By Bridget Anderson
People were quite friendly to me. At least five people asked my name and introduced themselves. One lady got me a Watchtower and a song book to use.
I had a chance to talk with one lady more in depth before the meeting began. She seemed intrigued with the fact that I studied with JWs for six months, but then the study ended. I told her I really enjoyed the ladies, and enjoyed the study, as I really love theology and the Bible, and always have. But … well, we just really reached an impasse, so they decided not to go on. She cautiously asked me what the impasse was, saying she didn’t want to be nosy, but was very curious about this. I told her it was the issue about Jesus being Mediator only for the 144,000. She was shocked by this, saying she had been a JW for forty years, and did not understand this to be their teaching. I told her that the ladies responded the same way at first, but then checked it out, found it to be true, and then affirmed it to me, and seemed to be fine with it, because it was from the Slave. I told her I had the references from the WT on this, and she asked could she have them, so I told her I could get them from my car after the meeting, and she said that would be great. (Sadly I could not find her after the meeting, so bummer. But I did get talking to someone else at length, so maybe she needed to leave.)
The meeting itself was just as people have described them to me. There was a little “Bible talk” before the Watchtower study. It was about people in the Bible that were described as “perfect” or “blameless.” Job, Noah, Elizabeth, etc. The guy talking showed a wheel bearing and said it was perfect because it fulfilled the function it was supposed to do. So, it wasn’t perfect in the absolute sense, and that’s not what Jehovah requires. I found this very interesting, the emphasis on ‘perfection’ being less about character, and more about one’s ‘doing’ or ‘works’.
He went into a very long gloom and doom thing about the world conditions, as well as the “spiritual degradation of worldwide Babylonish religion.” References to the nastiness of every other group in the world excepting JWs were ubiquitous throughout his talk, as well as the subsequent Watchtower study. Evil Babylonish false religion, Christendom, goats, worldly people, etc. — I thought about what a contrast this is to Paul referring to himself as the chief of sinners, and thus the foremost example of the awesomeness of God’s grace in Christ, to not only redeem even him, but make him the Apostle of the Gentiles.
I chuckled to myself when this guy made a reference to an illustration used in a Watchtower of 20 years ago, and said remember this one? It just seemed kind of weird, I mean, does everyone memorize it?
The “When Will These Things Be” talk commenced. It was exactly as people have described it to me. Someone reads the Watchtower article word for word, then the question that goes with the paragraph is read, and people raise their hands to answer. They just answer for the most part, breading verbatim from the article. The microphone guy looked to be about 17, and seemed ecstatic about running around from one person to another to let them use the microphone when they were called on. His excitement seemed kind of weird and inexplicable to me. Is it really that fun? Is he like a star for doing that or something?
My impression of this particular WT study, being an outsider, was, wow, they sure taught a lot of wrong stuff! Imagine telling people authoritatively as God’s Channel, that Armageddon had begun already, but then in 1969 figuring out it was just alight misunderstanding. It must have been quite frightening to many people who already had a lot of problems and anxieties with WWI. — Comments seemed to come over and over from just a small group of people. — With so much ‘new light’, and it all being quite complex, I was amazed that the leader of the study didn’t ask at the end, does anyone have any questions? Nope, no chance to ask a question here. Maybe you could write to the Society, to the “questions from readers’ column. LOL. — I was dying to ask what the evidence was that Matthew 24 has any second fulfillment, in the light of this passage being appropriated by so many apocalyptic groups over the centuries as always applying to their time. Why does WT keep calling Christendom ‘false religion’ when clearly they have been teaching all this false stuff about prophecy in their past? — Also very apparent was the Scripture twisting method called “collapsing contexts”, connecting verses that are unrelated. It was quite a bit of jumping from one short Scripture “sound bite” to the next. As the study went on, I found it increasingly harder to follow or to stay focused.
It was really afar – out experience. This group is really what they say it is – a doomsday, apocalyptic cult. It’s like they almost can’t wait for Armageddon. Supposedly to vindicate Jehovah’s name, but I got the feeling it was really themselves they hope will be vindicated.
Things got even more interesting in my conversations afterward. I talked to the lady next to me a bit, just chatting at first. She thought I was a visiting “sister”, and I told her I was not a JW, but had studied with them in the past. So she asked me a few curious questions about that, which really heated up the discussion. I told her, as I had the previous lady, what the topic was that really became insurmountable during the study. That of Jesus being Mediator only for the 144,000. I mentioned that I am such a sinner, and feel I really need a Mediator between myself and Jehovah for that reason, and I believe it to be Jesus Himself, not any human organization. She also expressed shock, said she had never heard this, seemed skeptical that they taught this, etc. I shared a few Scriptures about Jesus inviting and beseeching us to come unto Himself, whereas the WT has stated “Come to Jehovah’s organization for salvation”, which to me seemed different from what Jesus was saying. She tried to say that didn’t Jehovah always have a group He used, to reach people , that you could find Him through, etc., like the Jews. I used this to explain to her how this is one of the ways in which the New Covenant is completely different than the Old Covenant, that we can come DIRECTLY and PERSONALLY to God through our High priest and Mediator Jesus. That the New Covenant was always prophesied to be ‘to the nations’ and is for all. I asked her if she was Jewish, of course she’s not, so she’s clearly not part of the Old Covenant, and I told her that most of the New Testament is specifically written to those in the New Covenant, who have been born again and redeemed by Jesus, and are indwelt by Him, so I don’t really know of any Scripture that would really apply to her directly. –She brought up Jesus saying “other sheep not of this fold” so I quoted to her from Ephesians, how God broke down the wall between the 2 groups , Jew and Gentile, and brought them together, making peace through the blood of His cross, making them into one unified Body, etc. She just looked kind of wide -eyed. I quoted to her John 3:3, emphasizing Jesus is saying you cannot even SEE the kingdom of God unless born again. She was able to come back with, you can’t see it because it’s an invisible kingdom in heaven.
I told her I had one more question for her, something that really mystified me in the Watchtower study, and that was referring to the United Nations as the ‘disgusting thing”. I told her this was surprising that they regard it this way, as I know that the Watchtower had joined the United Nations as a Nongovernmental Organization for almost 10 years in the 1990’s , but then disassociated as soon as this was exposed in a newspaper. She asked me where I got this information, and declared that so many say lots of false things about the Watchtower. I said it’s just a known fact, you can even call the United Nations and ask them, or research it however you like.
Somehow it got back to the study I had with the ladies. She asked me what did I learn from it, and I replied hmmmm, I learned that basically the things I had already learned about JW beliefs from other sources, were indeed true. I told her I enjoyed that time with the ladies, they were really nice, and I always love talking about the Bible and theology. I told her that I was saddened, though, that they were required to shun me after the study was over, since I am bad association. She kept her stony faced smile and composure when I was sharing this, but I wonder what she was really thinking .She didn’t deny that this is their policy, and way of describing other people, such as myself. I hope this gives her some slight thought, as to what it feels like as an outsider, to be on the receiving end of this.
Then, as I was walking out to the car, another lady called out Goodbye from her car, and I walked over to start a discussion with her. I said – wow, that was really some study, huh? She was like, yah, that was great. I replied – Wow, they sure taught a lot of wrong things for so long, didn’t they? — Then she goes into the spiel about increased understanding, and brighter light, refined understanding, etc. And how they are not inspired. We had an interesting conversation about what ‘inspired’ means, and I challenged her on this, as they use language that suggests what they teach is “from Jehovah” , they call themselves “channel of truth on earth”, and described past predictions as “the Creator’s promise’, which sounds pretty inspired to me. I mentioned about telling people Armageddon had begun, how scary, but then to say later, oh never mind – new understanding! — She tried to say it was like a doctor saying Lipitor would be good for you, but then he gets more information later, and changes his view. I said, this is false analogy, because doctors don’t claim to be God’s sole channel of truth on earth. — I gave her a short history lesson on the origins of the Society in the Millerite movement, and the 2 branches of Adventism that developed after the Great Disappointment of 1844. I mentioned how these Adventists also used ‘absolute truth from God you must accept’ language with their predictions, but then ‘new light’ and ‘increased understanding’ after the predictions failed. — I asked her what if someone before 1969 had gone around saying, based on the same Scriptural reasoning the Society is using now, that Armageddon did not begin in 1914, would this have been ok? I told her I knew that JWs MUST adhere to all the teachings as truth, even ones that will be changed later.