HOW TO GET Jehovah's Witnesses TO LISTEN

by ex-JW David A. Reed

Do they know the Bible? - Or just certain proof-texts?

Jehovah's Witnesses give the impression of knowing their Bible. They flip back and forth to their favorite "proof" texts with the greatest of ease, "proving" their points and defeating your arguments -- or at least stirring up enough dust to cloud the issue. But, in reality, most JWs don't know the Bible.

What they do know is those few dozen "proof" texts, taken out of context by their organization and re-assembled to form arguments far afield from what the Bible actually says.

The Witnesses are taught to believe they "study the Bible" more than other religions, but their study material actually consists of Watchtower Society publications. Bible verses are quoted, but out of context.

Not only is the context omitted, but the verses are actually placed in a different context, namely the context of the Watchtower material.

To grasp how this can change the meaning, think of the entire biblical passage as a cooked turkey breast. Someone cutting into that turkey breast and eating it will know what it tastes like. However, someone who is given just a thin slice smothered with mustard between layers of rye bread will know only what the sandwich tastes like -- not the taste of the turkey itself.

Similarly, the original flavor or meaning of a Bible verse can be completely lost or changed when sandwiched between introductory words and concluding application in the pages of a Watchtower book.

Feeding on steady diet of such "scripture sandwiches," Jehovah's Witnesses never really come to know the Bible. But they do learn the Watchtower Society's teachings, along with the proof texts the Society uses to make those teachings appear to be "Bible-based."

When discussing matters among themselves, JWs will reference and turn to Watchtower publications to prove a point or to determine what they should believe. Turning to a Bible verse is never sufficient, because they know their beliefs really depend upon the Society's interpretation of the verse.

In fact, JWs routinely search their publications for the Society's latest interpretation, if they have been in the organization long enough to see "the light get brighter" on various matters.

When the Society revises failed prophecies or reverses doctrinal positions, it often uses the very same verses to support the new teaching. The old interpretation is simply discarded and a new interpretation supplied as the official meaning of the verse in question.

Yet, through a process that George Orwell called double-think in his futuristic novel Nineteen Eighty-four, JWs actually believe that their teachings come directly from the Bible, and the Bible alone, while at the same time knowing in their hearts that everything depends on the current interpretation coming from Brooklyn headquarters.

Occasionally, however -- such as when some internal upheaval in the organization frightens the leadership into using strong language to keep the members in line -- a statement is published that betrays their real attitude:

"Jehovah God has also provided his visible organization, his 'faithful and discreet slave,' made up of spirit-anointed ones, to help Christians in all nations to understand and apply properly the Bible in their lives. Unless we are in touch with this channel of communication that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do." -- The Watchtower December 1, 1981, page 27

When speaking with outsiders, the Witnesses are trained to quote and cite only the Scriptures -- not the Watchtower publications that form the real basis for their beliefs.

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