Q: A witch hunt is going on here. Some brothers are accused of apostasy. And you guessed it - they are not *real* apostates, just confused about some things and teachings as me and you. One of them was disfellowshiped this week . . . and I guess there will be others. . . What a crazy time this is, hopefully Jesus is coming soon to cleanse Jehovah's people. 

A: Once we get to clearly understand that we are Jehovah's people and that Jehovah's prophecies, addressed to "my people", indeed apply to us and not Christendom, we should expect the developments as we are now seeing within the many congregations. You know, when I first came to understand this simple truth in the mid Nineties, I had a very hard time seeing the Governing Body members and other leaders within the organization in the way that Jehovah describes in his prophecies. (Ezek. 7:8-10; 13:8-10; Zech. 10:3) I was making excuses for them, thinking that they could not possibly be that bad for they had good intentions and were taking the lead in helping us worship Jehovah, even if they did make some mistakes. After all, did I not learn the truth from them? But because of what is written in the prophecies regarding God's people and their leaders I eventually came to expect certain developments that were not so obvious to me at that time.

The Society had been wrong about their expectations regarding 1975. That was not a little insignificant error for many of Jehovah's servants who had put their trust in their prediction ended up being hurt, spiritually and emotionally, and some even financially ruined, having sold all their possessions in order to pioneer for a couple of years, as they expected the end to come shortly. As a result many, yes many, of our brothers and sisters abandoned Jehovah's worship, having been stumbled, and many broken marriages resulted. I am familiar with quite a few of such ones. Now, in the case of those responsible for having sown these false expectations and the resulting consequences, did they feel any shame or guilt? Concerning them Jehovah's words apply just as surely as it did to the leaders in Jeremiah's day,

From the prophet even to the priest, each one is acting falsely. And they try to heal the breakdown of my people lightly, saying, ‘There is peace! There is peace!’ when there is no peace. Did they feel shame because it was something detestable that they had done? For one thing, they positively do not feel any shame; for another thing, they have not come to know even how to feel humiliated. Therefore they will fall among those who are falling; in the time that I must hold an accounting with them they will stumble," Jehovah has said. −Jeremiah 6:13-15.

If they truly are as humble as they profess themselves to be then they would have felt humiliated and humbly acknowledged their culpability in having caused such great grief to so many, and also moved to take a closer look at their many other teachings and interpretations, seeing where else they may be out of harmony with the Scriptures, and be willing to make any necessary adjustments. That is what Jehovah would rightly expect from them. But instead, the Governing Body became even more entrenched in their authority over God's people in order to safeguard their position and credibility. In fact, in September of 1980 there was a letter sent out to all Circuit and District overseers by the Governing Body with a new definition for what an “apostate” is, someone who simply believes something that differs from the teachings of the organization, and this could be grounds for taking judicial action against him. That means for example, had the new definition of an apostate been in place before 1975 anyone who questioned their interpretation of the significance of that year could have been accused of apostasy. Yet, clearly, it would have been the "apostates" who would have been right. Although this new definition has not officially appeared in any of our publications, many congregations are feeling the effects of it since many of the brothers are being disfellowshipped simply for having "apostate thoughts." This has now resulted in a "witch hunt" as you note, in many congregations, and it would not be possible if the GB was not in agreement with it. (This information can be viewed on Wikipedia, the Internet Encyclopedia)

You know, these developments within God's household are to be expected for the Scriptures have foretold them. Many of the brothers do not understand the significance of what is happening within their congregations because we have been taught to apply the prophecies to the churches of Christendom. Jesus foretold regarding the slaves that were appointed to feed the domestics of his household, that when he arrives at a time we do not think likely he would find some of them in the act of beating their fellow slaves, the sheep they were appointed to care for and protect. "In the time that [Jehovah] must hold an accounting with them," they will be confronted and dismissed, meaning they will be punished with the greatest severity, (“cut in two”, as it is worded in the Greek). Yes, they will lose out on their heavenly reward that they would have had had they been found faithful. (Matt. 24:44, 48-51)

The sad thing in all of this at the present time is that the Society, in having set themselves up as a worldly corporation within God's household, has not allowed us any other means by which we can worship Jehovah and have a full share in the preaching work. If we can even fathom this, the very ones who have been anointed by Jehovah for the sake of caring for his people and help them in their worship of him, are now making it impossible for the many who have doubts about their infallibility to do so. In a very real sense they have become "masters over your faith." (2 Cor. 1:24) In this regard Isaiah wrote, "O Jehovah our God, other masters besides you have acted as owners of us." But the time is fast approaching when the rest of that verse will be fulfilled, "By you only shall we make mention of your name." Jehovah our God will "annihilate them and destroy all mention of them," and then his people will be able to worship him in the way he provided for them, "with spirit and truth," with "no one to make them tremble."  (Isaiah 26:13,14; Ezek. 39:25-27; John 4:24)

My brother phoned me the other day to tell me that in his congregation the Circuit Overseer is cracking down on the brothers who have low monthly hours in the ministry, that is, they are below congregation average. They are losing all "privileges" within the congregation such as handling the microphone or reading the Watchtower at the Watchtower Study. His son just lost his privileges and he is quite upset over it as he is doing what he can under his circumstances. Sadly, such ones are made to feel that they are not doing enough for Jehovah, not measuring up to his strict requirements for everlasting life and thus get disheartened, with some eventually giving up altogether on themselves.

May you hold on to your integrity and not allow anyone to separate you from your love for Jehovah and his Son, for there is no one that can separate us from the love that Jehovah has for us. (Romans 8:35-39) Keep your faith strong as there are blessings in store for all who wait on Jehovah, even if in silence. Be careful not to give the brothers who are on a witch hunt any excuse to claim you as their prey. All these developments are evidence that the master is near, and before he executes judgment upon his household he must first expose the bad conditions within it and all those responsible for it. (see Jeremiah 5:26,30,31; Matt. 13:40-43; 1 Peter 4:17-19)