Saturday, November 4, 2017

Current work ...


Please read the article Human Teachers appearing in the June 1882 issue of Zion's Watch Tower. I will appreciate any observations no matter how simple. But I would like you to put this article in its context. We've discussed this for a few weeks [B and myself, that is.]. We will quote from it, but I'd like additional eyes to read it and minds to ponder it.

7 comments:

Andrew said...

My favorite part of the article is the 4th paragraph from the end. The one that begins "The true body of Christ is indeed ... ".

It reminds me that those who are teachers in the congregation are really the servants, and that the true head of the congregation is Christ, and not any person or group of persons. He points out that a collection of individuals can be united, even though they have no visible human leadership.

In the paragraph just above the one just referred to the writer points out his belief that many in other organizations are truly "sheep" even though they are not a part of the writer's organization. I think this inclusive and tolerant attitude is one for which Russell never gets enough credit.

Andrew

Gary said...

This is a difficult article to grasp and I can't exclude the possibility that I might be seeing the article through my modern eyes rather than the setting of the time (which I do not comprehend so easily). However, here goes.

The article is headed 'Human Teachers Necessary' but could have been headed 'Human Teachers Necessary, but ...' for it seems to warn readers not to be too trusting of impressive sounding teachers. Russell notes that those who God used as teachers in the early Christian Church were not selected because of their learning or worldly wisdom, nor because of their natural gifts, but primarily because of their whole hearted devotion and consecration (dedication) to accomplish God's purpose.

In contrast he comments that "The great worldly organizations, claiming the name of Christ, yet refusing his headship, leading and control, and the teachings of his word, has nothing in common with the real followers in Jesus' footsteps." He also notes that "They have large flocks but they are not all sheep. They have their teachers, but the time has come when these great flocks of nominal sheep will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own desires, they gather to themselves teachers having itching ears (for the world's applause) and they turn away their ears from the truth, and are turned unto fables."

The article does not comment on gifted teachers belonging to other faiths who were genuine in their love for God. When the time would come I suspect that Russell was confident however, that those whose consecration to God was genuine (including religious teachers) would, sooner or later, naturally want to flee from organisations that failed to respect Christ's headship.

Anonymous said...

Teachers are necessary but not all can be teachers. All are ministers to preach.

Other words that stood out:
Other good positions with honor
Active office
Real members
Real body
Basis of all promotion
Faithfulness - use present abilities
Contributions
Promoted to become dispenser of spiritual things

Semer said...

The general impression after reading the article is that the movement was developing its own identity and certain degree of organization.
It is evident their rejection of a clergy, each member is a minister, but apparently the group was growing, and Russell (I assume he is the author) wanted to persuade the different groups to choose their own teachers. His emphasis on the lack of education of first century teachers might be a way to encourage potential teachers not to withdraw, or a way to stress that those teachers wouldn't be clerics. At the same time, as if to avoid a cleric mentality, he stresses that all positions are honorable.
I find interesting the fact that the article not only mentions a real body of Christ -in contrast to Babylon, I understand-, but also real members. In contrast to what? Perhaps the author had in mind the possibility that some members of the groups of Watch Tower readers were not totally committed, being still part of church organizations or being undecided between Russell's and Barbour's groups.

jerome said...

A few thoughts on the article:

CTR stresses that the concept of clergy and laity is wrong, that all true Christians have ministerial responsibilities – quote “we believe that every consecrated member of the body of Christ is a MINISTER in some sense, and all are" anointed to preach the glad tidings."

Nonetheless the group of true Christians is small - (quote) “the real members of the real body are very few.” Within this arrangement, while it is (quote) “a visible company with no visible head” some do have special responsibilities because (quote) “God is still pleased to use some such channels through whom the whole body is to be blessed and edified” and (another quote) “it is still being blessed with members specially used to unfold to it the prophecies and dark-sayings, and to direct it to the meat in due season."

CTR doesn’t directly say it, but by publishing ZWT he sincerely believed he was being used in this role.

He also made a reference to readers making monetary contributions towards the work, quoting 1 Cor 16:2; 2 Cor 8:1-8 and 9:1-9 as authority for this position. (Quote) “Again let none despise his office of Steward of this world's goods. If this is your opportunity use well your office, and perhaps you will be promoted by our head and become a dispenser of spiritual things.”

So if you voluntarily use your worldly goods to further the cause, you may in time be used to dispense spiritual things. This of course is exactly what CTR had been doing with his personal material assets.

Semer said...

“God is still pleased to use some such channels through whom the whole body is to be blessed and edified” and “it is still being blessed with members specially used to unfold to it the prophecies and dark-sayings, and to direct it to the meat in due season."
Do you think he was indirectly talking about himself, or about the human teachers needed in the congregations (or classes)?

jerome said...

To Semer

His words could include both, although if the members are "specially used to unfold to it the prophecies" etc. there would need to be some unity of thought in the classes for that to happen, which ZWT magazine would increasingly influence. So personally I believe CTR had his own role in mind. That is not intended as a criticism in any way - he honestly and sincerely believed he was being used by God.