Pick any religious organization and you will find that they have former members. Many likely have weighed such a decision with much prayer and have followed the dictates of their conscience. Many groups allow people to leave without repercussions, without demanding that members shun the leavetaker, or castigating them.
However, there are some groups where leaving has very serious consequences. Friends, even family, are instructed to have no dealings with former members. This is not only true of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but of the Latter Day Saints(Mormons), the Unification Church(Moonies), and Scientology, to name a few. In each case, former members are vilified and spoken of disparagingly.
One of the most disparaging remarks the Watchtower has made about former members is the label “mentally diseased”. Are former members of this group mentally diseased? Is “mental diseased” a fair translation of 1 Timothy 6:4? Who is this passage speaking of? What modern applications can be made?
Jude 8 mentions those “speaking abusively of glorious ones.” In verse 11, he compares such individuals to Korah, who rebelled against Moses in the wilderness.
Today, some have made modern application of the Glorious Ones to congregation elders and other higher-up individuals within the Watchtower hierarchy. Any who have questioned or criticized the decisions of these imperfect men have been compared to Korah.
However, is this application valid? What did Jude mean when he spoke of the Glorious Ones? Who specifically was he comparing to Korah?
Hebrews 13:17 did speak of obedience toward those taking the lead in the first century. However, was this obedience unconditional? Were their teachings and actions to be accepted without question? Were those taking the lead above criticism? Is criticism the same as “speaking abusively”?
The pain of losing friends and family is intense…as anyone who has ever been shunned can attest. For one’s loved ones to treat them as though dead, a non-person, not so much as a hello, has led some to suicide.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do as they are taught by their leadership. But they are not the only group that shuns former members: Scientology, Mormons, Moonies, and other high control groups also practice this as well.
The Watchtower Society teaches that shunning is what God commands through the Bible. Thus, the argument is framed that to be loyal to God one must shun those that the Organization directs you to shun.
However, does the Bible support such extreme practices? These two videos make an examination of the common prooftexts of 2 John 10 and 1 Corinthians 5:11 in the proper context.
The Watchtower mentions ‘apostates’ quite often, as do groups such as the Mormons, Scientology, and the Moonies—but how many times does the word apostate or apostasy actually appear in the New Testament? The results may be very surprising.
A common prooftext about ‘apostates’ is Proverbs 11:9, which says in the New World Translation: “By his mouth the apostate brings his neighbor to ruin, but by knowledge the righteous are rescued.”
Did you know only the NWT uses the word ‘apostate’ here? Why is this? Hopefully the above video will be enlightening.
If there is one word that strikes needless fear into the heart of our dear loved ones who are Jehovah’s Witness, it is the word ‘apostate’.
Who are apostates? According to talks such as the one at the 2013 District Convention, “Beware of Human Apostates”, they rank one notch below Satan the Devil himself. They are mentally diseased antichrists intent on deceiving you and destroying your faith. However, such a thing could not be further from the truth.
Who are apostates? They are your neighbors.
According to the dictionary, an apostate is simply a person who leaves a religion, any religion. Many people, of all religions, do this. By definition, a person who leaves a religion to become a Jehovah’s Witness is an apostate. Therefore, there is nothing mysterious or sinister about apostates. They are not boogeymen plotting your doom…they are simply everyday people who had a change of heart.