From the Book: "Psychological Terror"

Question: Who is accusing Jehovah`s Witnesses of psychological terror?

Answer: Those people are no friends of Jehovah`s Witnesses. Quite often they are apostates but also church institutions.

Question: What is meant by the expression "apostates"?[see footnote 1]

Answer: As defined by Jehovah`s Witnesses, an "apostate" is a baptized supporter of the religious association who had an intensive Bible study recognizing the Bible as God`s Word and the truth. Consequently, of his own accord he professed himself towards God as his witness and subsequently got baptized in public. At some point the person concerned ended up forgetting his devotion to God and consciously and without repentance disregarded God`s laws for personal reasons that contradict Bible principles (smoking, adultery and the like).

Quite often the former religious association gets blamed for this - frequently even in public - without revealing the true reasons that led to excommunication. Biblical prohibitions are then presented as prohibitions by the religious association.

Question: According to Jehovah`s Witnesses, what are the reasons for apostasy and the accusation that the elders as well as members of the congregation exercise "psychological terror" on brothers who doubt the respectability of the Watchtower Society?

Answer: We have recognized "hurt pride" and/or a "bad conscience" as the main reason.

The moral and ethical standards of the Bible are very high and it takes strong faith as well as complete devotion to God`s will to merely endeavor to observe them. Even Adam and Eve surrendered to Satan`s temptation and so mankind lost Paradise.

However, in the Bible God prophesied a restoration of paradise conditions and proclaimed great hope for those believing in him and the ransom sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ which led them to live a Christian life. Doubts and the realization of shortcomings can present a great strain. Being or remaining a non-smoker can be or become a strain. Avoiding extramarital or premarital intercourse could be considered an unreasonable demand. Devoting oneself to political neutrality meets with little understanding in society and honesty in paying taxes is often considered to be tomfoolery.

If in such a situation of strain elders encourage that person in line with the Bible, however, the "one having doubts" has a greater inner urge to continue his offenses - I want to smoke, I do not just want to sleep with my wife, I want to indulge in promiscuity, I do not want to give Caesar`s things to Caesar, I do not want to give God`s things to God - the Bible shows the consequences of such a stubbornness and accordingly the unrepentant person is on the brink of being disfellowshipped from the religious association (excommunication).

Apostasy does not develop from mere doubt, not even from a sinful act but from a conscious persistence in sin that the Bible warns of as well as a conscious rejection of the idea of turning back.. No person will be disfellowshipped because of a sin. That will only happen if this person proves to reject advice and continues to practice sin unrepentantly.

The attitude of Jehovah`s Witnesses is supported by the Bible, according to 2John 6-11; Romans 16:17; 1Corinthians 5:11-13 and Titus 3:9-11; see also Hebrews 10:26,27. Godly, Biblical repentance means turning around (Acts 3:19).

Would you call it psychological terror if a partner in marriage refused the other one his/her consent to a ?ménage à trois"? If the internal revenue service mobilized its bureau for an investigation of tax offenses or if the body`s reaction to smoking was illness - is that psychological terror? On the other hand, however, do you not find the reference made by the Catholic Church to eternal torture in hell fire as a result of sin to be psychological terror?

We surely have to distinguish at least between two interpretations of the expression "psychological terror" - between the actual "intimidation of the soul, the "living being" meaning the human being, by others? which would, for example, be the threat of "eternal torture of sinful human beings in hell" that even Luther found so horrible, and "self-made psychological terror".

Psycho?, psych?, Psych? [Greek psyché "soul", determinative element of compounds meaning "soul, mind".

Terror[lat.], 1. intimidation, oppression; 2. reign of terror/tyranny; form of political power struggle/abus

(© Meyers Lexikonverlag - translated)

In the case of self-made psychological terror the person who appears to be suffering accuses another person or institution of exercising psychological terror. Really, the one suffering is just trying to cover his own "bad conscience" or the rafter in his own eye by pointing out to the splinter in the other one`s eye, thus trying to pretend that it is a rafter. We encounter a blame culture every day in family life, at work, in the general environment, right down to politics and the international relations - quite often as a result of jealousy or wounded pride. This behavior is generally found to be totally normal and is crowned with the following sentence: "Those who defend themselves, accuse themselves".

"(In my opinion) another one was given preference when duties were appointed although (in my opinion) I am much more qualified and have done a lot more so far." Have I examined this opinion self-critically? Have I talked to the other person, trying to understand the "other one`s" viewpoint?

Let us talk about Jehovah`s Witnesses - in their opinion their belief based on the Bible can be regarded either as a burden or as a joy.

It will be a burden: if the temptations of this world - called by Jehovah`s Witnesses the "wicked system of things nearing its end"- are (or get) overrated. Suppose I want to determine what is "good" and what is "wicked". Say my heart pulls me to other things. Perhaps I believe I have to please or impress other people. Maybe my hobbies, title, career, money, sex or comfort become my gods. Naturally, I will then feel restricted by the demanding Biblical moral and ethical requirements and their call to become "doers of the word". The encouragement given by others, perhaps the elders, will become a nuisance. I may start to feel frightened of Armageddon and rather than trying to find the reason with myself, I may convince myself it is due to "psychological terror" on the part of the Watchtower Society or the elders.

It will be joy if for me God`s commandments and his will are beyond any human temptation and I look forward to God`s Kingdom with a "good conscience" and hope for and implore God`s seizure of power, just as we pray "? Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth." According to the "understanding of justification" of the Lutheran Church this "good conscience" is a gift of mercy by God which we cannot earn through "good works" - just like building up our assets in the bank by our deposits (good works) which even bear interest (compare 2Samuel 12:13).

I am also of the opinion that it is necessary to do something, that is personally turning to God (Hebrews 11:6) in faith and prayer. Part of this is faith in "Jesus Christ`s ransom sacrifice". God is waiting for our turning around. In Romans 2:13 (NWT) it says: "For the hearers of the law are not the ones righteous before God, but the doers of law will be declared righteous."

As Jehovah`s Witnesses understand it, this "good conscience" - a continual turning to God and Jesus Christ - must be preserved in thinking and action (Hebrews 10:36-39). Assuming "that a good conscience will always be a good conscience" is self-deception. Those who are under this misapprehension might fare with their allegedly "good conscience" like the contents of a freezer whose power supply is cut off.

The Hamburger Abendblatt maintained on July 28, 1996: "Life of people supporting this sect is not only marked by prohibitions but also by fear, for example fear of demons. Consequently, as studies show, it is not surprising that the number of people of this sect who become mentally ill is higher than average." Unfortunately the "studies" and their authors are not mentioned so that these statements are questionable.

It is obvious that in the undesirable trend of our society toward a self-sufficient human, self-determination is a top priority. Any demands for persistent compliance with given rules are rejected, no matter which institutions draw them up, even if these rules concern faithfulness in marriage. With people who cannot accept any rules, demands of this kind may lead to mental strain, mental disease or even suicide if - for whatever reason - these people go against their inner conviction. Inquiries at family, marriage, child and life guidance bureaus of every kind have confirmed this observation. Jehovah`s Witnesses, however, act with joy according to their inner conviction. Joy is the best protection against stress.

It is obvious that in the undesirable trend of our society toward a self-sufficient human, self-determination is a top priority. Any demands for persistent compliance with given rules are rejected, no matter which institutions draw them up, even if these rules concern faithfulness in marriage. With people who cannot accept any rules, demands of this kind may lead to mental strain, mental disease or even suicide if - for whatever reason - these people go against their inner conviction. Inquiries at family, marriage, child and life guidance bureaus of every kind have confirmed this observation. JJehovah`s Witnesses, however, act with joy according to their inner conviction. Joy is the best protection against stress.

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[1]Excerpt from the book Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1, p. 126: "Apostasy. This term in Greek (apostasia) comes from the verb aphistemi, literally meaning "stand away from". The noun has the sense of "desertion, abandonment or rebellion". (Acts 21:21, ftn) In classical Greek the noun was used to refer to political defection, and the verb is evidently employed in this sense at Acts 5:37, concerning Judas the Galilean who "drew off" (apestese, form of aphistemi) followers. The Greek Septuagint uses the term at Genesis 14:4 with reference to such a rebellion. However, in the Christian Greek Scriptures it is used primarily with regard to religious defection; a withdrawal or abandonment of the true cause, worship, and service of God, and hence an abandonment of what one has previously professed and a total desertion of principles or faith."