Our discussion this week will take the form of a simulated conversation between a Jehovah's Witness named Joe and a Christian named Chris. Recently Joe accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour.
Joe: Chris, I have so many questions about Christianity. Since I have accepted Jesus as my Saviour I seem to have so many more questions then answers. I just can't see myself ever accepting the Trinity or hellfire or the immortality of the soul. At the same time there are things like Christmas and birthdays that I find myself questioning whether the Watchtower Society is really right in claiming that they are pagan and unacceptable to Jehovah.
Chris: Joe, the Society has given you a very one-sided view of doctrinal issues. Have you started praying to God about your questions and asking him for his wisdom and help?
Joe: I have prayed a lot to Jehovah this week sharing with him all my hurts and struggles. I have asked him to help me to be able to separate truth from error. Everyday before I go to work I have spent time talking to Jehovah in prayer. On Friday I got into my car to go to work and as I bowed my head to pray to Jehovah I heard myself saying "Father". I couldn't believe it! I have never prayed to Jehovah that way before, yet it seems so natural for me to call him Father now.
Chris: You know Joe, there is a passage in the Bible that I would like to share with you. It is found in Galatians 4:6, 7. It says "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." You see when you asked Jesus to forgive you and become your Lord and Saviour, Jehovah sent the spirit of his son into your heart. You are no longer a slave but you are now a son. That's why you are now able to freely call God "Father".
Joe: Something else happened to me this week when I went to the Kingdom Hall. As I sat in the meeting I started to feel uncomfortable. It suddenly occurred to me that the Society was constantly lifting themselves to the place of prominence instead of Jesus. I looked around at the people's faces as they listened to the talk and I thought "These people are coming here to get spiritual food but they are getting the same old indoctrination that they have heard thousands of times before. They are being told that the Society must come first. Obedience to the Society is what is required. The Society's rules... the authority of the elders... more hours and more effort must be put in service for the Society....can't these people see that the Society has raised itself up to the level of a god?" I just couldn't stomach it anymore. I got up in the middle of the meeting and left.
Chris: What did you do then?
Joe: Chris, I didn't know what to do. It seems that I can see some things so clearly now, yet I just don't know where to go from here. Am I supposed to start celebrating all the pagan holidays? Do I just give up all that I have learned from the Society just because they are wrong on some of their teachings? I feel like I am being pulled to the Society because of all that they taught me and yet I am drawn to a personal relationship with Jesus. I think the elders know that there was something going on with me. They have asked to meet with me this week.
Chris: Joe, what is really holding you to the Society?
Joe: Everything and everyone that I know is part of the Society. How can I give up on something that has been part of my life since I was a little boy? Chris, if I chose to celebrate Jesus' birth or if I'm caught going to another church, my family will abandon me. The Watchtower Society requires that they reject anyone in the organization who does not follow all of their rules and regulations. I could not bear to have my own family turn their back on me.
Chris: That sounds like a very unloving, unchristian thing to do.
Joe: I didn't think much about it when I was required to shun my cousin when he was caught smoking. No one spoke to him for almost a year until he finally got reinstated in the organization. But I don't know if I could handle losing my family forever.
Chris: Why would you have to lose your family? Can't you just quietly leave on your own?
Joe: One cannot just quietly leave when you have family and friends still in the Watchtower. You see if someone commits what the Society brands a "sin" they are disfellowshipped and those in the organization must cut all ties to that person. In the same way if someone choses to leave on their own they can disassociate themselves, but they are treated the same way as one who is disfellowshipped. Jehovah's Witnesses know that to leave the organization is the same as turning your back on God. There is no honorable way to leave the Society.
Chris: I am really interested why the Watchtower practices disfellowshipping. When you come back next time can we discuss the Watchtower's reasoning and have a look together at the Bible to see what it says?