As I conclude here I have not been disfellowshipped. But I know enough about JW judicial matters (I was involved in many excommunications), it is only a matter of time. The local elders will take the responsibility for what they do and the JW corporate executive will remain in the background with their cadre of legal slave labor in dozens of lawyers. These men are not evil in themselves, neither are the GB. If you can isolate a JW from the collective mind-set, you will often find a genuine human-being.
Perhaps this is the greatest deceit, for Paul warns: ‘But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning, your minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ. For, as it is, if someone comes and preaches a Jesus other than the one we preached, or you receive a spirit other than what you received, or good news other than what you accepted, you easily put up [with him]. ... For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light. It is therefore nothing great if his ministers also keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness. But their end shall be according to their works. ... For you gladly put up with the unreasonable persons, seeing you are reasonable. In fact, you put up with whoever enslaves you, whoever devours [what you have], whoever grabs [what you have], whoever exalts himself over [you], whoever strikes you in the face.’ (2 Corinthians 11:3, 4, 13-15, 19, 20 NWT)
Regarding JW youths: no matter their smile, their manners, their appearance, from my own experience, I would not now trust a single, walking, breathing, innocent-appearing JW youth, anywhere. They can be masters at deceit. My children fell prey to these and it was among my biggest errors to permit association with any.
I was asked what I would say to someone interested in studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses or planning on becoming one. I would suggest no one get involved with any religion until they have read the Bible once and the teachings of the Nazarene several times. That would give them a broad palette upon which to examine any religion. Additionally, if they do study with Jehovah’s Witnesses, examine the paragraphs in the publication and make sure the texts cited actually say what the book asserts to be true.
One of the great weaknesses of many JWs is that they have never once read all of the Bible. My own wife did not finish her first complete reading of the Bible until 40 years after her baptism. I had several circuit overseers confess they had not yet read all of the Bible despite decades “in the truth.” A close friend who was a Bethel elder and served in the Writing Department had not finished a complete reading of the Bible after a year at Bethel. The next time you meet a JW ask if they have read the entire Bible and to come back after they have.
I was also asked what I would ask a JW today. I would ask: “Do you believe ‘the time is at hand’ or ‘the due time is approached?” To which any JW would answer yes. “Do you preach this? Is this in your publications?” JWs will answer, Yes. Then I would have them read Luke 21:8. “Well, there is Jesus’ command and I intend to follow it.”
I no longer “fear” that “presumptuous” prophet Moses warned about: ‘When the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. you must not get frightened at him.' (Deuteronomy 18:22 NWT) Nor need I be impressed by great statistics or impressive buildings or claims of almost miraculous works, for the Nazarene says regarding some who claimed a direct channel to him: ‘Not everyone saying to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?' And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23 NWT)
I will continue to view all JWs as my brothers and sisters. I will view every person who makes the public confession, “Jesus is Lord,” as those of my brethren who will gather with all the “chosen ones” for the parousia-Judgment upon our resurrection. I pray I may carry Christ with me everyday as I try to step exactly in the Nazarene’s footsteps, for I must try to “follow the Lamb no matter where he goes.” (Romans 10:9, 10; Revelation 14:3-5) I will constantly beg God for His forgiveness and grace for stumbling over those JW pseudo-anointed and false prophets. God is their judge. I forgive everyone who sinned against me, even those who whispered slander by calling me an apostate.
Will Christ come in my life-time? I pray that he does, but I am not authorized to make predictions and preach, “The time is at hand!” The Nazarene warned not to follow, join, or believe any that did. (Luke 21:8) I believe this is a most marvelous generation during which to live. The next 50 years will be . . . wondrous. Will mankind continue to decay? I believe Satan is “the god of this world.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) Therefore, “the whole world lies in the power of the Wicked One.” (1 John 5:19) Mankind’s six billion is an entirely new and unknown experience in humanity. Nothing like it has ever happened. No one is wise enough to predict what will happen with this social, political, moral model.
What will happen to JWs around the world as a religious experiment? The most recent Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses for 1997 shows a world-wide increase of 4.4%. However, the chart in this book shows most countries in the wealthier western world to have come to a dead stop. For example: Alaska, -1; Australia, 0; Belgium, -1; Britain, 0; Canada, 1; Czech Republic, 0; Denmark, -2; Finland, 1; France, 0; Germany, 0; Ireland, 1; Lichtenstein, -3; Malta, 0; Netherlands, -1; New Zealand, -1; Norway, -1; Poland, 2; Sweden, 0; Switzerland, 1; and, the USA, 1. Growth in these developed countries is virtually based on a new generation of JWs born. Like the Mormons, JWs will grow in these countries from children born. A visit to a baptism at any assembly will show the vast bulk to be teenagers born as JWs. The growth in the emerging world, such as South America, Africa, and the former Iron Curtain countries, is what keeps the overall increase at 4%.
Most JWs are ill-equipped to actually study the Bible with persons and thus “bring them into the truth.” Recently an anointed brother approached me and asked how I had been so instrumental in bringing so many persons into the truth. He stated after being born into the truth 77 years ago he had never brought a single Bible study to dedication and baptism. This despite he had been a special pioneer and regular pioneer for many years. I explained the key was to take them under your wing, show them hospitality and make them feel they are among a large family who cares for them. Many of my Bible students had come from my secular life. Many of the people I worked with began to study with me.
This is known as “informal witnessing” rather than the formal door to door work. My own experience is that most people are drawn to JWs, not for religious or intellectual reasons, but because of the warm association which they experience when first exposed to JWs. This is called the “love bomb” by some. It has been said by someone that JWs memorize about three dozen texts, and these seem enough to impress the average Biblically ignorant church-goer. What is impressive are the great conventions. I had learned that if I could get an interested person to a circuit or district assembly, there was a 80% chance they would become JWs.
Once baptized, very few will go on to memorize more than the original three dozen Bible passages. Elders will memorize two dozen more, and many times this passages from the publications for judicial purposes. I had learned early on if you wanted to convince a JW of something do not quote the Bible, quote “the literature.” You could cite Scriptural texts all day and night and it would not have near the impact of citing a paragraph in the Watchtower. As I have said there are extremely few JW elders who could sit in a room with only the Bible and effectively defend his faith against someone who actually knew the Scriptures well.
Again and again I found myself invited to go on “return visits” with another JW who could not defend himself against some who knew the Bible and a bit of Greek. This is particularly true with such questions as John 1:1. I went on scores of these calls because no JW was prepared to carry on these discussions. Indeed, discussions of this nature are actually discouraged. It is next to impossible to get a JW circuit overseer to go on a serious call involving the Trinity. It is not that the doctrine of the Trinity can be so easily defended, it is the Bible ignorance of JWs.
There are enough Bible-trained Christians who would gladly accept the challenge to publicly debate any living, breathing JW elder in the world on the subjects of “the last days,” the “great crowd,” or 1914, fundamental teachings. Much is made of the Pastor and his famous debates where he is reported to have “turned the hose on Hell and put out the fires.” Yet, today “debates” are virtually forbidden. Another way to demonstrate this is to let any JW prepare a paper on the Great Crowd as Christians who survive the Great Oppression to live on earth forever, and let another serious Bible student prepare a similar paper proving the Great Crowd are a heavenly group serving God in His celestial Temple. Then let others read the arguments and make up their own minds.
For example, on the subject of the Great Crowd and the 144,000 compare the Revelation Climax pages 113-119, 198-205 explanations with those in Nazarene Apocalypse! (pages 120-143)
To quill the problem of “apostasy” a new definition appeared in 1986 which included the denial of certain fundamental truths “unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Consider this:
“Approved association with Jehovah's Witnesses [editor: the subject is “apostasy”] requires accepting the entire range of the true teachings of the Bible, including those Scriptural beliefs that are unique to Jehovah's Witnesses. What do such beliefs include? [only the real particulars are here included]
1) That there is a "faithful and discreet slave" upon earth today 'entrusted with all of Jesus' earthly interests,' which slave is associated with the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. (Matthew 24:45-47)
2) That 1914 marked the end of the Gentile Times and the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the heavens, as well as the time for Christ's foretold presence. (Luke 21:7-24; Revelation 11:15-12:10)
3) That only 144,000 Christians will receive the heavenly reward. (Revelation 14:1, 3)
4) That Armageddon, referring to the battle of the great day of God the Almighty, is near. (Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:11-21)
5) That it will be followed by Christ's Millennial Reign, which will restore an earth-wide paradise.
6) That the first to enjoy it will be the present "great crowd" of Jesus' "other sheep."-John 10:16; Revelation 7:9-17; 21:3, 4.” (The Watchtower, 1986, 4/31, page 31) (END QUOTE)
If this defines “apostasy” according to JWs then I must state: I was never asked what I believed but I now confess my personal belief on these six criteria:
1) I BELIEVE a consideration of the context of Matthew 24:45 and Luke 12:42 will show “the faithful and discreet slave” is either limited to Jesus’ own apostles or has an individual application. Regarding whether the GB with its “faithful and discreet slave class” is in fact feeding the “domestics,” I once asked over a dozen anointed JWs if they felt they were being fed by the “faithful and discreet slave class”. They all said, “No.” That is because spiritual food dealing with the anointed has virtually vanished from the publications since the late 1940s. Jesus precisely commanded this “faithful and discreet slave” in this manner: ‘His master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time.’ (Matthew 24:45 NWT) The “domestics” are understood by JWs to be the anointed among JWs. Is it fair to state that the Nazarene appointed the “faithful and discreet slave class” to feed the anointed? My own perception, and the answers of the dozen JW anointed, that the modern GB with its “faithful and discreet slave class” fails to feed “the domestics” and has forced a new “food” which appeals to those who are not “domestics” that is, the so-called “other sheep.”
2) I BELIEVE the date 1914 is a complete fallacy which contradicts Matthew 24:23 and Luke 21:8. Any fair reading of Daniel chapter 4 will show the “interpretation” of that dream is right there explained. This is without even considering the great problems with the date 607 BC. I would express my belief that it is impossible to know the date of Christ’s parousia for two reasons: a) Jesus himself does not know it (Matthew 24:36); and, b) none of his disciples can know it. (Mark 13:33; Acts 1:6, 7) Any prophet who predicts a date such as 1914 or 1975 as the marked “end of the world” is surely nothing more than that “presumptuous” prophet of Deuteronomy 18:20-22.
3) I DO NOT BELIEVE the 144,000 are the only ones who will go to heaven. The texts at Revelation 7:1-4 and 14:1-5 do not state the 144,000 are the only ones who go to heaven. Rather, it says they are the “firstfruits” of an obvious larger harvest of the same type or kind. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23) A source for the description of the 144,000 as, ‘ ...no falsehood was found in their mouths; they are without blemish,’ (Revelation 14:5) is straight out of Zephaniah 3:13: ‘As regards the remaining ones of Israel, they will do no unrighteousness, nor speak a lie, nor will there be found in their mouths a tricky tongue.’ These two verses are identical with the Greek of the Septuagint. They prove the 144,000 are “a remnant,” not the whole body. The 144,000 are described as “sealed out of the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Revelaton 7:4) These twelve tribes are viewed as the New Israel of God, that is a spiritual Israel under a “new covenant” with Jehovah. (Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:8-12; Luke 22:20; Galatians 6:15, 16; James 1:1) The 144,000 are “out of these” and not the full number of such.
4) I BELIEVE Armageddon may be near, but no Christian is authorized to say, “Armageddon is near.” (Luke 21:8) I submit that 120 years is not “near.” The word conveys the idea of imminent, within days or hours, not scores of years. The word “near” has been appearing in Watchtower publications since 1874. “Soon” occurs over 10,000 times and “near” 8,000 times. One cannot keep saying “near,” “soon,” and “immediately ahead,” before it begins to loose meaning and it becomes a case of the little shepherd crying “wolf” just too many times. I believe some generation in the future will finally prove to be the one which experiences Armageddon and only then will they be able to say, “those were the last days.”
5) I BELIEVE I see no texts cited for this assertion. I believe the Thousand Years will be a marvelous experience under the reign of Messiah. However, I believe no resurrection at all occurs during the Thousand Years. (Revelation 20:5) Any generation of “nations” (Revelation 20:3) which survives into the Thousand Years will experience death. (Isaiah 65:17-23; 66:23, 24; Zechariah 14:6-17) In this respect only will it be a “paradise.”
6) I BELIEVE the “great crowd” are exactly the same as “we the living” of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and the “chosen ones” of Matthew 24:20, 21 and the “people who are written in the Book” of Daniel 12:1, 2. I believe the “other sheep” are the anointed Gentile members of Messiah’s “sheepfold.” (John 1:16; Matthew 10:6; 15:24; John 12:20-25, 32; Isaiah 49:6-10; Ephesians 2:11-22)
If these beliefs describe me as an “apostate” on the basis of JW criteria, then I am such though I see no Scriptural proof for this. I am “murdered” without knowing the charge. Without a trial. And without facing my accusers. To JWs excommunication of an apostate is worse than death. It is, in fact, the Second Death from which there is no resurrection. It is impossible to return to the JW fold. (Hebrews 6:4-6) Thus, in reality, this is worse than any Inquisition. These JW elders as judges might as well wear Middle Ages cloaks with dark hoods and try me in some dark dungeon using the Star-chamber tactics of the Inquisition. I am as good as dead, dead eternally, as far as my family and friends and former Bible students are concerned. This, because I believed something about which I had not yet spoken. I will be disfellowshipped for only one reason: I wrote the GB privately and confidentially asking the wrong questions.
I attest this work with my own signature ______________________ this date of September 12, 1997, before any excommunication has taken place. What will I do now?
‘Now because we have the same spirit of faith
as that of which it is written:
"I exercised faith, therefore I spoke,"
we too exercise faith
and therefore we speak,
knowing that he who raised Jesus up
will raise us up also together with Jesus
and will present us together with you.
Therefore we do not give up,
but even if the man we are
outside is wasting away,
certainly the man we are inside
is being renewed from day to day.
For though the tribulation is momentary and light,
it works out for us a glory
that is of more and more surpassing weight
and is everlasting;
while we keep our eyes,
not on the things seen,
but on the things unseen.
For the things seen are temporary,
but the things unseen are everlasting.
(2 Corinthians 4.13, 14,16-18 NWT)
Nazarene Commentary 2000©
Mark Heber Miller
©2000 All Rights Reserved