Reasoning with Jehovah's Witnesses
Before getting into the Scripture study itself, let me explain briefly how "Reasoning with Jehovah's Witnesses" came about.
I was raised with very little religious background. My parents were nominal Christians, and as a child I attended church (Baptist) only once, when I was about 12 years old.
In high school I began to question some of the larger issues in life, and this led to an intense interest in the supernatural. In college I became involved with various Eastern teachings, including yoga and Transcendental Meditation.
After a year of practicing TM, I began studying the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses. My brother had been contacted in their door-to-door work and he soon had me studying with them too. I studied with the Witnesses for 3 1/2 years, and was baptized in the spring of 1981.
During my 7-year involvement with the Witnesses, I attended 5 meetings at the Kingdom Hall each week, participated in the Theocratic Ministry School, and was active in the door-to-door preaching work. For the last 3 1/2 years, in which I was a dedicated, baptized Jehovah's Witness, I was never "irregular" in field service. I never let a month go by without sharing in the witnessing work.
As a Witness I also spent quite a bit of time reading the Bible. Though the only translation I could "understand" was the Watchtower Society's own New World Translation, I read it through four times, and read the New Testament through eight times. This Bible reading led to some serious problems.
I began to question first of all my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. From reading the New Testament, I could see that the first-century disciples had an intimacy with their Lord that I had great difficulty in relating to. I was told that this was because I was of the "great crowd" of "other sheep," and that only those of the "anointed" rightly had such a relationship with Jesus, as members of the bride of Christ. In fact, I was taught that the entire New Testament was not written to me, and that I was not under the new covenant. I had no mediator between God and myself, but received blessings from Jehovah by associating with His "earthly organization."
By the summer of 1984, these questions were increasing both in frequency and in intensity. Was the "great crowd" of Revelation chapter 7 really on earth, or was it in heaven? Did Christ really return invisibly in 1914? Was the Watchtower Society really "God's organization?"
As I went from door to door, I would occasionally meet persons who identified themselves as "born again" Christians. Though my "superior" Bible knowledge told me that only 144,000 Christians were to be born again, and that the 9000 present-day members of the "anointed remnant" were all Jehovah's Witnesses, still these "born agains," as we called them, were an interesting sort of people. I can recall twelve instances when they actually took the initiative in witnessing to me. They would ask me whether or not I was "saved." They would say that the shed blood of Christ was wholly sufficient for the justification of every believer. They would tell me that I did not need to add to the work of Christ by performing all sorts of good works. They would say that if I would accept Jesus Christ by faith as my all-sufficient Lord and Savior, He would come into my heart and I would know that I had been saved.
But to my way of thinking, these "born again" Christians were probably either emotionally deranged or demon possessed. They believed that Jesus was God. They believed in the Trinity. They believed in a hellfire of eternal torment. They believed that Jesus was going to appear visibly and all "born again" Christians would then be taken up bodily to meet Him in the air. These ideas were repugnant to my "Bible-trained" mind.
But still I could not escape the gnawing questions that kept surfacing in my own faith. So in August of 1984, I took a radical step. I decided to undergo a thorough, systematic, and objective Bible study of my own, without the use of Watchtower Society publications. My conviction was that if the Watchtower Society was in fact God's organization, Jehovah God Himself would show this to me plainly and clearly through an honest study of His word. Jesus had promised that the Spirit of truth would lead Christians into all the truth (John 16:13). I believed this promise, and set out to prove to myself once and for all who God was, who His people were, and what His will was for me.
The first problem I encountered in my study was that I had no idea how to study the Bible objectively. As Jehovah's Witnesses, our Bible studies consisted solely of reading paragraphs in portions of the Society's literature, asking and answering questions at the bottoms of the pages, and looking up the cited Scriptures. I obviously could not use this method in an objective study. Knowing no other study method, I had to invent my own.
What I decided to do initially was to read through an independent translation of the New Testament and write down every Scripture that didn't seem to fit my present understanding of the Bible. I did this, using the New American Standard version, and came up with about 200 Scripture verses. I then compiled these Scriptures into approximately 50 different topics: deity of Christ, personality of the Holy Spirit, the great crowd, the 144,000, 1914, the rapture, hellfire, how to be saved, relationship with Christ, who is to be born again, assurance of salvation, etc.
After reading through what I had compiled, the gravity of what I had just done hit me like a ton of bricks. I had now totally destroyed my dearly held convictions concerning God, His people, the outworking of His plan of salvation, and my place in this whole affair! I was now completely and utterly lost!
Three things I knew, however. I knew that God had inspired the Bible. I knew that He had people on this earth who worshiped Him in spirit and in truth, in accordance with an accurate understanding of the Bible. And I knew that God cared for us, and that He had sent His beloved Son to die for us. This was enough to convince me that God would hold true to His promise to lead me into all the truth.
In deep prayer I pleaded with the only God, Jehovah, to explain to me what He had written in His word. I asked Him to reveal Himself to me in a very personal way, and I asked Him to reveal what His understanding was on each of these 50 Bible subjects. I vowed that should He save me from this terrible state of confusion, all praise and honor would go to Him. And I trusted that God was faithful, and that He would see me through this most difficult time.
I reread the New Testament, this time using the Revised Standard Version. As I read, I wrote down every Scripture that was applicable to each of the 50 Bible subjects, regardless of the view it seemed to uphold. I then repeated this procedure twice more, using the New International Version and again the New American Standard version. By this time I had amassed approximately 800 Scripture verses, and felt satisfied that I had accumulated enough information on which to base conclusions to each of the subjects in question.
The conclusions came very slowly at first. But one by one the humanized doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses were replaced in my mind and heart by the true knowledge of God. Time after time I was compelled to yield to the Holy Spirit as He performed His extraordinary work. And I remember so clearly the momentous day in October while on a business trip in Los Angeles, when I first realized that I was probably going to become a born-again Christian. In the midst of all the intellectual and emotional torment I was experiencing at this time, it was a wonderful comfort to sense that Jesus was waiting for me somehow on the other side. But all things had to be done honestly and rationally.
During this four-month period of intensive study, though I was working full time and spending from four to fourteen hours each day in personal study, I still attended nearly all of the required meetings at the Kingdom Hall. I wanted to leave nothing that could be pointed to by the Witnesses as the reason for my "falling away." Also, for fear of bringing reproach upon "God's organization," I spoke to no one during this time about the questions I was having, except my brother Steve (a Bethelite at Watchtower Farms in Wallkill, New York) and the elders of my congregation in Hyde Park, New York.
I met with the elders of my local congregation four times during this period. They did not condemn my studying the Bible on my own, but recommended that I get the study done quickly. As things progressed, they became a bit more disturbed, and had a very difficult time dealing with the questions that I was raising concerning the deity of Christ, the year 1914, our personal relationship with Christ, etc. They refused to look at the thick stack of study notes that I had compiled. Still, these men were sincerely trying to help me as best they could, and I have no negative feelings toward them whatsoever.
The last month or so of meetings at the Kingdom Hall was very intense. My heart was on fire! I often wanted to get up out of my seat and silence the blasphemy that was being presented to the congregation from the platform. And it made me sick to think that I would probably never have the opportunity of sharing with my dear friends the true gospel of Jesus Christ. If I were to speak out to anyone about these things, I would be quickly disfellowshipped, and my name would be blackened before all of my dear friends.
The last meeting that I attended at the Kingdom Hall was the Ministry School and Service meeting on Friday, November 16. Before the meeting began, I approached one of the elders of the congregation and requested a meeting with the elders sometime that weekend. He explained that the KM (Kingdom Ministry) school was taking place that weekend, and that none of the elders could break away to meet with me, but that maybe we could get together the following week. I then explained that I was seriously considering disassociating myself from the Organization, and that next week would probably be too late. Still, he said that the weekend's plans were set, and we would have to wait.
I lasted through about half of the meeting. The Holy Spirit was now convicting me of the blasphemous life that I had lived as a Jehovah's Witness. I was convicted of living my entire life as a Witness in the flesh, continually resisting the Holy Spirit as He reached out to me through the Scriptures and through concerned Christians who had been witnessing to me. I was convicted of sinning against the Church, teaching people that evangelical Christianity was of satanic origin, and that it would be soon destroyed by God. And I was convicted of blaspheming against the Son of God, blindly teaching people from a few twisted Scriptures that Jesus Christ was really Michael the archangel, and not a manifestation of God Himself in human form.
I went home and broke down before the Lord. I repented of all the wrongs that I had committed against Him both before and after having become a servant of the Watchtower Society. I prayed that He would forgive and remove every sin that remained in my life, and that by the Holy Spirit He would come and dwell in me forever (John 14:17). I didn't know quite what to expect, but I knew that I was leaving all things to gain Christ (Phil 3:8).
And I was born again!
The following week, on November 24, I did meet again with the elders. But this meeting was very different from the previous three. For about two hours I explained to them from the Scriptures the reasons why I had done what I had done and why I now believed what I believed. They had a very difficult time trying to refute the Scriptures I presented to them, and they seemed relieved when I gave them my letter of disassociation.
Though all of my close friends, including my brother, have now fully disowned me, and though I have had to endure some severe mental and emotional stress for a while, all of these trials seem quite small when compared with the joy and freedom that comes with knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit dwells in my heart continually, and I know that I am at long last a real Christian. Eternal life is no longer something to grope or work for, but is something that I possess right now (1 John 5:13). Both from the word of God and from my own day-to-day personal experience, I have the full assurance that I belong to Jesus Christ my Lord, and that I will live with Him forever and ever to the glory of God our Father.
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Though "Reasoning with Jehovah's Witnesses" was originally compiled for my own personal use, I believe the information contained herein could be of considerable help to all those who have become involved with Jehovah's Witnesses in one way or another.
To Jehovah's Witnesses, I would like to present this study as a coherent, Scriptural alternative to Watchtower theology. Although it was put together primarily through an inductive study of the Scriptures alone, it will be obvious that the conclusions drawn do confirm the age-old foundational doctrines of historic evangelical Christianity. It is my sincere prayer that through an honest comparison of the Scriptures cited herein with the teachings of the Watchtower Society, many Jehovah's Witnesses will be enabled to see clearly the excellence of Christian life and will come to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
To those now studying the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses, I would like to offer this study as the "other side" of the story being presented by the Witnesses. It is my desire that this study might help many make informed decisions regarding their involvement with Jehovah's Witnesses; that they would trust in Christ alone for salvation, and that a solid doctrinal foundation might be established in their own lives.
To Christians involved in witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses, I would like to offer this study as a thorough Scriptural refutation of the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses. It is my prayer that this material will be put to use in the challenging work of leading sincere Jehovah's Witnesses to Christ.
Jehovah's Witnesses in general are sincere, humble, and honest people who have been tragically misled in their search for God. They have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge; not understanding that Christ is the end of the Law for all who believe (Rom 10:1-4).
I hope this study can be of help in making disciples for Christ from among the 3 million people still being held captive by the corrupt and deceptive teachings of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. I pray that many Witnesses will yet be encouraged and empowered to turn from organizational bondage to the life and peace that can only be theirs in fellowship with our living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
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How the Study is Arranged
The 28 major subjects discussed in this book are divided into 4 parts each: