07 April 2017

The Watchtower Society versus Orthodox Sacralism

I've said it before and it saddens me, but the Watchtower Society has more of the type of testimony the Church should have. Pressure is growing on them in Russia but for the right reasons. They're feeling the beginnings of persecution for their doctrinal witness and life... not because they're connected to Western values and the agendas of Washington and Wall Street.
They are hated because they reject nationalism, they refuse to be involved in civics and the military and they raise their children to be 'other' than that which the increasingly Sacralist Russian state would want them to be.

Do they destroy families? They do from an Orthodox point of view. They bring division and teach people to question the Orthodox norm. Converted Jehovah's Witnesses don't participate in Orthodox life anymore. This to a certain extent divorces them from the mainstream of Russian life.
It's called antithesis... something Dominionist dominated American Evangelicalism knows almost nothing about.
We're told their actions and antithesis foster hatred.  Basically that's hyperbole for rejecting nationalism, not showing a proper love of country and tribe. I am amazed to find a growing number of Evangelicals and Confessionalists making Scripture-twisting arguments and appeals to romanticised cultural history in order to promote and defend nationalism.  While it has never been a problem for American Evangelicals, there's a greater impetus to promote this in light of the culture wars. It's also growing among European Evangelicals, something all but unknown a generation ago.
The Jehovah's Witnesses threatens lives...
That the old charge that's always been brought against dissidents by pagan and Constantinian states.  The 'heretics' are accused of murder in the night, sexual abuse and/or whatever else is needed to stir up public sentiment against them.
If the Watchtower folks are smart they won't rely on Amnesty International and will avoid appeal to NGO's. It will not aid them to be perceived as allied to the West. And increasingly as everyone seems to know (except the American public) the NGO's are tools and arms of Western governments.
Russian Sacralism won't stand for their message and presence but if they're viewed as Western proxies, they will move to destroy them.
Historically the Jehovah's Witnesses have avoided such entanglements. Frankly their testimony in this regard puts Evangelicals to shame.
Evangelicals are perceived as Western proxies and sad to say there are occasions it is probably with some reason. And Evangelicals all too often are quick to listen to their Western brethren and rally the forces of the American Empire to come to their aid. The normal Evangelical response to worldly pressure is to call on the lawyers, courts and the Pentagon.
Russia's resurgent Oriental Sacralism is self-defeating. By seeking to create a monistic society, they actually breed dissonance.
I'm sorry to defend Jehovah's Witnesses but at the end of the day I don't want to see them persecuted either. Though I think they're wrong and want to see them as individuals break with the Watchtower Society, I would not for any reason wish them to embrace the legacy of Constantinople.

Despite their core errors which are grievous to be sure, they have many peripheral issues right. Their 'Church' life, sense of purpose and mission often outstrips that of Evangelicalism. But without the foundation stone of the Gospel, it is all built on sand.


  1. I don't know Russian history incredibly well, but I'm wondering if this is either a new move for the creation of the Eurasian Empire, something Russian Idealists began to promote in the late 19th and early 20th century, or this is merely an expression of the traditional doctrine. If the latter, which was less about monism, and more about rightly governing a multi-confessional state (from the vantage of an Orthodox Monarch and an Orthodox church), then I'm not sure about your commentary and whether this is about an attempt to enforce orthodox monopolization. There are plenty of Baptists running around, and while I see pressure for Orthodoxy to drive them out in terms of an interconfessional battle, I've not seen this sort of thing. Is it hard to believe the JW might in fact be a pernicious cult, at least in Russia (though I've heard stories from the US)?

    This is the hard place between religious pluralism and the civil government's ability to prosecute evil-doers. Granted, the US has its establishment cults and its weirdo cults that it breaks with a sledgehammer; the Moonies and Scientology get a pass, but the Branch Davidians got obliterated. In the end it becomes to ability to manage public image, levels and types of evil, and campaign funds, all of which has nothing to do with justice. But I'm not sure what to think when these cults are broken: rejoice for the chance at freedom for those within? somberly reflect that 'but for the grace of God, go I?' and see it all as a vicious cycle? Both?

    This is a place where we have some divergent opinions, and I know we read our Bibles differently. But I strain to believe that this is merely Russian Orthodox sacralism rearing its ugly head. I know you do not believe the JWs Christians (as do I). Perhaps sadly, I think there's more a chance that there will be some mild form of justice from a Russian court over what one would find in an American one.

    But in the end, as you say, the Evangelicals adoption of blood-and-soil type nationalist bigotry is disgusting and shameful. And yet, it makes perfect sense, and I can support it, as an antithesis to the neo-liberal globalist mentality one also finds among Evangelical leaders as well. Both are pernicious errors that are hurtling America (and the American church as long as it is wed to these) into oblivion.

  2. Here's a related NYT article.

    and BBC

    Clearly this is part of a pattern of laws meant to show state favour and preference for the Orthodox


    1. Well, of course I'd expect NYT and BBC to show how the Russians look absolutely brutal and backwards in doing this. I don't mean to sound the slavophile, but I have no confidence that any of these reports accurately assess the what and why of this sort of thing.

      But yes, its always been state favoritism of the Orthodox church, that wasn't in dispute, but rather what this state support means. It does not necessarily mean a sacralist crackdown, that seems to be too flat of a reading.

    2. To clarify: I am assessing this at the level of civil polity. I'm not endorsing the role Russian Orthodoxy has in this as a church of Christ.

      But while I might not agree with Russian Orthodoxy's relation between church and nation, I understand the Russian patriarch's actions over the past years. As you already mentioned, American-based Protestants and sects have been, or are at least perceived to be, 5th column. But then there's the corruption within Orthodoxy more generally. Freemasonry snakes its way through Greek Orthodoxy and in, and around, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople. I'm not saying this because of belief in lizard-people or NWO, but the Western networks and ideas it plugs into. This, I think, is the main reason why Moscow, and affiliated autocephalous churches, did not attend the council on Crete; it was a set up. It's funny because there are forces in Orthodoxy that want to make the Ecumenical Patriarch a Pope like figure, a binding center to hold all of Orthodoxy together. Of course, while Popes still have integrity in that they need to be corrupted and conclate manipulated, it seems the ecumenical patriarchate, and surrounding powers, is already cut through with neo-liberal interests and would function as a whip to control the faithful.

      For all its problems, I think the Russian Orthodox church has some integrity; I do not see it merely as a creature of the state or of Putin.

    3. Further Clarification: When I say popes have integrity, what I meant was that institutionally it has its own feet to stand on, rather than being merely a creature of some intelligence network or state department. I'm not saying that popes, or the papacy, are morally sound, just, or possessing theological conviction.

  3. Doesn't bode well does it?

    The Interfax news agency on Thursday quoted justice ministry attorney Svetlana Borisova in court as saying that the Jehovah’s Witnesses “pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security”.


  4. This is tragic and sadly it sounds like the situation in Kazakhstan is also getting bad. While I can't go along with the Watchtower doctrine, I empathise with many of their ethical choices and sense of antithesis vis-à-vis the world.

    If Bible Believing Christians were actually following Scripture when it comes to social ethics they would be experiencing the same treatment.