Monday, August 11, 2014

Susan Murray's Open Letter to Individual Members of Her Congregation

Susan Murray's letter, which expresses her reasons, in detail, for leaving the Watchtower Society of Jehovah's Witnesses, was copied and sent, on June 21, 2014, to individual members of the congregation, from which she was disfellowshipped, on July 16, 2014.
Created by Christian Sparlock Freedom
Dear Friend,

As you may know, it has been over two years since I last attended a meeting at the Kingdom Hall.  There were several factors that contributed to my decision to leave at that time, but the most compelling was my health.  I had reached a point where I felt physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  The breakup of my marriage and loss of livelihood within a one year period had weighed me down to the point where I could barely think straight.  I tried my best to function on auto-pilot and continue to faithfully attend the meetings, but that didn’t work after a while.  Maybe it was my occasional outspokenness; my sub-par performance in the ministry; my decision to pursue a bachelor’s degree; Kingdom Hall gossip, or all the above that led some to view me as “marked” or bad association.  Whatever the case was, walking through that big metal door had become a weekly exercise in stress management, for I no longer felt genuinely welcome, safe, or comfortable in the Kingdom Hall.  Feeling trapped under a load I could no longer carry, I prayed to Jehovah then made the decision to never subject myself to that again.  But this was not the only reason I decided to leave, as mentioned.  Please allow me to explain.

Gaining bible knowledge through reading and study was something I deeply cherished as a Jehovah’s Witness.  But as my comprehension grew over time, so did my troubles with a restless conscience.  Specific information I read in the publications, and particular statements repeated by elders and others on a regular basis didn’t appear to be supported scripturally; likewise for certain mandated procedures that were carried out each week, month, etc.  But the real source of the cognitive dissonance I struggled with for years was a couple of rules I bumped into not long after my baptism over seventeen years ago, the two most important rules for Jehovah's Witnesses: 

1. obey the Governing Body as if they are God himself

2. Accept and comply with all Watchtower teachings, even when they deviate from the scriptures.

The Watchtower Society's publications and the elders, etc. never stated these directives in such straigh-forward terms, but they were fully understood by the rank and file, nonetheless.  Why the issue?  These rules required me to obediently “follow the leader,” regardless of whether it bothered my conscience to do so.  This was not what I dedicated my life to God for and, in fact, such requirements were completely incongruous with what I was preaching to individuals of other faiths.  The same bible verses were recited time and time again to the Lutheran, Catholic and Mormon:  "Obey God as ruler rather than men; be faithful even in what is least; be sure of all things; test every inspired expression; do not put your trust in earthling men.I wanted to help all I met in the ministry to understand that blind complacency was not acceptable according to God’s word.  “True” Christians must: 

1. carefully scrutinize every church policy, procedure and doctrine

2. Defy church authorities and their organizational protocols when it is evident that scriptural directives are not being followed

3. Cancel church membership if necessary. 

Needless to say, the imposed double standard --do as I say, not as I do--made it increasingly difficult to engage in the door to door ministry.  How could I tell anyone to do these things when I wasn’t doing them myself? 

From the beginning right up to the present, the Watchtower Society has been well-known for its countless changes in doctrines, policies, and procedures, as well as numerous failed predictions.  So I am simply drawing attention to the obvious, by pointing out that Watchtower leadership is wrong at times.  As mentioned, my biggest issue was that I was required to “follow the leader”, in other words, to accept and comply with absolutely everything the Governing Body and elders told me to do, despite the frequent changes and inconsistencies, and despite the fact that doing so meant I had to not only ignore my bible-trained conscience, but ignore God as well.   There were times when I went out on a limb and discussed my concerns with a few individuals, but the response was always the same Watchtower Society mantra:  "Wait on Jehovah."  Put another way, do what the elders and Governing Body tell you to do, no matter what; Jehovah will straighten things out in his own due time.  Sound familiar?

This stock answer never made sense to me, so one day I decided to do a bit of research (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1)  It didn’t take long to see that such thinking was entirely out of sync with God’s word, and the following explains why.  According to the Gospels, the leaders of God’s covenant people had once again strayed from his Word by establishing their own standards of righteousness and, as in times past, Jehovah wasn’t happy about it.  His feelings on the matter where made known by Jesus’ scathing denunciations, but more than anything else, he condemned them for their self-righteous arrogance and hypocritical double standards. (Matt. 3:9; 23:3, 13-32; Romans 2:17-24)  As you know, the story ends with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, God’s divine execution of justice upon his unfaithful people, his “ channel” which, interestingly, wiped out the lives of not only the Jewish religious leaders, but the rank and file, as well, in other words, those who had trusted and obeyed these men rather than God.  From this information, one can draw the following conclusion:  We will all be individually accountable to the Lord on judgment day, regardless of our religious affiliation (2 Corinthians 5:10).  Therefore, no individual, nor group of individuals, nor religious organization is exempt from God’s judgment, regardless of what anyone may claim to the contrary (Matt. 3:9; 7:21-23).  Consequently, there is no salvation,  no “ark” of safety, in any religious organizations nor the leaders who guide them. (Psalms 146:3, 4).  The tragic death of each and every rank and file Jew that perished in Jerusalem in 70 CE is a sobering reminder of what awaits those who think otherwise, who erroneously believe the following:

1. Membership in a particular religious organization provides divine protection and exemption from some of the scriptural requirements they teach others to live by (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:21)

2.  Absolute, rather than relative subjection to their religious leaders equates to obedience to God and Christ.

Remember, giving allegiance and loyalty to anyone or anything other than Jehovah first, constitutes spiritual fornication, idolatry, something He does not tolerate. (Exodus 20:3; Ephesians 5:5; Rev. 14:4a)  Think about this the next time you compliantly promote Watchtower dogma that is not supported scripturally (Ephesians 4:25), or follow organizational procedures that violate bible principles, because you have probably done these things over and over again with little or no thought as to the potential consequences.  I did.  For years, I tried to silence that little inner voice and faithfully do whatever I was told in order to demonstrate obedience to the “Slave” and maintain a good standing in the congregation.  It’s truly ironic that for seventeen years, I was vigilant in avoiding any sort of political and/or nationalistic demonstration of allegiance or loyalty for fear of committing idolatry; and yet for those same years, I made sacrifices, not to God, but to an image, a religious organization.

But what about the verses that say we must speak in agreement and be submissive to those taking the lead (1 Corinthians 1:10; Hebrews 13:7), or the one that mentions the light getting brighter (Proverbs 4:18), you may ask.  Well think about this: since Jehovah never lies or contradicts, His principles, rules and prophecies are consistent and unchanging, even if this doesn’t always appear to be the case.  Like a beautiful masterpiece in a dimly lit museum, the many intricacies of God’s immutable truths cannot be seen, nor fully appreciated, without a bright light, a divine luminary that dissipates the shadows of un-enlightenment over time. (Psalms 36:9; 43:3)  So, even though we may not comprehend everything we read in God’s Word, we can still draw the conclusion that Jehovah does not require anyone to blindly “follow the leader” and/or maintain hypocritical double standards in worship.  If the reverse were true, verses such as Acts 5:29, Psalms 146:3, and 1 John 4:1 would not be in the bible.  With this in mind, why is it that Jehovah's Witnesses hang on the Governing Body’s every word, never questioning any of their claims, yet continue to exhort their neighbors to carefully scrutinize everything their religious leaders say and do?  After much thought, I believe I have formulated a reasonable explanation.  Consider the following.

As a student of the bible, I can say with confidence that neither Proverbs 4:18 nor any other verse indicates that Jehovah is directly or indirectly responsible for the Governing Body’s long track record of contradictions, flip-flops in  understanding , major policy changes (e.g., organ transplants), failed predictions, etc.  To even imply anything to the contrary is clearly misleading, for this suggests that the Watchtower Society’s consistent misrepresentation of the scriptures is due to Jehovah’s slowness in shedding light, rather than the real reasons, which include presumptuousness, lack of holy spirit, arrogance, etc. on the part of the Governing Body.  And yet, each time these changes occur, Proverbs 4:18 is cited in the related Watchtower articles and quoted in talks from the podium, leading Jehovah's Witnesses to believe that these men are not directly responsible for any errors they make (because it’s God’s doing).  This raises the Governing Body to the level of infallibility, which is the very reason why you and many others mechanically “follow the leader," regardless of how much or how often they deviate, revamp, revise, scrap, screw-up, etc.  A similar process takes place in the case of Hebrews 13:7, 1 Corinthians 1:10, and other verses such as Psalms 42:5.  When considered within the context of the biblical canon, not a single verse, illustration, or account indicates that Jehovah's Witnesses are under divine obligation to comply with the Governing Body's every dictate, right or wrong (Acts 5:29).  Even hinting that the reverse is true is nothing less than a deceptive, megalomaniacal attempt to alter God’s universal hierarchy of authority in the minds of spiritually-inclined individuals (1 Corinthians 11:3).  And yet, the Governing Body does just that and more, in order to perpetuate the lie, by telling Jehovah's Witnesses that absolute, rather than relative subjection to their headship equates to obedience to God and Christ.  These eisegeses and others are consistently and frequently dispensed via the talks, publications, etc., week after week, month after month, and year after year.  In fact, during one particular meeting, a highly respected elder declared, “Whatever comes out of the mouth of the Slave, you consider that as coming out of the mouth of Jehovah.”  In light of the foregoing, such grandiose claims are utter blasphemy (Jehovah NEVER lies --Romans 3:4).  What’s even worse is the fact that compliance with these untruths and others is strictly enforced much in the same way the Catholic Church once sanctioned any who challenged its unscriptural dogmas, policies, and practices.  Apostate branding, public humiliation, removal from the congregation and shunning by Jehovah's Witness family members and friends is the outcome that awaits all who dare to listen to their consciences and loyally uphold God’s word (Acts 5:29).  These shameful implements of evil have led to mental and emotional problems, serious physical ailments, and even death among a significant number of disfellowshipped Jehovah's Witnesses.  Taking all this into account, it is no wonder Jehovah’s Witnesses practice hypocrisy!

If you have no problem being deceived, lied to, manipulated and controlled by fear, you are where you should be—in the organization called the Watchtower Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  However, if, like me, you have experienced a crisis of conscience due to the unscriptural autocratic style of governance the organization wields, DO NOT IGNORE IT.  God has given you a conscience for a reason, so it is vitally important that you use it as HE intended.  Here’s how: 

1. Read and study your bible exclusively and independently

2. Independently research the history of the organization and current and past Watchtower Society doctrines, policies, and procedures, paying particular attention to the frequent flip-flopping, revisions, etc.  

3. Independently and carefully verify all information that is dispensed via the publications and public talks, rejecting anything that is not solidly backed by God’s word.  Be particularly on guard for statements that tell you to accept and/or comply with whatever you are told, even if it doesn’t make sense, add-up, etc.

4. Practice what you preach!  Refuse to hypocritically teach others to apply bible standards that you are not fully complying with yourself (in other words, preaching 1 John 4:1 but not applying it).

5. Refuse to commit idolatry/spiritual fornication by complacently “following the leader” when you know or even sense that doing so requires, or may require, disobedience to God and his word.  Remember, he who is faithful in what is least, is faithful in what is most! 

6. Refuse to be intimidated and controlled by family, friends, elders or anyone else that attempts to frighten you into remaining in subjection to the organization rather than Jehovah

7. Pray to God for strength and courage to do what is right according to his word. 

If you are unclear by what I mean by “independently”, let me explain.  Rather than relying on the Organization’s self-published material to verify the accuracy of the Organization’s assertions, claims etc., seek out sources that are not controlled by, nor affiliated with the Watchtower.  This is what Jehovah wants you to do and it’s what you tell others to do! (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1)  Verify, test, check--just as you would if you were buying a vehicle.  Rather than rely on the salesman’s claims, you would consult independent and objective sources of information like Consumer Reports or, before making the decision to buy.      

What is the purpose of this letter?  I assure you it is in no way an attempt to subvert your faith in God.  To the contrary, it is a plea to fully trust and comply with God’s Word, regardless of the consequences.  Fear of man is what lays a snare.  And it is a warning.  If you continue to remain in the Organization and complacently accept whatever you are spoon-fed, you are pleasing men, not Jehovah, and you are in danger.  
The tragedy that befell God’s unfaithful anointed in the first century foreshadows future events that will befall God’s modern-day, unfaithful anointed remnant and all those (the rank and file) who put their faith and trust in them.  I realize Jehovah's Witnesses are taught to believe that Christendom is modern day apostate Jerusalem, but this simply isn’t so.  If that’s the case, God’s anointed remnant is in Christendom, not the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  This is a critical point, because it involves you on a very personal level.  How?  According to the scriptures, wherever the anointed are is precisely where the apostasy and subsequent judgment will occur.  So then, if the remnant is located in your religious organization, the foretold apostasy will also occur within your religious organization.  Ask yourself:  "Why did Jehovah spare the Samaritans or the “pagan half-Jews," when He brought destruction upon His covenant people in 70 CE?

According to the pattern set in the first century, the purpose of the modern day apostasy is to fully test the anointed. (Malachi 3:2, 3)  Whether they qualify to co-rule mankind in the future will be determined by whom they ultimately choose to serve, whether it be Jehovah or their unfaithful religious leaders.  The Revelation prophesies and many others reveal this tug of war over loyalty (Matt. 4:8, 9; John 14:30,18:36; Rev. 1:5, 5:10, 6:15; 16:12, 14; 17:2, 10, 12, 14, 18; 18:3, 9; 19:16-19; 20:4, 6; 21:24; 22:5). On one side is Satan and the unfaithful anointed, who, like the Pharisees, deviate from God’s word and deceive the rank and file into doing the same.  On the other side, Christ and his faithful anointed who loyally uphold Jehovah's standards, even unto death (Revelation 2:10).  Sadly, the vast majority of those on the battle lines will not prevail because they are on the losing side, caught in the same trap that Satan set in the first century, a religious organization that appears to have God’s approval.

The information in the preceding two paragraphs is not of my own originality but comes from anointed brothers and sisters--yes, members of the body of Christ--who have been kicked out of the Organization for refusing to comply with unscriptural doctrines, policies, and practices.  Many of these faithful ones wrote letters to the Governing Body about these matters, but they were largely ignored.  How do you think Jehovah feels about that? Well, how did He feel when Jesus and his disciples were thrown out of the synagogues? 

In closing, I want to point out that I still worship Jehovah God, and no, I’m not a Trinitarian.  I still care about you.  This is the sole reason why you have personally received this information.  Should you desire to discuss any of the points presented here in greater detail, or simply need a listening ear and some loving support, please don’t hesitate to contact me.   All communication will be completely confidential so you don’t have to worry.

All My Love,
S. Murray

Approx. three days after I sent my letter out to everyone in the congregation, one of the elders in my former congregation called.  The first thing he wanted to talk about was subjection to the Organization.  Citing the example of Moses and Aaron, he discussed how the Governing Body is being used by God today, even though they make mistakes like Moses did when he commanded water to come out of the rock.  Then another elder texted me.  The following quotes are their text messages to me and my responses to them, via text message:  

My response to elder #1 who phoned me:

"I thought a bit more about your example of Moses and Aaron.  What you failed to mention was the fact that Moses’ single slip of the tongue cost him his life.  In one moment of frustration, he "directed attention" to himself rather than Jehovah, spoke "rashly with his lips," and "acted undutifully towards Jehovah." (insight book, p. 438) But the Governing Body has a lengthy and ongoing track record of such offenses!  What's worse is the fact that they pass the buck for these sins rather than show repentance. How do you think Jehovah feels about that?  His dealings with Moses makes the answer to this question crystal clear.  Maybe you should consider these things the next time you put Jehovah and the Governing Body on equal footing at one of the meetings. (I am  alluding to  a comment this elder made at a meeting once; it’s quoted in my letter…”whatever comes out of the mouth of Slave, consider this as coming out of the mouth of Jehovah.”)

elder #1 text response:

"The questions I ask myself are like those of the apostles: "Whom shall we go to away to?" (John 6:68)  Where did you learn the truth about the soul, the real condition of the dead, hellfire, the trinity, the paradise, the Kingdom, being  "no part of this world,"  the 144,000, etc.?  Was it from the churches of Christendom?  Or was it from Jehovah' s Witnesses?  Those from whom you get your information...where did they get whatever truths they have?  From their own selves or from Jehovah's Witnesses?  Further, Jesus said that "this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth," during the last days.  Who is doing this work today?  The churches?  Those who espouse your views?  Do they follow the example of Jesus and the apostles, who "preached publicly and from house to house"?  These are the questions that are so revealing as to whom Jehovah is using and blessing."

My text response to elder #1:

I do appreciate that I gained a love of God's word from Jehovah's Witnesses, but that in no way obligates me to worship the Governing Body, rather than Jehovah.  It doesn't somehow exempt me from the divine obligation to obey god as ruler, rather than men, nor to test every inspired expression, etc.  Had the rank and file understood this in the first century, they would not have rejected the Lord's counsel to flee Jerusalem.  Their religious leaders were "sons of Abraham" and “teachers of the law,” but that did not excuse them from the responsibility to "make sure of all things."

Good afternoon!  I would like to conclude my thoughts from last night.  According to the scriptures, neither preaching, nor any other "powerful works," under any circumstances, cancels out the sinful practice of hypocrisy in Jehovah's eyes.  The Pharisees were "sons of Abraham", "teachers of the law" as mentioned previously, and yet, the Lord condemned them for their double standards in worship..."Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you travel around by sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one of you, you make him twice as much of a son of Gehenna as yourselves."  Like these self-righteous men, Jehovah's Witnesses practice hypocrisy, in other words, "Do as I say, not as I do," so Matthew 23:15 above aptly applies to them, as well. (also Matthew 23:3, 28; 7:21-23)

Elder #2 text:

I’ve read your letter and spoke with Brother XXXX about your exchange with him.  In light of all of that, are you formally saying that you no longer want to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses?  We only ask that as a last resort, as we would prefer to meet and discuss the matter.  If however, your mind is made up, we will respect your decision. Thank you

 My text response to elder #2:

good I mentioned to Brother XXXX, there is no point in meeting with you two, because there's nothing you can say that I haven't already heard and taken into consideration.  I still worship Jehovah and talk to others about his truths, but I refuse to practice hypocrisy and bow down to an image--an Organization--as I once did.  If you choose to disfellowship me, I know this is the real reason why (my refusal to obey the Governing Body as ruler, rather than God), for I spoke the whole truth and nothing but the truth in my letter.

 Elder #2 text response: 

"So let me get this straight one last time.  You were taught what you call Gods truths through an organization that you now call an image that requires idolatry to be able to remain in its good graces.  You say you learned this while in a spiritually weak state from those who were admitted apostates, because the organization would not listen and adopt some of their views.

"And now you're convinced that Jehovah's will for you, going forward, is to either teach bible truths you learned from an organization you now disdain or try to convince former religious associates to adopt the view of your new group and develop the same disgust with this organization and its slave that you and your group share.

Please consider 3 scriptural points

1. Who really is the faithful and discrete slave whom his master appointed.  If it's not this one, you must be saying its your new one.

2. "By their fruits you will recognize them."  What righteous fruit has your group produced other than disdain for their former organization?

3. "Not everyone saying lord, lord will enter........but those doing the will of my Father."  Is Jehovah's will for all his servants to be associated with a group that took its very identity from an organization that they now turn on and call "apostate.Teaching others to hate this organization and this slave is your whole ministry?  Susan, you have a dead chicken on your neck and you're calling it "sweet smelling."  Please meet with 2 of us.  You have been over-reached.  It's not too late.  Your brother still…. XXXXX" (Note: the “dead chicken” comment was kind of an inside joke)

My text response to Elder #2:

Good morning…. In reply to your message, my study of the scriptures alone made it clear to me--long before I left--that Jehovah does not approve of the practice of hypocrisy, and yet, I was continually required to preach/teach one thing, while doing another or face expulsion from the congregation. (Matt. 23:3b, 28, 15; Romans 2:21)  I believe I spelled that out very clearly in my letter.  This realization had a snowball effect, as it led me to question the scriptural accuracy of everything the Organization said and did from that point forward. (acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1; Prov. 146:3,4)  Once I determined that the Governing Body was not actually the “faithful and discreet slave,” as they claimed, it all made sense, the hypocrisy, consistent misapplication of God’s word, etc.  It was at this point that I decided to leave.  Approximately six months later, I discovered that I was not the only one who had seen and smelled the same “stinky," lifeless chicken dangling from the Governing Body’s neck.  So, contrary to your assumption, I did not “learn this while in a spiritually weak state from those who were admitted apostates."  Rather, it was God’s word alone that led me to the light of “truth," something the Watchtower Society has ventured further and further away from over the years. (John 17:17)  Speaking of God’s word, the similarities between apostate Jerusalem and the Watchtower Society is truly uncanny—the self-righteous arrogance, false sense of security, the hypocrisy, etc.  Yes, it is not too late Brother XXXXX…”to begin fleeing to the mountains”. (Matt. 24:16)
Admittedly, their own words describe them as self-appointed.