Thursday, November 17, 2005

Is It Proper and Loving to Judge Others as Being Apostate?

On the matter of judging others: It is somewhat dismaying that apparently even some of Jehovah's Witnesses suppose that the Bible's injunction against judging our brothers somehow applies in the case of those who would mislead us. That is a wrong application of a biblical principle. For example, in the very same sermon where Jesus told us not to judge our brother or presume to extract the splinter of fault in our brother's eye, Jesus also warned us to be on guard against those who would defraud us of our faith, saying at Matthew 7:15: "Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to you in sheep's covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will recognize them."

Jesus' graphic illustration ought to help us appreciate the fact that spiritual predators may be very hard to recognize as such. They may appear to be genuine Christians—but appearances can be very deceiving. But, how is it possible to ever "recognize them" without using our faculty of judgment? It is not possible. The very act of identifying a wolf in sheepskin is to judge that one. Not only is it our right to make judgments in these matters, it is also the moral obligation of good watchmen and shepherds to sound the alarm when there is clear evidence that proves a wolf has donned a sheep's cloak and is on the prowl among the flock. Why should any clear-thinking Christian even question the appropriateness of that?

Secondly, some readers have expressed indignation that myself and others have cited Robert King by name. But, there is no impropriety in that. Robert King is a well-known public figure—at least among Jehovah's Witnesses.

Besides, in the 1st Century the apostle Paul named the names of those who were notorious in wrecking the faith of fellow believers. For instance, in his 2nd letter to Timothy, Paul mentioned Hymenaeus and Philetus by name, saying of them: "These very men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred; and they are subverting the faith of some." Was Paul judging them? Yes, of course he was. But, he rightly judged them on the basis of the criteria Christ laid down for us—by their fruits. The fruitage that allowed Paul to recognize those men for what they were was that they were "subverting the faith of some."

Jesus also named names. In the 2nd chapter of Revelation, Jesus actually commended the brothers in Ephesus because they hated the deeds of the sect of Nicolaus. Jesus said to them: "Still, you do have this, that you hate the deeds of the sect of Nicolaus, which I also hate. Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations." Conversely, Jesus rebuked those in the Pergamum congregation who were "holding fast the teaching of the sect of Nicolaus."

We are not told anything about the man Nicolaus. Perhaps he was not even personally a member of either congregation. Neither are we told anything about the teaching of Nicolaus and why Jesus hated the deeds of his followers. But, evidently the sect of Nicolaus was not a stand-alone sect as we might think of a sect today as being; but rather, the sect of Nicolaus evidently operated as a sub-sect, submerged within the congregations back then. Likely the sect of Nicolaus accepted much of the teachings of the apostles but differed only in a few key doctrines—or perhaps just one. At any rate, the sect posed a very real spiritual danger to Christ's congregation. But, the point is: How would it be possible for the Ephesians to "hate the deeds of the sect of Nicolaus" without also judging Nicolaus as an enemy of the truth?

Paul similarly instructed Christians to reject any man who promotes a sect, saying: "As for a man that promotes a sect, reject him after a first and a second admonition; knowing that such a man has been turned out of the way and is sinning, he being self-condemned." (Titus 3:10-11)

Does the act of rejecting a man involve judging him? Yes, of course it does. But in the case of a promoter of a sect, Paul said that such an individual is self-condemned. So, rather than making our own judgments in such matters, it is merely a matter of accepting the judgment that is self-evident.

Now, the question: Is Robert King a promoter of a sect? Yes, absolutely! Why can we say that? Because Robert King promotes teachings that run counter to the truth that is held in common by Christ's anointed congregation. Just as Jesus condemned those who were "holding fast the teaching of the sect of Nicolaus," so too, the followers of Robert King holds fast to unbiblical teachings.

Those who embrace such teachings may be said to hold fast to the teachings of the sect of Robert King.

Paul said in reference to Hymenaeus and Philetus: "Their word will spread like gangrene." How true that has been of Robert King's words as well. Like the 1st Century Cretins, King's teachings have also subverted the faith of entire households of Jehovah's Witnesses. For a certainty, the teachings of King are truly comparable to a rapidly spreading, gangrenous, faith-destroying cancer.

Judging by the end results of Robert King's writings, namely the stumbling of many of Jehovah's Witnesses and interested persons; we may rightly judge Robert King as a promoter of a sect and an enemy of the truth. As Jesus said, "by their fruits"—and the fruits of King's teaching is demonstrably rotten!

No doubt, the Devil would prefer that Jehovah's Witnesses today would suspend their God-given powers of judgment under the rubric of not judging our brother. However, it is our right and obligation to judge such a man. Moreover, we may also expect to hear Christ's eventual commendation for hating the deeds of the sect of Robert King.

If someone were to purposefully dump a vat of cyanide into a city's drinking water, would it be unfair to judge that person as to their motive? By the same measure, when a man of King's stature in the organization writes books directed to Jehovah's Witnesses and a large percentage of those who read his writings are stumbled, many ceasing to continue as Jehovah's Witnesses, we are left with only two conclusions: One, the writer knows full well the result his writings will have on others. Or two: He is stupid and does not realize the effect of his influence. Personally, I do not think Robert King is stupid.

I am not saying that Robert King ever advised Jehovah's Witnesses to leave the Watchtower. He is much too clever for that. But, if you look at the end result of his teaching, and the faith-destroying effect his writings have upon the reader, then it is obvious what he is all about. II Peter the 2nd chapter warns us, the same as Jesus warned us, that there will be false teachers in our midst. The 3rd verse says that "they will exploit you with counterfeit words."

A person may unknowingly accept counterfeit currency because they are unable to detect the fraud, but that does not mean that they are genuinely enriched and can use the currency themselves. They are stuck with it—to their loss. By the same token, those who accept "counterfeit words" from the smooth-talkers may imagine them to be genuine words of faith. However, we can no more benefit from false words than we can pass counterfeit currency with impunity. The end result is spiritual ruination. Obviously, many believe that Robert King is the genuine article, but, like Jesus said: "By the fruits you will recognize those men."

The letter of Jude is very similar to the 2nd chapter of II Peter and it relates that the false teachers are "the ones that make separations, animalistic men, not having spirituality." Now, ask yourself: Have the writings of Robert King caused "separations"? Without a doubt, yes they have.

Just like unreasoning animals, animalistic men also instinctively know the weaknesses and fears of others. They know that if they can subtly create enough doubt within a person's mind, then their faith will give way and they will have their intended prey. The victim may not even know he has been devoured.

Why would you defend anyone who knowingly stumbles others out of the truth?

Ultimately, who we choose now for our guide will determine whether we reach our goal of salvation or not. The Bible advises that we keep focused on God's prophetic word until the daystar arises in our hearts. During the darkest hours of the end of the world we may expect the sealed sons of the kingdom to shine as brightly as the stars of heaven and lead God's people to life. Contrasted with that, Jude describes the animalistic misleaders of God's people as lost stars hurtling into eternal blackness.

You would do well to seriously reflect upon the course Robert King has provided by his pattern and decide if you really want to follow his wandering star into oblivion.

I must admit I am a plagiarist. The above words are not mine (except for the title). They were written by Robert King before he was disfellowshipped about Ray Franz. I merely substituted Robert King's name for Ray Franz.