Our discussion will take the form of a simulated conversation between a Jehovah's Witness named Joe and a Christian named Chris.
Chris: Hello, Joe. It is nice to see you again. How have you been?
Joe: I have been feeling just sick about the terrorist attack at the World Trade Centre in New York City. I have been filled with so much fear that it has been hard for me to work at my job.
Chris: Why are you so fearful Joe?
Joe: I am worried that this is the start of Armageddon. I am afraid that I have not done enough to survive. I can't talk to anyone in my kingdom hall because they would just look down on me. I talked with an overseer years ago when there was a situation in the Middle East but all he told me was that I needed to put more hours in the service and place more magazines.
Chris: Joe, help me to understand what you are saying. I know that the Watchtower has encouraged people to come into the organization for safety. Why is it that you don't feel safe?
Joe: The Society has set a minimum standard of 10 hours a month in door to door witnessing and I have managed to put in 15 - 20 hours a month even with my hectic schedule. I hardly miss a meeting and I know that I have placed more Watchtower and Awake! Magazines than most others in the congregation, but I still don't feel that I have done enough. Sometimes I find myself envying those who died in the New York disaster. Everyone who dies before Armageddon except for murders are guaranteed that they will be resurrected onto paradise earth, yet I struggle so hard and have no assurance at all. I often lay awake at night during a thunderstorm and fear grips my heart as I realize that this could be the start of Armageddon and Jehovah could just zap me at any moment.
Chris: I never realized that you were that fearful.
Joe: I have learned how to hide it very well, but when I am alone I am so fearful that I have even thought about suicide a few times. What has stopped me is that the Society says that anyone who murders will not receive a resurrection and I know that suicide is self murder.
Chris: If I understand you right, Joe, anyone of any religion and even atheists, according to the Watchtower will receive a second chance on paradise earth as long as they die before Armageddon. Any Hindu, Muslim, or atheist, any Baptist, Catholic or Mormon, all who die will be given a second chance to prove themselves worthy of everlasting life.
Joe: Yes, that's right.
Chris: But that also means is that any Hindu, Muslim or atheist, any Baptist, Catholic or Mormon who dies five minutes later at the start of Armageddon will not receive a resurrection. Is that what the Watchtower teaches, Joe?
Joe: I...I've never quite thought of it that way before but you are right. That is what the Society teaches.
Chris: Joe, I have a real problem with two of the Watchtower's teachings. The first problem I have is that the Watchtower in essence teaches that God discriminates between people depending on when they die. If they die before Armageddon, they are safe. But if the very same people die at Armageddon, they are condemned. I see no scriptural evidence for this kind of discrimination. The second problem I have is with the Watchtower's teaching that God gives a second chance after death. This teaching contradicts the bible In Hebrews 9:27 when it says "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." By belief in a second chance after death the Watchtower is actually teaching that people who are resurrected onto paradise earth but who do not pass the final test will physically die twice. By teaching that men have a second chance after death, the Watchtower contradicts Jesus' clear teaching that men will have to give an account of themselves for what they do or say in this lifetime. Jesus said in Matthew 12:36 & 37 "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
Joe: I have tried to do all that was required of me yet I don't feel that I have done enough. I don't understand why it is that you have such a confidence that you are accepted by Jehovah and that you will be saved when I don't.
Chris: When I was a young child I realized that I was a sinner. I had never done anything really bad but I knew that I did not measure up to God's perfect standards. I understood that Jesus had died to take my place as full payment for my personal sins. I also believed that he was resurrected from the dead in his own body as proof that he had taken victory over death and the grave. I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and to come into my heart and be my personal Lord and Savior. From that moment on I had an assurance that because of Jesus' works, not my own, that I was accepted as one of God's children and that I would never come into God's condemnation.