Matthew 23 (Updated Version)

Posted by Rational on May 16, 1999 at 13:06:19

I do believe in God and Jesus Christ. I also believe that the Scriptures represent the best efforts of faithful men and women to record their perceptions of God's dealings with them, as they were "inspired" to do so by their love of God and the action of his spirit in their lives. Now that (I hope) I've passed your litmus test, here's an updated translation of Matthew 23 I uncovered in my investigations...

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying: "The Governing Body and the 'Given Ones' have seated themselves in the seat of Moses. 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. They say you should auxiliary pioneer and attend all five meetings each week, but they rarely report more than five hours a month (and much of this is speaking assignments). And they eschew meetings to care for their Bethel 'responsibilities'. All the speaking assignments they perform, they do so to be viewed by men; for they lengthen their talks and go overtime and utilize Christendom's commentaries, but they do not allow you to do likewise. They like all to know that they are on the Governing Body or in the Writing Department or the Service Department or are a Gilead Instructor, and the admiring greetings accompanied by envelopes from hard-working brothers or elderly sisters on fixed incomes. They claim to be under a "vow of poverty" but enjoy the comforts and security of life at Patterson, while being paid to travel all over the world. They like to be looked up to and admired for their wisdom and faithfulness and to give the most important talks at conventions and assemblies, to be recognized wherever they go, entertained and fawned over by mere publishers. But you, do not you be called "Chieftain Class", for One is your Chieftain, whereas you are all brothers. Morever do not call anyone your governing body on earth, for One is your Governing Body, the heavenly One. Neither be called Nethinim or "Given Ones", for one is your Given One, the Christ. But the greatest among you must be your minister. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Woe to you, Governing Body and 'Given Ones', hypocrites! because you shut up the kingdom of the heavens in 1935; for you yourselves do not go in, neither do you permit those on their way in to go in. If they partake of the memorial emblems as I instructed, you suggest they may be former drug abusers or mentally unstable.

Woe to you Governing Body and Nethinim, hypocrites! because you marshall others to traverse sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one you make him a subject for lifelong ignorance and poverty twice as much so as yourselves (who live in ease and security).

Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'If anyone reads it in the Bible, it is nothing; but if anyone reads it in The Watchtower, he is under obligation.' Fools and blind ones! Which, in fact, is greater, The Watchtower or the Bible that The Watchtower cites out of context (one verse here and part of another verse there)? Also, 'If anyone reads something in a scholarly Science or History magazine, it is nothing; but if it appears in an Awake! article, he is under obligation.' Blind ones! Which, in fact, is greater, a selectively edited, out-of-context condensation or the original source that did the academic research? Therefore he that claims to teach the truth had better keep to the facts in context; and he that claims to represent Almighty God and Christ ... well, do I really need to tell you?

Woe to you Governing Body and 'Given Ones', hypocrites! because you put in token hours of service and instruct others to preach, but you have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was binding to do, yet not to disregard the other things. And not to divide families and friends by disfellowshiping those who follow their conscience and rational minds in pursuit of a closer relationship with God. And certainly not to promote the pointless death of children and others by enforcing the sanctity of a symbol (blood) over the sanctity of the reality itself--life! Blind guides, who strain out the reality, but gulp down the symbol!

Woe to you, Governing Body and Nethinim, hypocrites! because you loudly advertise every conceivable flaw and past sin of other religions, but you deny and hide your own. You dredge up sins of churches from a thousand years ago, but if someone mentions your own errors of less than a hundred years ago, you cry 'unfair! that's ancient history!' You rewrite your own history when those old enough to remember the truth have passed away. What you cannot rewrite, you hide by breaking it into disconnected pieces and scattering them throughout your own official, non-chronological, history. Blind Bethelite, tell the truth about your own organization, then address the truth about other organizations.

Woe to you, Governing Body and Nethinim, hypocrites! because you resemble neat, clean Kingdom Halls, which outwardly indeed appear reputable (if not original) but inside are full of teachers who teach selective 'truth' and every bit as much immorality as any other religion, but which goes unreported by you. In that way also, your Public Relations and Media Affairs offices outwardly indeed, promote an appearance of righteousness and fairness, of respect for personal freedoms and rights, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness, for you do not extend those rights and freedoms to your own followers.

Woe to you Governing Body and 'Given Ones', hypocrites! because you apply every scriptural event and parable to yourselves, and you say, 'All the things that happened in the days of ancient Israel were prophetic of the Theocratic Organization today.' Therefore you are bearing witness against yourselves, for if you are the modern-day antitype of ancient Israel, then you must bear careful scrutiny of your authority and your actions, and you must bear the same responsibility of judgment. Well, then, prove you are not just as full of human rules and traditions of men as they were!

Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of H2O? For this reason, here I am sending forth to you reformers and skeptics and Norwegians and A.F. Some of them you will disfellowship and shun, and some you will threaten with legal action and persecute from website to website; that there may come upon you all the righteous blood spilled in the "spiritual paradise" from the blood of Ray Franz [marginal reading, "Ed Dunlap"] to the blood of The Liberal Elder, who may or may not yet have been uncovered and disfellowshiped. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. Or maybe that generation. Or the generation that was old enough to understand the meaning of events in 1914. Or the generation that was born in 1914. Or the generation that witnessed the launch of Sputnik in 1957. Or a kind of generation of wicked people that may or may not have begun in 1914 ... aw forget it!

Bethel, Bethel, the aborter of scholarships and assassin of careers,--how often I wanted to gather your writers together, the way a real editor would for a brainstorming session or a reality check. But that's about as likely as a sister being allowed to write or teach for the Society. Or an honest scholar commending the Society for its careful and unbiased interpretation of history, science or the Scriptures. Or Diogenes finishing his quest at Patterson. Or ... well, let's just say, you people did not want it. Look! Your Bethel homes are abandoned to you. For I say to you, You will by no means see me from henceforth until you say, 'Gee, we really screwed up, and we're truly sorry for having misrepresented you, God, the Bible, science, history ... and everything that is embraced by the word "truth." But we're ready to make genuine reforms now, Lord.'

Well, I can't vouch for the authenticity or age of this document, but it sure has the "ring of truth" about it!