never received a response to this letter. I truly thought the matter ended. Little did I know.
I had learned through my sister that some elders had approached her with questions in which she defended me against their suggestions. This was later to include a circuit overseer. One elder had said to my sister: “I do not like doing this. It is wrong. But, I have to because there is a lot of pressure from above.” She had told him she did not know anything about what her brother’s disagreements with the Society were. She asked: “Other brothers openingly express their disagreements with the Society, so why should my brother be separated out for special treatment when he doesn’t express himself.”
My sister received phone calls from elders saying they had heard I had already been disfellowshipped. She assured them this was not true. My mother had been approached by elders and the circuit overseer in the supermarket stating similar things. My mother had also received calls from others telling her they had heard the rumor I had been disfellowshipped. She assured them I had done nothing for which I should be disfellowshipped. I believed and knew this to be true. There were so many rumors circulating that I had been disfellowshipped for apostasy I wrote the GB with a simple request: Had I been disfellowshipped without knowing it? All I asked was for a kind acknowledgment whether as of that date I was excommunicated. I never received a response to this request.
Next I was to receive a letter from another committee in Hemet stating they had been appointed to look into charges that two ministerial servants had “raped” my daughter. This was a letter with a warm and loving tone. I responded to the committee in writing including the names and locations of the JW “bastards” who violated my teenage daughter. The letter had asked if I had reported this to law enforcement. I wrote I had not because I did not know I was allowed to do such a thing. That is what I had wanted to do, but I was told by the elders not to do it since it would “bring reproach on the organization.” This is a common warning which causes much “bad news” to go unreported. “You would not expose your own mother,” JWs are told.
It is impossible to reason with a self-righteous man or organization for they will never acknowledge a short-coming. The self-righteous constantly paint themselves with pseudo white-wash which will not allow the real picture to materialize. Such religious leaders are as the Nazarene describes:
‘The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the seat of Moses.128
|128||SEAT OF MOSES. Can there be any question the GB has the power of a Moses which claims to be the only “channel” by which God speaks to mankind. All other religions are false and will be destroyed. Moses delivered 600 laws to Israel. There are over 1,000 procedures and policies in the Branch publication alone. Who can count the number of rules and “principles” listed in the Watchtower and other publications over the years. They are uncountable.|
Therefore all the things they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say but do not perform.129 They bind up heavy loads130
|129||DO NOT PERFORM. What is the single most important “do” for a JW? It is door-to-door preaching. There is much encouragement (and, pressure) to do this ten hours per month. Yet, neither the Pastor or the Judge went from house to house. The truth is most of the GB seldom go from door to door. Jesus commanded his apostles to “make disciples.” (Matthew 28:19) Putting all the GB together who have ever served in that capacity, how many “disciples” have they personally made? How many have they “brought in the truth”?|
|130||HEAVY LOADS. Many JWs would admit these “heavy loads” and yet many of the GB do not regularly attend all the meetings. Some are seldom seen at a congregation book study. What they would demand of regular publishers, elders, and pioneers, they are not able to deliver themselves.|
and put them upon the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing
to budge them with their finger. ... They like the most prominent place at evening meals and the front seats in the synagogues.131 ... But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers. ... Neither be called 'leaders,' for your Leader is one, the Christ.132 But the greatest one among you must be your minister. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. ... Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut up the kingdom133 of the heavens before men. ...
|131||PROMINENT. Who could deny the extreme prominence among the GB? They do sit at the head of tables and anyone who dared sit next to them without invitation would be dressed down curtly.|
|132||LEADERS. How can one be a member of a “governing body” without being a “leader”? If one could be excommunicated for just holding a thought at variance with the GB spoken on only a couple of occasions among private confidants, how could one argue these are not “leaders” and “teachers” of the most awesome sort.|
|133||SHUT UP THE KINGDOM. Has the GB “shut up the kingdom of heaven” to over 20,000,000 persons presently or formerly associated with the WBTS by redirecting interest to a false hope of surviving the Great Tribulation in the flesh and living on earth forever? A doctrine which cannot be supported by Scripture.|
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you traverse sea and dry land to make one proselyte,134 and when he becomes one you make him a subject for Ge·hen'na twice as much so as yourselves. ... Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but you have disregarded the weightier matters135 of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was binding to do,
|134||ONE PROSELYTE. Millions of dollars are spent in the campaign to convert hundreds of thousands in 230 countries. On the basis of the principle at Luke 21:8 (NJB) are innocent people joining a pseudo-anointed organization preaching false prophecies?|
|135||DISREGARD WEIGHTIER MATTERS. Millions are spent to propagate JW doctrine but local elders discourage charity to widows and orphans who are unable to attend meetings.|
yet not to disregard the other things. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel! ... Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
because you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of plunder136 and immoderateness.137 Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside of it also may become clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men's bones and of every sort of uncleanness. In that way you also, outwardly indeed,
|136||FULL OF PLUNDER. What is the gigantic value of the WBTS in just real estate alone? Poor people around the world contribute their pesos, pesetas, rubles, marks and yen to continue feeding the JW money pit. How many widows willed their estates to the Society rather than give it to their own children?|
|137||IMMODERATENESS. Why are there so many jokes and stories about a Bethelite’s ability to hold his liquor? Do GB members leave large liquor bills after a Branch visit? Do members of the Writing Department have substantial liquor cabinets in their high-rise Manhattan-view apartments?|
appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.’
(Matthew 24:6, 8, 10-13, 15, 23, 24, 26-28 NWT)
Another verse we found ourselves reading was Jeremiah 9:4-9: ‘Guard yourselves each one against his own companion, and put your trust in no brother at all. For even every brother would positively supplant, and every companion himself would walk around as a mere slanderer, and they keep trifling each one with his companion; and they speak no truth at all. They have taught their tongue to speak falsehood. They have tired themselves out merely in doing wrong. Your sitting is in the midst of deception. Through deception they have refused to know me," is the utterance of Jehovah. Therefore this is what Jehovah of armies has said: "Here I am smelting them, and I have to examine them, because how otherwise shall I act on account of the daughter of my people? Their tongue is a slaughtering arrow. Deception is what it has spoken. With his mouth, peace is what [a person] keeps speaking with his own companion; but within himself he sets his ambush. Because of these things should I not hold an accounting with them?" is the utterance of Jehovah.’
I began to write this work “Messianic Confessions” as a JW not disfellowshipped though “inactive” toward the end of August 1997. This date today is September 11, 1997, exactly to the day, 39 years after I first became a “messiah” or “one of the anointed.”
Last week I received a phone call from a judicial committee informing me they had agreed to disfellowshipped me for “apostasy.” I asked how they had reached their decision. They replied there were witnesses to my teaching doctrines not in agreement with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I asked who these “witnesses” were. They refused to tell me. They asked if I would “appeal” their decision and informed me I had seven days in which to do this. I thought, this is a holiday weekend with the mails closed over three days, therefore I really had four days or less.
I was greatly distressed by this event. It is not possible to live among a group of people for almost 43 years and not have many conflicting emotions all working at once. I immediately prepared an “appeal” letter. Not trusting these men anymore for reasons stated in the letter, I sent copies of the letter to the GB and elders on the other committee which had contacted me. This is the letter:
250 D South Lyon Ave, Suite 521
Hemet, CA 92543 USA
c/o West Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses
c/o John Mendoza, Secretary
Congregation Committee (Richard Thompson, PO; Christopher Ibbeson, SO)
1530 Santa Susana Drive
Hemet, CA 92543 USA
Dear Brothers: RE: appeal
I have just received a phone call from John O’Conner stating “after reviewing matters the charge of apostasy has a basis.” I only learned after a few minutes that this was a “conference call” without ever being informed of this. Only after I heard an echo to the call and asked if others were listening in on this without telling me. I told him I thought it was against the law in the State of California to have a phone conversation with others listening without informing the person. I did not ask if they were recording this, but I suspect they did.
I then asked how they reached such a decision charging me with “apostasy.” I was told there were witnesses accusing me of teaching matters not in harmony with the Society. I asked who these “witnesses” were? I was told I had opportunity to meet them but declined. I asked when I had such an opportunity. I was read a letter sent to me which asked for a meeting to review matters about talk circulating which caused me some dismay. Portions of this letter were read to me.
I asked where did that letter ever state I was being accused of “apostasy” and indicating there were witnesses to such a charge? I explained the reasons I did not meet were, a) I did not understand such a serious matter was at hand; and, b) I had already had written my reasons for not meeting because I no longer trusted these men. I had reported that one of their members had violated confidentiality by stating to a publisher: “Mark Miller has done something wrong and is trying to hide it.”
I mentioned this to the phonic audience and they denied this. I told them they could deny it but it did not change the fact that I did not trust them. I said this conversation does not increase my trust, for they have made a decision without my presence based on witnesses unknown to me.
I asked him to tell me the name of a single person who had brought such a charge. They refused to do this. The subject of a confidential letter I had written to the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses was brought up and certain phrases were read to me. I did not have this letter in front of me.
I told them I had written such a confidential letter to the Governing Body some years ago but it had been my understanding that anything I wrote was to be kept among the anointed only. I had told the GB that if this could not be respected, they should just trash any letter I wrote. They seemed to have accepted this confidence without ever stating otherwise. I was under the impression that my heart-felt confessions and worries would be kept private within the “body of Christ.”
I was asked a few doctrinal points about 1914, the “one hope” (Ep 4.4), and one or two other points which escape me now. I felt very much that I was facing a telephonic inquisition. I was getting angry because “star-chamber” tactics were being used similar to those during the Inquisition. How could I be judged and sentenced without knowing either the charge or who the witnesses were. This is a violation of every civilized law of most nations on earth, save in countries where the Witnesses are persecuted, like Rwanda. Were these men behaving like such persecutors?
I am reminded of Paul’s own defense: ‘ ... it is not Roman procedure to hand any man over as a favor before the accused man meets his accusers face to face and gets a chance to speak in his defense concerning the complaint.’ (Ac 25.16 NWT) When was I ever told there was a charge against me and then had such a fair opportunity to, as the Jewish lawyer Paul puts it, ‘ ... before the accused man meets his accusers face to face and gets a chance to speak in his defense concerning the complaint.’ What Roman law permitted I have been denied by JW elders. I have this date been judged and sentenced without knowing the “complaint” and without meeting “accusers face to face.” Is JW law less than Roman?
Over what am I being “judged”? Is it possible a religious court is trying me even as Paul was, as he puts it in his own defense: ‘Over the hope of resurrection of the dead I am being judged.’ (Ac 23.6; 24.21) Is it possible that the court condemning me believes, ‘the resurrection has already occurred’? (2 Tm 2.18) While Paul taught: ‘For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive. But each one in his own rank: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ in his presence.’ (1 Co 15.22, 23 NW) And, further, Paul believed: ‘The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel's voice and with God's trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first. Afterward we the living who are surviving will, together with them (at the same time), be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air.’ (1 Th 4.16, 17 NW) Was it possible, I wondered, if I could be accused of “apostasy” for agreeing with Paul, another man condemned without witnesses?
I told these accusers listening in conference that I could not believe such a thing was happening. I was evidently being accused based on a private and confidential letter written to the GB in all heart-felt earnestness, believing it was something to be kept between me and my confessors, that priesthood I believed represented Jehovah. I told my unseen and secret listeners that I would appeal my case for I did not trust these men. For my own evidence was they had broached ecclesiastical confidentiality, as had, evidently, the Governing Body itself.
I was asked who had told me that one of them had said, “Mark Miller has done something wrong and is trying to hide it,” but I felt that if I divulged that, such a person would be threatened by my own lack of confidentiality, something completely absent in this matter. This accusation had been made months before, showing such men had already judged me, as had a score of others, including elders, throughout southern California, Spain, and Holland.
Not two months after I returned from pioneering in Spain a rumor was started which involved a variety of false charges, including: child abuse, adultery, and apostasy. I know that some of this was spread by elders. Where did it start? It is possible it was my own wife and her family for I now know that all of these used the word “apostasy” in their conversations with others. This spread like wild-fire and when it came back to me I talked to different elders, privately, and did, indeed, tell them there were Scriptural matters of deep concern and I had expressed these only to the Governing Body. I refused to discuss these with anyone, even though certain ones, as they had in the past, asked me a variety of questions. These would confirm that I never, in Spain, or in America, ever directed anyone elsewhere but to the publications.
Why was I not told that I was being accused of these very things spreading around southern California, much of it by the mouth of JW elders? Why was I not told to come to a meeting where these charges of “apostasy” would be discussed? Why was I not told that I could bring my own witnesses to defend me?
Why was I now gun-shy of certain types of elders I had served with over the years? I had endured in the last ten years a variety of accusations by men accusing me of “apostasy” without the slightest foundation. Why do men even use such a challenge as “apostasy”? It is because they cannot fault my life as a Christian in one single matter. I felt like Daniel, regarding whom it was admitted, ’We shall find in this Daniel no pretext at all.’ (Dn 6.5) It is one thing to have a legitimate charge against a man, supported by witnesses, where he has shown himself a rebellious apostate trying to harm his fellows. It is another to accuse and condemn by the slander-mill among JWs.
I had experienced such a charge of “apostasy” brought against me in private communications during an unrelated committee meeting in Idyllwild, when one of the elders charged me with such before two publishers in a completely unrelated case. These two informed me of this and I knew there were hounds loose seeking my injury.
I had already experienced the devastation of my 14 year old daughter being raped by two JW ministerial servants. I had discovered there was a sex-ring in Idyllwild living double lives who had misled and seduced my own daughter. My confidence in elders, ministerial servants, and JW youths was badly damaged. I returned from Spain – and the presiding elder there at the time could testify of my innocence – to more gossip and slander from elders and others. Some of this was delivered from the platform of a Kingdom Hall witnessed by some related to me.
A Gilead graduate had heard these same rumors in Holland that I had been disfellowshipped for apostasy (after I had spoken to him on a visit to this country and discussed only the fact that I had some questions bothering me) – which I had not discussed with others – and he was very angry when he later found out the accusation going around was not true. I had also gone to a long friend but without discussing with him my own concerns.
I began to ponder this subject of “apostasy” and what was it really? I made a word search of this word-group “apostasy” and discovered some interesting things: Though Paul and Job were accused of it, it is never mentioned as a disfellowshipping offense anywhere. The word group occurs mainly in the Book of Job and generally as an accusation against that godly man. (Jb 8.13; 13.16; 15.34; 17.8; 20.5; 27.8; 34.30; 36.13) I felt in good company.
I had never “worked at apostasy” or “spoke against Jehovah what is wayward.” (Is 32.6: ‘The senseless one himself will speak mere senselessness, and his very heart will work at what is hurtful, to work at apostasy and to speak against Jehovah what is wayward.’)
I had never tried to “lead into apostasy by means of smooth words.” (Daniel 11:32: ‘And those who are acting wickedly against [the] covenant, he will lead into apostasy by means of smooth words.’
Paul himself had been accused of “apostasy”: ‘But they have heard it rumored about you that you have been teaching all the Jews among the nations an apostasy from Moses, telling them neither to circumcise their children nor to walk in the [solemn] customs.’ (Ac 21.21) I had tried to overlook those mistaken accusations by weak ones that I was an apostate by thinking that Paul’s own fellow “witnesses of Jehovah” had accused him.
I had learned early in my life in the Truth that some will resort to such a charge of “apostasy” when no other charge can be brought. I had first been accused of this in 1958 in Brownwood, Texas – and my wife is a witness – when a congregation servant told an audience that I was “demonized” and part of the “evil servant.” I was only 19 years old, and three years in the Truth. I suppose a man publicly accused of such a thing might develop a certain hesitation to any further false charges.
The word “apostasy” would be used in later congregations: Newport Beach and Idyllwild. But, in Newport Beach, such elders also suggested Colin Quankenbush and the Branch overseer of Sweden might just possibly be apostates. This was also a charge brought about in Carlsbad by certain elders against the Service Desk itself!
Paul foretold an “apostasy”: ‘He is set in opposition and lifts himself up over everyone who is called "god" or an object of reverence, so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god.’ (2 Th 2.4) But, I could think of no occasions where I ever “lifted myself up over anyone called ‘god’” or ever “showed myself to be a god.” I began to wonder who would “sit down in the Temple of The God, publicly showing themselves to be a god”?
Any one who knows me throughout 42 years in the Truth (as a full-time pioneer for 20 years; presiding elder in ten congregations; serving in foreign, unassigned, and isolated groups for a dozen years; having devoted time and money to aid the GB in the photography department; having taken our Lord’s instructions to the “little flock” literally: ‘Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom. Sell the things belonging to you and give gifts of mercy.’ – Lk 12.32, 33) is well-aware that I sacrificed my life in the service of the “faithful and discreet slave” with whom I shared the same hope. I had never done what Proverbs 11.9 warns: ‘By [his] mouth the one who is an apostate brings his fellowman to ruin, but by knowledge are the righteous rescued.’ Where had I ever “brought my fellow to ruin.” But, I knew other JW elders had done this over the years. There is not a single, living, breathing JW soul, who can say I ever directed them any where but to the Society.
I had never “spoken senselessness” as Isaiah 9.17 predicted: ‘apostates and evildoers and every mouth is speaking senselessness.’ I was not the one “speaking senselessness.” It was other elders and their wives who were spreading slander about me over three years ago. Some actually claimed to have heard the announcement of me being disfellowshipped for “apostasy”! One elder admitted to two witnesses that he had heard the rumor and repeated it himself.
I noticed in my consideration of this subject of “apostasy” that Paul, nor any other Christian writer, ever listed it as a disfellowshipping offense. Rather, Paul did write: ‘The Christ exists divided.’ And, ‘I hear divisions exist among you; and in some measure I believe it. For there must also be (heresies) among you, that the persons approved may also become manifest among you.’ (1 Co 1.13; 11.18, 19) I thought this seemed to indicate that “heresies” were permitted “among (the Corinthians)” that the “approved may become manifest.”
Regarding “apostasy” I realized that Moses warned about those who would predict things that did not come true: ‘However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. And in case you should say in your heart: "How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?" when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. you must not get frightened at him.' (De 18.20-22) I knew that I had in fact participated in such an error regarding 1975; but I was assured that this was more an example of Proverbs 4.18: ‘The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.’ Was I being accused of “apostasy” because I had shared in this when I was congregation servant of the River and Sunflower congregations in Santa Ana? How far back were these accusers going in the accusations against me?
On this subject of “apostasy” I wondered why I was being accused of privately suggesting some thoughts directly to my anointed brothers in Brooklyn Bethel when other brothers often discussed such matters among themselves. For example, a senior brother in the Writing Department had told me when I was serving there: “If some over heard us they would think we in the Writing Department were apostates.” I knew this brother had been accused of things when he gave a talk in San Diego. I knew he had been accused of deviating from the Society by certain elders in Carlsbad, Oceanside, and Vista. I know this because they had asked me to read a transcript of his talk and then solicited my opinions. I was later to relate this to the accused brother on the Tenth Floor itself. I had thought there was nothing at all wrong with his talk. Was I now being accused of “apostasy” because I sided with this beloved brother in the Writing Department?
I wondered further if I could be charged with “apostasy” for another matter. In 1993 when my daughter had been “raped” by JW “deacons” and I was being secretly and cowardly accused of apostasy in Idyllwild, California, I called Brooklyn Bethel and spoke for nearly an hour with a member of the Art Department and a member of the Writing Department. They strongly encouraged me with Scriptures and citations of The Watchtower that I should not step aside as an elder and conductor of The Watchtower study. I took their advice.
However, later I was called to a meeting with three elders in Idyllwild. Before introductions, or anything else, within seconds of sitting down, I was told: “By the way, your friends at Bethel deny ever talking to you.” I was absolutely and complete shocked that a friend of 20 years and a friend I dearly loved in the Writing Department could deny – lie – that about an hour telephone conversation. The Presiding Overseer stated the purpose of the meeting and how they had been directed to meet with me in the spirit of Galatians 6.1. He read the Society’s letter, but it said “two with spiritual qualifications” at which I asked why there were three in the room. “Three smells of a judicial committee,” I said, continuing: “Since the Society said ‘two’ I would ask that one of you leave the room.” It was explained to me that the new brother (the third) was in the room “to gain experience.” I told them if one of them did not leave the room, I would not meet with them and would rather respect the Society’s directions. One among them had already accused me before two publishers within a judicial setting of “apostasy.” They refused to follow the very direction of the Society and so I left. How could I expect a fair judgment form men who had already condemned me by the accusation of “apostasy”?
I later stepped down as an elder and went to serve where there was a need in Anza. My wife was near a nervous breakdown, just as she had been 35 years before when we were newly married and fresh pioneers in Texas. I had not wanted to leave, but stick it out and fight the matter. I and other servants in the congregation had submitted written explanations to the District Overseer, Brother Howard, whom we greatly respected. My wife was genuine in her appeal for us to “get out of Idyllwild.” Am I being accused of “apostasy” because of these events in Idyllwild?
Or, when I was temporarily in San Jacinto congregation, before going to Spain, was I being accused of some “apostasy” during this period. Who in San Jacinto or Hemet, where there were long lime friends from when I first came into the Truth in 1955, were accusing me of “apostasy”? I had visited an anointed sister, Ruth Fisher, who had helped me very much as a young Christian. Was there something I had said there in the presence of these who live right next to the Kingdom Hall? Was Sister DuBerry and her family accusing me of “apostasy” when I met with them and a family member who had some questions?
There were those in Hemet that I had studied with years ago, one an elder now. Was Brother Perrin and his family charging me secretly with “apostasy”? Were the Merrill sisters, with whom I had met and discussed various scriptural subjects accusing me of “apostasy”?
Had that most respected member of the anointed, Brother Sargent, the senior member of the “faithful and discreet slave” until his death at near 100, accused me of apostasy because of our private discussions of Fred Franz’s writings? Even after he died, and I quietly attended his memorial with a thousand others at Mira Loma, there were those who came up to me in tears, stating they had heard I had been disfellowshipped. I assured them I had not and any that had said so were liars.
Was Brother Belleza, who expressed his feelings that I would one day be a member of the Governing Body (after I returned from Spain), now accusing me of “apostasy”? He had discussed privately his feelings about how the Society had let him and other traveling overseers down when they no longer could so serve. I had said to him in a meeting of the elders, to assure him: “The “faithful and discreet slave class” is not here to be serve, but to serve.” And, therefore, I was confident this beloved circuit overseer would be looked after, as he was, in fact. But, one of the elders (the same who had accused me of apostasy to publishers) used this statement and went to others, behind my back, without any use of the principle of Matthew 18, and slyly suggesting I was somehow opposed to the Society. ‘Who would be witnesses against me?’ I worried.
‘Was it the brothers in Holland?’ I wondered. I had an episode with an anointed sister who later disassociated herself. But, I had gone directly to one of the elders, a Gilead Graduate, and cautioned him about the situation. Even when this same sister sent me materials in the mail, I informed the elder in Holland. Was this old friend, whom I had encouraged to pioneer, and who had thanked me for this lone encouragement, now accusing me of apostasy? He had heard such rumors of my being disfellowshipped for apostasy in 1996 and expressed such indignation over this when he met with former Bible students of his. He assured these friends that he would contact me and help encourage me through all of this. He never did.
I worried that it was something I had done in Spain when I served as a pioneer and elder in the foreign language territories. Had I said something to those brothers who trusted in me to answer their questions? I wrote the presiding elder of the English Group in Mojocar, Spain, whether I had ever said something that would seem “apostate.” He assured me I had not. He said when he talked with Brother Bellezza on the telephone this former circuit overseer had said “there were problems in Idyllwild but there were not brother Miller’s, rather, the local elders.”
This brother knew that he had approached me on many delicate questions and I had always referred him back to the publications. I had told him that if there were any matters of a sensitive nature I would only discuss them with Brooklyn, and I suggested the same to him. I had heard certain British elders criticize various points in the Tower, but I learned it was just their natures and they meant no real harm. I never accused them of apostasy because they expressed a view different from the Society.
Then, I thought, did Brother Albert Schroeder himself accuse me of apostasy because of a conversation we had at the Kingdom Ministry School in Pittsburgh. We had a discussion about the temple and the 144,000 and he had told the congregation servants that he full number of the 144,000 had been gathered by 1918 because the Lord Adonay could not “come to an incomplete Temple.” This was not in harmony with what had been published already and I had broached a question with him regarding it. He did not seem to take this well, though he treated me kindly, even appointing me in place of him over a matter.
Finally, was it my own wife who had accused me of “apostasy”? We were as close as any married couple could be. But, I had always been careful in confidential matters, to which she can testify, and only on rare occasion discussed a matter close to my heart on Biblical questions which might be viewed at variance with the current publications.
I was later to discover that my own wife had suggested “apostasy” to others and then members of my own family began to spread this at assemblies and in congregation meetings. An elder with whom I had studied called me regarding this accusation. He told me my daughter-in-law had made this accusation against me. He further stated he had been approached by another elder in the San Clemente area who had repeated the same. To be fair I must mention that my daughter-in-law later called me about this rumor that she had said something. She made it clear, it was not her, but the elder who had brought the accusation. She further stated she had heard I was dead. I could only quote Mark Twain: “The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
My wife’s family, particularly her brothers and nephews who were elders, all repeated to others private matters, and suggested I was an “apostate.” This, when I had directly refrained from discussing any question I had with my brother- in-laws in Yucca Valley and Anza. These, and two nephews who were elders in Palm Desert and Ramona, had called my son, not speaking to me, but suggesting I was an “apostate.” I must, though I do not want to believe it, think this accusation comes from my own wife. One of these elders over two years ago had told a sister in his congregation in Palm Desert: “Mark Miller is an apostate.” He had actually called the Society and asked them “what they were going to do about Mark Miller.” They said they were not going “to do anything about Mark MiIller.” What went wrong?
My wife is the one who wrote me and described me as a “rock like El Capitan in Yosemite who had withstood elders stomping on me without giving up.” Perhaps, I did give up. My last resort was the GB themselves.
I had written to them often over the years, but particularly from Spain. I submitted hundreds of thousands of words to different ones in the Writing Department, who will remain unnamed to protect them, none of this at variance with what was already published. I gave experiences of working Russian freighters in Spain and among the Spanish and British in Mojacar. I had made it clear, thinking I was dealing with only the anointed, that everything I wrote was only for “the Body of Christ” for I never wanted anything to leak to the “other sheep.” I had made it very plain that if this could not be respected then throw everything into file 13. I only assumed this confidentiality was being respected as the very men I viewed as “priests.”
It comes as a major shock that this confidentiality was not respected but copies of my private letters have been sent to “other sheep,” the very ones I did not want to read this material. Out of desperation, I asked them to “respond” in any manner within two months. I was under the impression that one of the anointed, a fellow among “the faithful and discreet slave,” could express his views without fear this would spill over into the Great Crowd itself.
I received no answer what so ever. Later, when the rumors of my having already been disfellowshiped in 1995, I wrote begging them to tell me if I had somehow been disfellowshipped without my knowing it. They again did not answer me.
I was to receive a letter, over a year ago, I think, from some elders in Hemet who asked for my response in writing. I did so, but never heard from them again. I thought the matter was over. Evidently, some elders and a circuit overseer tried to approach my sister regarding all of this. Even here I was concerned about my mother who was ill. We had talked about this, and I tried all that I could to keep her out of any unpleasantness. Of course, she died Mother’s Day, and I was able to keep my promises to her. My sister only knew I had some “disagreement” with Brooklyn, but surely did not know anything about. She lives with me and she would know whether I was an “apostate” for she knows I have never, never, made a single effort to influence her in any way.
So, am I guilty of “apostasy”? If apostasy is an overt attempt to develop a following critical of Jehovah’s Witnesses, No! For no one can step forward as a witness that I tried to “apostasize” them. If such exist, I would ask, in all judicial fairness, to submit their names to me. Even in a worldly court and ‘men looked down upon in the congregation,’ legal matters would require the accuser to submit the names of accusers or witnesses before the trial in a declaration. Are JW elders any less than these ‘men looked down upon in the congregation.’? (1 Co 6.4) If any JW attorney were in a court of law and evidence or witnesses were presented who had not previously been declared, he would object strenuously. Am I to be treated less? Star-Chamber Courts were outlawed by civilized men centuries ago by the Magna Carta. Are JWs less than “the (worldly) men they look down upon” and from whom they seek justice around the world? Are men who have argued before the Supreme Courts of nations around the world, not going to provide a declaration of witnesses and evidence before even bringing an accusation against someone innocent? Are these lawyers in Brooklyn aiding you? If so, do I need an attorney to find justice?
One last word on this matter of “apostasy.” I would direct each one of you “other sheep” to your heavy responsibility in virtue of the Lord’s parable of the sheep and the goats. (Mt 25.31-46) Do I need to remind you of these august words: ‘Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Mt 25.40) If you are in error, you put yourselves under extreme penalty. May I be allowed to quote the Watchtower’s Bible, the Diaglott at Matthew 5.22: ‘But I say to you, That every one BEING ANGRY with his BROTHER shall be amenable to the JUDGES: and whoever shall say to his BROTHER, Fool! will be subject to the HIGH COUNCIL: but whoever shall say Apostate wretch! will be obnoxious to the BURNING OF GEHENNA.’ I say this only out of extreme concern for you “other sheep.” Should any involved, any who had uttered the word “apostate” in the same breath with my name, make an error in judgment, it would be serious indeed. Having already erred in your whole handing of this affair, I would suggest not compounding your sin with the charge of “Apostasy.” What is at stake here is Gehenna if you err in the treatment of one of the Lord’s brothers, even the least one.
You may feel I have been long in my remarks, but whose life is at stake?
I would beg you brothers considering my appeal be as big as “(worldly) men looked down upon,” and simply state to me in writing: a) the charge against me; and, b) a list of those proposed “witnesses”; and, c) some assurance I may bring my own witnesses to be present throughout the “trial.” Private trials are a contradiction to a people who live in America, or any other freedom loving nation. As even worldly courts provide a transcript of the trial as well as witnesses to the entire affair, will this fairness be extended to me? Do I need a lawyer, since I have already been defamed, before this date, that is, before I was accused and sentenced, by representatives of the Society?
Please do not attempt to call me on the phone. Present every remark in writing as any “worldly” court would do. Surely you cannot expect constitutional treatment by the courts and deny them to me? Are you better or less than those ‘men looked down upon in the congregation’?
Because of the way I have been treated in the past, and based on my own experience with some committees, I am sending copies of this letter to others to make sure nothing takes place in secret behind closed doors, and to assure justice is done. Those names who receive a “cc” are listed below. However, as a professional writer I put you on notice that this is copyrighted material and I so declare with my name.
Now, if you wish to write me and ask me what I believe, I will answer in the spirit of 2 Corinthians 4.12, ‘I believe and so I speak.’ I will answer you in those words of Martin Luther,138 considered by Carlyle “the greatest moment in the modern history of man”:
|138||LUTHER. The Society quotes these words with praise in the book Mankind’s Search for God: “Later that year, Luther was summoned to the diet, or assembly, at Worms. He was tried by the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles V, a staunch Catholic, as well as by the six electors of the German states, and other leaders and dignitaries, religious and secular. When pressed once again to recant, Luther made his famous statement: "Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason . . . , I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen." (page 316-7, par 23)|
“Since your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without distinctions. ... Unless I am convicted by the testimony of Sacred Scripture or by evident reason (I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other), my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against my conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.” (Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Vol VI, “The Reformation,” page 361) The only difference between me and Luther is that I have nothing to recant. No one has ever asked me what I believed in order to establish any kind of “apostasy.” Nor, have I been given the names of my accusers or my judges. Would you kindly have asked me to come before you and answer various questions, I would have been glad to do so. I have nothing to fear. (De 18.20-23) You could ask me anything regarding my “hope” and I pray I would answer in that spirit which holds Christ sacred within the heart. (1 Pe 3.15)
But, let me ask in conclusion: when did I actually become an “apostate”? If someone committed adultery or fornication would you let them know when they did the act for which they are going to be disfellowshipped? So, may I ask in all innocence and guilelessness: when did I commit “apostasy”? Was it because I sent a confidential letter to the Governing Body? Was it because I “thought” something at variance with the Society and then expressed this in private to them? Is it because I discussed these subjects with another? Who are they?
I pray to Jehovah for guidance in your behalf that you come to say as did Pilate: ‘I find no fault in him.’ (Jn 19.4)
I remain your brother in Christ,
Mark Miller ©1997. All rights reserved.
cc: Watchtower GB; John Mendoza; Richard Thompson; Christopher Ibbeson
PS: I have tried throughout my life to never stumble anyone. My wife knows this and so does my sister. Throughout my life, and particularly in the last three years I have made every attempt not to in any way discourage, mislead, deceive, or shatter the faith of any JW. I hold each one as my dear brother and sister. I have been invited to a “get-together” tomorrow and out of respect for you and those expecting me, I will decline, so that I never take advantage of any one. I pray those thousands among JWs who know me, and those hundreds I brought “into the truth,” see in me that same spirit of the Messiah: ‘No crushed reed will he break; and as for a dim flaxen wick, he will not extinguish it. In trueness he will bring forth justice. He will not grow dim nor be crushed until he sets justice in the earth itself; and for his law the islands themselves will keep waiting.’ (Is 52.3, 4)
About this time the Friends of the Nazarene were getting on the Internet. Information and news was being made available to more and more interested persons by these electronic means as well as normal correspondence channels. I informed those closest to me regarding these latest events and several people, including an elder and two of the anointed who came to my assistance.
One particular anointed elder, now 75 years old, would come to visit me from time to time as I did him. We have private discussions of certain Biblical questions, though these were largely his. Years ago he had been disfellowshipped for apostasy. The Society appointed me to call on him regarding a letter he had written to Bethel. Following my own response back to Brooklyn, his disfellowshipping was reversed. He remembers my honest efforts on his behalf. He continues to encourage me to return to meetings, but I have refrained from revealing anything written in this book. He is the one who revealed to me that one of the elders on the committee judging my case had revealed to him: “Mark Miller has done something wrong and is trying to hide it.” He recently told me they tried to get him sign a paper claiming I had taught him teachings inconsistent with JWs.
Present circumstances. This brings matters up to the current date. It might be good to know how things stand in various areas. First, when persons begin to approach the end of their lives they begin to give some thought to “what if.” The most important thing I would like to do over is my relationship with my wife and children.
My wife. I have not spoken to my wife in two years. I have written her a few letters and received no response to them. My wife is a most charming woman of great faith and loyalty. She was a regular pioneer when I last heard. She has some contact with our daughters but virtually none with our sons.
I have stated to my wife in writing that she is the finest woman I have ever known. I still believe that. I now believe our marriage was doomed from the beginning though we both gave it nearly 40 years of effort. I knew she was aggressive, domineering, a born leader. I should have never married a woman like that. This part is not her fault or mine. Failure was built into the relationship from the beginning. My second son, Dane, compared us to Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara.
The truth is, I still love my wife in the most important ways. I think of her daily. I have never stopped thinking about her. On the other hand, I know completely that I could never live with her again. I had once stated to others that if I had to make a choice between her and a bullet to my head, I would have no difficulty in what to choose. I was making her life most miserable, and the kindest, and most loving thing I could do, was end her misery. This I did by separation.
Had my wife had to endure the charges and slander of apostasy, and all those things which have befallen me during the last two years, it would have been even worse on her. I hope she finds a degree of happiness. She may be able to heal those emotional problems with my daughters.
Will I ever get divorced? It is doubtful, as the Nazarene taught his disciples should not divorce save on the grounds of adultery. I will not do this and I do not think my wife will. If she wanted a divorce she could obtain it. One never knows what life has in store.
My sister. I live with my sister, Sharon, at present in the mobile home left to us by our mother. She is a most caring Christian woman. How she will deal with all of this I do not know. We have little spiritual connection though I often show interest in all she does, she asks no questions of me. Not half a dozen sentences pass between us through the day. She surely sees how I labor at the laptop but makes no query about it all. She recently attended the Pioneer School and I daily demonstrated an interest in her studies.
I have in no way pressured my sister or tried to alter her views. I do believe, like my mother, that she will do well in the judgment because she automatically does those loving, kind, and charitable things the Nazarene taught.
My children. I have not spoken or seen three of my children in many years. I have written to them a couple times a year with no response. I have written of my grief and acknowledged my own failures, known and unknown. I have asked forgiveness but never received it. I do not blame them for this. I blame myself first. It was my own blind faith in JWs which caused them to fall into the same path. Children are so extremely vulnerable. One can make anything out of a child: from a nazi to a monk. It is the responsibility of parents to raise their children in the best way they understand. Unfortunately this was wrong in my case. Nothing will ever heal or correct my errors in this.
My oldest son, Shawn, and his family are “inactive” JWs who are very bitter about the whole matter. He has three children and an adopted daughter. He continues to be a good student of the Bible and meets with a circle of a half dozen friends from time to time to discuss Scriptural matters. He owns a successful carpet cleaning service. He and his family love water sports and have their own speed boat for water skiing. They live near a big lake in southern California. We occasionally get together. Recently I experienced my son’s first birthday party in 37 years. It was the first birthday I had witnessed since I was sixteen years old. This had a powerful affect on me. I had realized I did not know the birth date of any of my children! (Job 1:4, AMP, LB)
I have not spoken with my second son, Dane, since 1993 though I have written him as I explained above. He is divorced from his wife and I understand he has found a pleasant relationship with a Mormon girl. I also understand he is studying law and I am confident he will do well. He supports himself in part time work with a house cleaning service in Newport Beach. He has two children and I have not seen or heard from them in three years.
I have not spoken with my oldest daughter, April, for over 5 years. She lives in Maui with two children. I do not know what she is up to. I have written several letters with no response. I do know she has occasional contact with my wife. Her children were delightful when I knew them, but I have no idea how old they are now. Part of this is my own brain-damaged fault, and the rest is the lack of birthdays among JWs.
My youngest daughter, Sierra Skye, lives in Portland, Oregon. I have had no contact with her since 1993. She does remain in contact with my second son. I hold no animosity against her and would be willing to accept her no matter what she had become. We are all victims of our fathers and mothers and their fathers and mothers, back to Adam and Eve. (Romans 5:12) I understand she had attended college at one time. She was reported to be a fine debater and I believe this. She is very intelligent and surely will find a happy and successful life.
How had I failed as a parent? Expecting Armageddon before my children ever would finish high school, I made the error of not directing my children’s interests into those normal areas of other children. My children would all have been excellent in sports. Had I encouraged them to take up such an interest it would have marshaled their youthful energies and interests. Had I been able to show pride in their achievements that would have encouraged them greatly. My children are all intelligent. With the right encouragement they would all have succeeded in one area or another and could have gone on to get that education that modern students are deserving. I have no doubt my children would have been able to achieve scholarship help as I had. Had I encouraged the arts and music, this would have added to an over all balance in the molding of their lives.
Every parent must make decisions which will have long-lasting influences on their children. While many parents would not let religion or spirituality have any bearing in all of this child-rearing, I believe that is fatal. We were not a hypocritical family. We lived our religion in public and at home as best we could. I believe many hundreds of people thought we were the ideal couple and the ideal family. As it turns out we were not. My rightful decision as a parent to raise my children in the JW environment turned out to be my error. The fault is no one else’s. It is mine alone. I have asked my children’s forgiveness for this error.
It may be difficult to understand the depth of emotion involved in this recognition of my own error. Everyone (my wife, my children, my friends) looked to me as the JW scholar – the premier Bible student – who should have known error when he saw it. I did not. This illustrates the extreme danger in sectarian control. Intelligent people remove their normal suspicion which demands proof at some point in the JW instruction, and after becoming a part of the Society, there is that part of them which is like a bee in a bee colony.
Had I read 1 John 4:1 more carefully, I might have avoided my own error: ‘Beloved, do not believe every “inspiration”, rather examine the “inspirations” as to their source, if they really originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.’ Every Christian is authorized by this most august and original member of the First Century “governing body” to test, prove, or examine every prophetic statement.
Paul lauded those that checked him out: ‘So according to Paul's custom he went inside to them, and for three sabbaths he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving by references that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead. ... Now the latter were more noble-minded than those in Thes·sa·lo·ni'ca, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.’ (Acts 17:2, 3, 11 NWT) Both these pillars of the primitive Church encouraged an examination of what they taught. Why would the modern GB excommunicate me for doing what John and Paul counsel?
Let me explain this: JWs are packed with effective arguments against Christendom in general: Christendom’s bloody history and Christendom’s doctrines. It is very easy to show a person ignorant of the Bible that the Trinity is an historical error, that the soul dies and is not immortal, that God’s name is Jehovah. While these fundamentals may be true, what follows is not necessarily so: 1914 (or, 1975), the 144,000, the Great Crowd, the Last Days, blood transfusions, mindless loyalty to the GB. It is interesting, when one is “coming into the truth” every answer is addressed with the Bible; but once baptized if one continues to ask the wrong questions regarding these subjects I have just listed, it will lead to serious difficulty. After passing that invisible veil of primary doctrine, the only answer one begins to get is: we have to trust “the faithful and discreet slave.”
Additionally, when one is “coming into the truth” there is a lot of personal interest shown at the Kingdom Hall, the assemblies, and in some cases an enjoyable degree of hospitality. There is praise for the first talk given and congratulations as “progress” is made up the JW corporate ladder. But after a couple years “in the truth” this changes seriously. The former high degree of interest in you settles down to a cliquish affair in which there may be a limited circle of friends. Many find themselves alone even at the Kingdom Hall. Alone after they return home. Alone in the field service. One Bible student of mine died at home and no one discovered his body for nearly a month.
What responsibility befalls JWs? This raises that interesting question. I had determined to cease and desist that judgmental attitude of the JWs. They judge everyone outside and are most often very judgmental among themselves. The words of the Nazarene are very embedded in my mind regarding this matter:
‘I have come as a light into the world, in order that everyone putting faith in me may not remain in the darkness. But if anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I came, not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that disregards me and does not receive my sayings has one to judge him. The word that I have spoken is what will judge him in the last day.’ (John 12:46-48) JWs judge the world and one another.
How will all these 12,000,000 JWs and their associates be viewed? I found a comforting answer in the words of the Nazarene at Luke chapter 12. This parable lists four types of disciples: ‘”You also, keep ready, because at an hour that you do not think likely the Son of man is coming." Then Peter said: "Lord, are you saying this illustration to us or also to all?"
One: the faithful slave. ‘And the Lord said: "Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time? Happy is that slave, if his master on arriving finds him doing so! I tell you truthfully, He will appoint him over all his belongings.’
Two: the evil slave. ‘But if ever that slave should say in his heart, 'My master delays coming,' and should start to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day that he is not expecting [him] and in an hour that he does not know, and he will punish him with the greatest severity and assign him a part with the unfaithful ones.’
Three: the unprepared slave. ‘Then that slave that understood the will of his master but did not get ready or do in line with his will be beaten with many strokes.’
Four: the ignorant slave. ‘But the one that did not understand and so did things deserving of strokes will be beaten with few. Indeed, everyone to whom much was given, much will be demanded of him; and the one whom people put in charge of much, they will demand more than usual of him.’ (Luke 12:40-48)
The Nazarene’s parable included four types of “slaves.” I note the last one who did not know what the Master ordered was not assigned a judgment like the second slave, but was to be disciplined with a few strokes. This seemed very merciful to me. If the vast majority of JWs are viewed as those ignorant slaves, but still slaves in the Master’s household, it will fall to their charity toward others, something the Master highly stressed. This would mean 5,000,000 active JWs would rise in the parousia-Judgment with all other Christians throughout history and be judged, not on their doctrine, but on their love for their neighbor. It is obvious that the multitudes of Christians throughout two thousand years have varied greatly in their personal beliefs and understandings of the Scriptures. A large proportion have not even possessed a Bible! Therefore, they could not be judged on doctrinal matters but on their conduct toward others.
Let us suppose a sincere Trinitarian was correct in his doctrinal views, but roasted Unitarians alive over a spit. How would the Nazarene judge this person? I suspect the answer is obvious. On the other hand, suppose a JW was in error on some doctrinal point, but was a decent human being in his daily association with others. On the other hand, a JW who thought he had a knowledge of pristine truth, but was a general “theocratic139 jerk”140 in his daily life, could not expect a favorable judgment if he failed in human decency. Exactly the point of Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats. (Matthew 25:31-46)
|139||THEOCRATIC. This word and the related one “theocracy” is a key JW buzz-word. It is defined by Will Durant in Story of Civilization, Vol 6 “The Reformation” as: “ ... theocracy – the rule of a society by clergymen in the name of God.”|
|140||THEOCRATIC JERK. A term once used by a circuit overseer to describe some elders.|
I truly believe, on the basis of this parable of the four slaves, that my mother, my sister, my wife and other dear JWs will rise, to their shock, to their own judgment before Christ. They will in all likelihood enter “the kingdom prepared for them” – heaven! I truly believe this is a possible destiny of some among 5,000,000 JWs.
Regarding the great disagreement between Trinitarians and Unitarians there is a comment in Will Durant’s The Reformation (Vol 6, page 486) which goes: “For hundreds of years (Castellio) pointed out, men had debated . . . the Trinity (and) . . . no agreement had been reached; probably none would ever be reached. But none is necessary, said Castellio; such disputes do not make men better; all that we need is to carry the spirit of Christ into our daily lives, to feed the poor, help the sick, and love even our enemies. It seemed to him ridiculous that all the new sects, as well as the old Church, should pretend to absolute truth and make their creeds obligatory on those over whom they had physical power. ... Can we imagine Christ ordering a man to be burned alive for advocating adult baptism?”
I have found most Unitarians quite willing to accept their Trinitarian brethren in the spirit of Christ; while I have so far not found Trinitarians to have such a forgiving view of Unitarians. This general attitude was reflected in the case of Arius versus Athanasias. There is something of Isau and Jacob here. (Galatians 4:29) Such persecution will not stand well for such men before the judgment seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10; John 5:29; Daniel 12:2)
The JW leadership. On the basis of Luke 21:8 and Christ’s warning “not to join” (NJB) false prophets and pseudo-anointed claiming his authority, what “heavier judgment” can the Pastor, the Judge, the Manager, and the Scholar expect for developing a false prophet organization which were among the very ones Christ said “not to join.” (James 3:1-3) This judgment is left to Christ and not me. The Nazarene said, “my words will judge in that day,” so the basis for anyone’s judgment is right there in the Gospels to read.
Moses describes two kinds of false prophets: a) one who leads people away from Jehovah to other gods; and, b) one who utters false prophecies. The former is to be stoned to death, and the latter is declared presumptuous and need not be a source of fear. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:20-23) I do not (others might) view the JW leadership to be those who urged worshippers to leave Jehovah. Thus, they may not be those worthy of that judgment Moses describes. Many of them will be like the latter case and will be declared “presumptuous” by the Master in that Day. In the meantime we need not fear them as a special authority no matter their claims or actions against others.
There is one major deviation from Christ in the JW’s “little flock.” Jesus gives this command to such a “little flock”: ‘Sell the things belonging to you and give gifts of mercy (to the poor).’ (Luke 12:33) Will Durant reports about Wycliffe: “He denounced the friars for preaching poverty and accumulating collective wealth.” (Vol 6, page 34) The same old prophet, much admired141 by modern JWs with whom he would remain at odds today, is described in Durant’s work: “He urged a return to the Christianity of the New Testament. ... and every reader to be free to make his own interpretation.” (page 36) One wonders if Wycliffe would join JWs if he were alive today.
|141||Wycliffe ADMIRED. The JW book Mankind’s Search for God describes Wycliffe and his Lollard followers in glowing terms: “Wycliffe's writings and portions of the Bible were distributed throughout England by a body of preachers often referred to as "Poor Priests" because they went about in simple clothing, barefoot, and without material possessions.” (page 310-1) Though the “Poor Priests” are praised, the modern JW corporate executive can hardly be compared to these humble Saints despite their making a vow of poverty for tax purposes.|
JW elders. I must make a few comments about elders in general. There are some exceptions to what I will say but I give my own observations over nearly 40 years as a JW elder. The elders are pathetically disinterested in your spirituality outside the Kingdom Hall. Most are too busy trying to get rich, particularly in the well-to-do sections of the world. Some JW cultures are particularly cool: the Swiss, the Dutch, the British. One experience related to me was how a group was out in field service and a couple sisters had a serious need for the WC and they approached the home of an elder in the territory. They were dressed down and castigated for thinking such a thing and turned away.
Elders are asked to make yearly calls on disfellowshipped persons but the average JW may never experience a single visit. In three years my elderly mother never had an elder call on her though she had a few to her home showing hospitality. Most of them are too busy even at the Hall to show any genuine interest in the flock. They are very clannish generally and associate among themselves. Most are completely deficient in “hospitality” and way too many are genuine “lovers of money.” Many are very “prideful” and take themselves too seriously. Quite a few are “lovers of wine” and if the truth were known, ought to be disfellowshipped. (1 Timothy 3:1-10)
They are seriously limited in their Biblical knowledge unless it is in the field of judicial decisions and organizational matters. Most elders take these seriously, but lack knowledge to defend their faith. I know of no elder who would sit down with me with just the Bible in our hands and even attempt to defend his faith.142 (1 Peter 3:15) To find an elder who is a deep and serious student of the Bible is extremely rare. In my near 45 years as a JW, most of it as an elder, I met no more than a handful (five!) who had a good knowledge of the Bible. Some of these are disfellowshipped now.
|142||DEFEND. I make this open offer to meet with any JW elder with only our Bibles and a small audience to debate the questions: “Who are the Great Crowd?” or, “Are these the Last Days”? or, “Did Jesus become King in 33 or 1914 AD?”|
Right here a howl will go up by JW elders: “Ha, there was his problem!” And, then they will quote by rote: “Knowledge puffs up but love builds up.” Very few elders could locate this verse in the Bible. (1 Corinthians 8:1 NWT) This is almost a buzz-word among JWs which demonstrates a subtle discouragement of advancing in Bible knowledge. I had said many times over and over, to local congregations, to friends, to publishers, and to corporate executives, the problem with JWs was making Christians out of them. I had this text quoted to me several times. My argument would be: “Well, then, I have knowledge as you accuse, so I should now become the recipient of your love, which you obviously infer you possess in abundance.”
I was to become even more shocked at the dirth of true knowledge among JW elders as the years passed. I know I would always approach the traveling overseer when he visited. I might have a gentle question I had been pondering and would ask him this out in service. I never had a circuit overseer attempt to answer one question. The general response was: “Brother, we are much too busy for that kind of study.” I gave up asking them. I finally gave up asking Brooklyn, because they generally had a tactic of avoiding the point of your question by bringing up a disconnected matter and effectively dealing with it. I wrote many scores of questions over 40 years. Finally, I think they got tired of them and wrote, in affect: “It is obvious you are a deep and serious student of the Bible. While this is good, we suggest you devote your energies to field service.” To which I wrote back: “But, I am already a pioneer and spend all of my time in field service. I only use my spare time to study the Bible.”
Another incident illustrates this matter of Bible study. One particular circuit overseer did not put me on his short list of favorite people. I believe he would find it difficult to find anything good to say about me. He was too politically charged and resented anyone who he thought was his competitor. But, when he had to say why he recommended me as the permanent presiding overseer in a particularly troubling congregation, he wrote simply on the report to the Society: “He is a lover of the Bible.” I do not know whether this was a subtle put-down, but I took it a as supreme compliment.
At one time I was on the short list of prospective instructors for the elders Kingdom Ministry School. In local congregations elders make the appearance of being quite knowledgeable and put on certain airs of superiority as they walk about the Kingdom Hall. But once at this school the majority are suddenly unable to answer the simplest of questions. Their local publishers would find this most interesting but the two behaviors were a contradiction.
Another case illustrates the poor meeting attendance of many elders. One congregation had a history over ten years of elders missing many meetings and failing to participate when they were there. The current circuit overseer brought this up and encouraged me privately to get at the root of the matter. I took this assignment seriously and prepared a report on a three month period of meetings. I would simply note who was absent at any meeting. I also noted who participated. The results were that out of more than a dozen elders, only one attended all the meetings. Most elders were less than 50% and some as little as 25%. When this report was given to the circuit overseer it nearly spelled my doom.
These same elders in this same congregation insisted in one particular case that a disfellowshipped sister attend 100% of the meetings in order to get reinstated. She did this for two years because the elders believed someone could only be reinstated if they attended all the meetings for the same length of time they had been disfellowshipped. Yet, some on her committee I knew attended much less than 50% of the meetings. These same judicial elders seemed to get a purient joy out of asking this woman highly personal questions about her deviation.
My life now. My love continues to be the Bible and I pray I may continue for a few more years. My health is a “whole nother story” in itself. I am disabled and have not seriously worked since my accident in 1980. I have given up photography because there is too much unbearable pain. I am as “poor as a church mouse” and I accept this circumstance cheerfully for I have lived well in my life. I am in and out of doctor’s offices and there is a long line of surgeries on the horizon otherwise I will be in a wheel-chair in a couple years.
I have packed into my JW life much more than most men. I knew as I grew older I would have to say good-bye to camping, bicycling, snorkeling and other physical activities. I accept the arrival of old age gracefully and hope my close friends understand my inability to always have that energy needed even to be entertained by them.
I find great joy in Bible research and teaching others. I have no interest, nor energy, in organizing something out of my new faith. There is a small group of persons who gather monthly to discuss the Bible. Prayers are private, like the Quakers, and there are no hymns. Everyone I know is busy talking to others about what they have discovered in the Bible so “witnessing” continues by these “witnesses of Jehovah” (Isaiah 43:10-12) and “witnesses of Jesus.” (Acts 1:8; Revelation 17:6) We all are striving not to be judgmental of JWs or anyone else. We are all striving to walk ever more closely to the Nazarene’s footsteps. I do not harbor deep resentments against any JW, including men on the GB. Often these men, corporate executives and local elders, are good and decent people as everyday human beings. It is when they put on their elder’s hat they commit their most serious errors.
Jesus gave all of us clear warning: ‘Look out that nobody misleads you; for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many.’ And many false prophets will arise and mislead many; and because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off.’ (Matthew 24:4, 5, 11, 12) many will come on the basis of my name, saying, 'The due time has approached.' Do not go after them. Then if anyone says to you, 'Look! [the Christ is here!]' do not believe it. For [pseudo-anointed] and false prophets will arise and will give great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones. Look! I have forewarned you. Therefore, if people say to you, 'Look! He is in the wilderness,' do not go out; 'Look! He is in the inner chambers,' do not believe it. For just as the lightning comes out of eastern parts and shines over to western parts, so the presence of the Son of man will be.’ (Matthew 24:4, 5, 11, 12 Luke 21:8; Matthew 24:23-27 NWT)
I see myself now as one of those “misled” and recovered. I did listen to the message, “the due time has approached,” and I did experience that “lawlessness” running rampant among JWs. I can only repent, confess my error to God the Father and beg His forgiveness through Jesus Christ and then accept grace and peace through the Holy Spirit. If, in the judgment before the throne of Christ, I do not receive his favorable smile, I will accept whatever “strokes,” whether many or few, as His discipline. I am completely in His hands and whatever judgment is rendered it will be fair and just. (2 Corinthians 5:l0; 1 John 2:28; 4:17; Luke 12:47, 48)
When one realizes today may be the last page in that “log” the Creator is keeping on his creatures, it is an encouragement to make this page one you are proud of. So, we awake each morning thinking about this new page in our life record. We pray this may mirror the Nazarene and we will take advantage of all opportunities to be charitable economically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Regarding current charges against me, I feel much like Luther: “I am called a heretic (apostate) by those whose purses will suffer. ... I care not much for their brawling; for only those say this whose dark understanding has never known the Bible.” (page 346) Perhaps some among them would feel about me like others did of Luther: “The strength of that heretic,” said Pope Pius IV, “consisted in this, that money never had the slightest charm for him.” (p 477)
Another ancient saint respected by JWs was Erasmus, yet this sage said: “If we want truth, every man ought to be free to say what he thinks without fear.” This is impossible among JWs. (page 431) There is only one absolute spiritual truth and it is found in the Bible, particularly the teachings of the Nazarene and his disciples. This truth is one and discovered by reading the Scriptures. Our understanding of these truths is limited by our own imperfections. These understandings of truth will vary from place to place. What will not vary is that conduct toward others described in the Sermon on the Mount. While people may disagree about a dozen important doctrinal truths, what Christ wanted us to do is clear:
‘Give to everyone asking you, and from the one taking your things away do not ask [them] back. Also, just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them. And if you love those loving you, of what credit is it to you? For even the sinners love those loving them. And if you do good to those doing good to you, really of what credit is it to you? Even the sinners do the same. Also, if you lend [without interest] to those from whom you hope to receive, of what credit is it to you? Even sinners lend [without interest] to sinners that they may get back as much. To the contrary, continue to love your enemies and to do good and to lend [without interest], not hoping for anything back; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind toward the unthankful and wicked. Continue becoming merciful, just as your Father is merciful.’ (Luke 6:30-36 NWT)
Matthew adds: ‘Prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous. For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Are not also the tax collectors doing the same thing? And if you greet your brothers only, what extraordinary thing are you doing? Are not also the people of the nations doing the same thing? you must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ (Matthew 5:45-48 NWT)
According to this, what is needed to be “perfect” and prove true sonship with the Father? Not one word here about a long list of rules, regulations, policies and procedures. Not a single word about some precise ceremony or a location where worship takes place. Spiritual perfection is attained by “love” of neighbor and enemies. This love is displayed by charity. And this chairty is to be shown to the “unthankful,” “unrighteous,” and “wicked.” No “credit” is gained with God the Father by loving only friends and fellow worshippers. JWs have seriously failed here, in what matters most from the Nazarene perspective.
My friends. Through all of this I have had a few close friends who have remained at my side while my family and JW friends treated me like a leper. If Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats has any truth at all, then some of my accusers may be in for harsher treatment than they would expect. (Matthew 25:31-46) I do not judge them, but would express the same feelings of Stephen toward the very men killing him: ‘Then, bending his knees, he cried out with a strong voice: "LORD, do not charge this sin against them."’ (Acts 7:60) If the LORD YHWH listened to Stephen’s plea, and such were forgiven their murder, how could I not have such a forgiving view of all those among JWs who have treated me murderously over the last 43 years. (James 4:2)
There are about a dozen friends who are taking a new look at the Bible without the JW filter. They are all arousing from spiritual sleep to a brilliant new dawn. How we all feel is something like one of those science fiction movies, where the aliens visit the earth and we were among the unlucky who had some control device implanted behind our ear. Now it has just been removed and we are shaking our heads and asking what happened.
Julian Raven, the Russian Jew from Spain is studying at a theological seminary in New York. The former presiding overseer in Spain, Ralph Slaney and his family of four are now developing interest in a liberated approach to the Bible. One of the anointed with poor health has taken her stand against the WBTS. An anointed mother and her anointed son, an elder, are developing interest among some family members in Palm Springs. My good friend, Andrew Foss the Owl,143 has made contacts with others in South Africa and carries on several postal correspondence courses as well as email “chats.” Another family of four is facing some problems with the Society, the husband having been accused of “apostasy” in the JW slander mill. So there is a group of close friends who seek out one another for mutual support.
|143||OWL. Andy began calling me the Pelican because i was like a bird in the wrong place as Psalm 102:6 poetically describes one. I began to efer to him as the “little owl” from the same verse.|
Am I righteous in all of this? The words of Paul come to my mind instantly: ‘Now the most important thing about a servant is that he does just what his master tells him to. What about me? Have I been a good servant? Well, I don’t worry over what you think about this, or what anyone else thinks. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but even that isn’t final proof. It is the Lord himself who must examine me and decide. So be careful not to jump to conclusions before the Lord returns as to whether someone is a good servant or not. When the Lord comes, he will turn on the light so that everyone can see exactly what each one of us is really like, deep down in our hearts. ... For we must all stand before Christ to be judged and have our lives laid bare–before them. Each of us will receive whatever he deserves for the good or bad things he has done in his earthly body.’ (1 Corinthians 4:1-5; 2 Corinthians 5:10 Living Bible)
The first time any of us will know “exactly what each one of us is really like” will be at this moment during the parousia-Judgment. It may come as a shock to most of us, but particularly to the self-righteous and self-opinionated.
What kind of creatures does God want to grant everlasting life? It can be reduced to two, no matter their religion: a) God is their center (1 Corinthians 15:28); and, b) love of neighbor. (Galatians 5:14; 1 John 3:23) These are the type of beings who can live in His universe peacefully. All the “truths” will be worked out in time. There is one final point:
The restoration of true religion. There is a common argument in JW literature. It argues that original Christianity dissolved into a general apostasy and then “true religion” was restored with Pastor Russell. Note this in the Proclaimers book:
“The Great Apostasy Develops
“To be sure, the Reformation accomplished some good things, most notably the translation of the Bible into languages of the common people. The free spirit of the Reformation led to more objective Bible research and an increased understanding of Bible languages. The Reformation did not, however, mark a return to true worship and doctrine. Why not?
“The effects of the apostasy had penetrated deep, to the very foundations of Christendom. Thus, although various Protestant groups broke free from the papal authority of Rome, they carried over some of the basic flaws of the Roman Catholic Church, features that resulted from the abandonment of true Christianity. For example, although the governing of the Protestant churches varied somewhat, the basic division of the church into a dominating clergy class and a subjugated laity was retained. Also retained were unscriptural doctrines such as the Trinity, the immortal soul, and eternal torment after death. And like the Roman Church, the Protestant churches continued to be part of the world, being closely involved with the political systems and the elite ruling classes.” (Proclaimers, page 39, 40)
There is something of interest to note here. The Proclaimers book says one of the “good things” was, “The free spirit of the Reformation led to more objective Bible research and an increased understanding of Bible languages.” May we ask: does this same “free spirit . . . lead to more objective Bible research” among JWs? There is no “free spirit of objective Bible research” allowed by the Society! The very “free spirit” which brought about the Reformation is completely squashed among JWs! It was a “good thing” then, but is not today. If the JW GB had been in control in Luther’s day, no Reformation would ever have occurred.
This describes the “effects of the apostasy” despite “some good things” resulting from the Reformation.” It infers the Reformation was not a restoration to true religion. From this premise there is a great leap that there was to be such a restoration of true religion. This need contradicts the supposed existence of the “faithful and discreet slave class” throughout this same history of apostasy. If the “faithful and discreet slave class” existed throughout history then there would be no need to “restore true religion” for it would already exist in the body of the “faithful and discreet slave” class.
Originally the parable of the wheat and weeds was used by JWs to establish some kind of “restoration of true religion.” The argument went there would be a forty year harvest period following the Return of Christ in 1874, culminating in 1914. This view, using Matthew 13.:39-43, has been “readjusted” by JW interpreters. A reading of the parable would show there is no gathering of “wheat” until after the “weeds” are separated out of the Son’s kingdom, those causing stumbling and lawless ones. Only after this burning of the “weeds” are the “wheat” gathered into the Sower’s “store-house.” This was to be done by angels not humans on earth. The disciples stated they understood the parable. It is not likely by this understanding the apostles understood the Pastor’s interpretation of the parable.
The other method used to prove a restoration of true religion was to apply various so-called “restoration prophecies.” It is acknowledged by JW interpreters these had an application to the restoration of Israel in the Fifth Century. The JW scholars would then make a leap of faith and, using the Magic Wand and Fairy Dust, insist there has to be a second, or even a third, fulfillment of these same prophecies. They do this without any Scriptural support. This attempt is similar to Christian Zionists who use these same prophecies to apply to Israel today. Both are prophetic errors.
If the “faithful and discreet slave class” has existed unbroken throughout the centuries back to Christ, then it would be assumed one could discover who the “faithful and discreet slave class” was just before the Pastor and then somehow the Pastor was in this unbroken chain. Who, then, was the “faithful and discreet slave class” preceding the Pastor? How could true religion be restored if it always existed as the “faithful and discreet slave”? On the other hand, true religion can never be restored in the figure of a false prophet.
What do we need to do? We need to rid ourselves of that ego-centricity which makes all our opinions and judgments so perfectly correct. We need to replace these with that love taught by the Nazarene reflected in genuine forgiveness and charity. We need to image that perfect love of our Lord in our daily dealings with everyone. We need to give space and room to those around us and respect their opinions and life-styles. We are all entitled to our own views and opinions but we need not always express them to others.
Our own personal faith, whether little or great, strong or weak, will move us to speak. When called on to defend our hope it ought to be in a manner which shows we sanctify the Nazarene in our heart. Peter expressed it this way: ‘But sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, always ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect.’ (1 Peter 3:15 NWT) Our “defense” must manifest gentleness and respect. It ought to be characterized as gracious: ‘Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, so as to know how you ought to give an answer to each one.’ (Colossians 4:6 NWT) This will only occur if we remove that sick judgmental attitude from our hearts.
Nazarene Commentary 2000©
Mark Heber Miller
©2000 All Rights Reserved