False Shepherds Wail
THE clergy of Christendom have arrogated to themselves the role of shepherds of their flocks. Neglecting to feed the sheep, they wail when they note Jehovah’s true shepherds feeding the sheeplike ones, for it means a spoiling of their pastures. An illustration of this is the following experience that took place in a town in New York state the latter part of 1955.
The wife had been studying with Jehovah’s witnesses intermittently for some time, but the husband only for a few weeks, when they wrote their Lutheran pastor that they wanted to become Jehovah’s witnesses. Thereupon he made a call and for two hours vainly tried to make them change their minds. At his instance a meeting was arranged with the witnesses and the subject of the trinity was discussed.
At its conclusion the husband said to his pastor: “Mr. B————, the first round goes to the witnesses. I never really knew what the trinity was, and now that I do, I know it doesn’t make sense.” The pastor replied: “Of course it doesn’t make sense. But when the Bible doesn’t make sense, neither should we.”
It was agreed to have another discussion the following week on the subject of hell. However, he later phoned saying he would not be able to keep the appointment but would be glad to come the next week and bring a friend along. In the meantime the witnesses, by means of a Lutheran Cyclopedia, posted themselves on just what the Lutheran theologians did teach on various religious subjects. The following week the pastor came with not just one friend, but two, both of whom were also clergymen, one of whom seemed to have more authority than the others.
During the discussion of hell the question came up as to whether or not hell’s fire was literal. The one with more authority stressed that it was literal, hell was a hot place. When he was shown that the Lutheran Cyclopedia held that the fire was not literal he became very angry and endeavored to deny that he had said it was really hot in hell.
Next the subject of the end of the world came up. The clergymen held that it would be literally destroyed and cited as proof 2 Peter 3:10. As the witnesses had found that Lutheran dogmaticians disagreed with one another on the subject, some, such as Gerhardt, Quenstedt and Calov, holding that the earth would be literally destroyed, whereas others, such as Luther himself and Brenz, held that only the form of this earth would pass away, the clergymen were asked with which group they agreed. “With Luther, of course!” was the reply.
When it was pointed out that Luther did not believe the literal earth would be destroyed and that Lutheran theologians were divided on the subject, they insisted that their Cyclopedia, said no such things, and upon being shown in black and white they endeavored to misconstrue the plain statements. Clearly they had not been aware of this disagreement among their own theologians. One of them, losing his temper, leaned across the table and shouted that it was ridiculous for ignorant laymen to tell them what they believed, etc.
The husband countered by saying that the beliefs of Jehovah’s witnesses made more sense. At this point one of the clergymen sneered: “You, with your stupid, lousy little minds, must jam all the scriptures together so they make sense. That is the most stupid and lousy doctrine I ever heard.”
In the course of the evening’s discussion the clergymen said that God was frustrated because all are not going to be saved even though he would like them to be. When the time came for them to leave the one seemingly with more authority got up and said: “I just have this to say, this has been the most disgusting, most disappointing night of my life, and if I had known it would be like this I would never have come.” After some further remarks on the subject of hell the other two clergymen also left.
The couple rejoiced over the victory the truth had gained. Since then they are having an ever-increasing share in preaching the good news of the Kingdom and are feeding regularly at Jehovah’s table spread for them at the local Kingdom Hall.
“Hark, the cry of the shepherds, and the wail of the lords of the flock! For the LORD is despoiling their pasture.” Truly those prophetic words of Jeremiah, written some twenty-five centuries ago, are finding fulfillment in our day.—Jer. 25:36, RS.