My mom really began to convince me of the truth when I was a young teen. She had always read the bible and publications like the Great Teacher book to me my whole life since I was a toddler of course. Many times this had to be done in secret and especially when my dad was around because he was quite opposed to her new religious beliefs. He was and still is a great father, he just never was into organized religion and especially Jehovah’s Witnesses. Kids then didn’t yet have the Bible Story book but we had “From Paradise Lost…To Paradise Regained” (Published 1958) and I flipped through those pages during the meetings looking at the pictures of Adam and Eve, The Dragon, The Harlot, Armageddon, etc. literally hundreds of times when I was little.

Being a skeptical person like my father, you have to show me, convince me, and use logic to get me to believe something. Until then I will disagree with you vehemently, but once I’ve mentally passed over the “logic ridge” and something makes sense I will quickly change and acknowledge it. “Of course you are right on that I’ve changed my viewpoint completely!” As if in my mind I was saying “Duhhh!” This drives my wife crazy at times, but that’s a whole other story…

So my mother is talking to me about the heart. And how it hurts when you are going through trials and how the Bible says it has feelings, etc. This was around 1982 or 1983 I’m not sure exactly. But she was repeating the official Watchtower Society stand on the Bible’s use of the word heart, and indeed, many Christian groups and denominations felt that way about the heart too at the time.

So anyway, I am the little scientist in the family and I am disagreeing with her- it’s just a pump, it has no neurons or synapses, it’s a muscle, etc. She is arguing back patiently with me (patiently for a hot blooded Italian mother!) and then referring to Bible scriptures, the magazines, on and on. Of course the conversation ultimately ended at a stalemate and I remember thinking that I didn’t care what the Bible or the magazines said about the heart because it was obvious to me that it was symbolic. Actually I don’t think I was able to articulate it to her that well but I do remember thinking that later.

So a little time goes by and an older elderly brother who partook of the emblems and was a complete saint perhaps literally and figuratively was studying with me and I am making progress in the truth and am close to baptism. And then along comes this Watchtower article about the heart. It brought out that the Bible uses the word heart in a figurative sense (See W84 9/1 pages 6-7) and that the Bible writers use it in a similar sense that they do when referring to the kidneys and intestines. Well this article meant a lot to me. I had laid the issue to rest, hadn’t talked about it since, it wasn’t some huge stumbling block. But the fact that the Society had changed its viewpoint really affected me. I was impressed that the magazines could change, that our organization could change its mind and be more correct.

But as I grew older, and especially in the last several months since reading Crisis of Conscience this personal experience has made me realize some things about the doctrines and teachings we are all expected to believe and accept without question. Can you just “let it go” if it’s not a big deal? Does that mean that in your heart you believe one thing, but outwardly go along with something else? Is that okay? Does Jehovah God think that’s okay? Does a scripture in Revelation written in 98 C.E. really correspond with what was said at a convention by Brother Rutherford in 1922? We all have these questions at one time don’t we? Is changing of doctrine always proof of divine light? Or something else?

It reminds me of a Bible study with a married couple I conducted in my pioneer days, which was a good 15 years ago. They were very sharp Bible readers and good people and we were debating back and forth a bit over the Trinity I think it was. The husband said something that stuck out to me then and still does to this day. He pointed out that I was repeating what the brochure said and he wanted to know what I personally thought. My response was that, well, that’s what I think too. And he asked with complete sincerity and wide eyes, do you really ALWAYS believe everything that your religion teaches? I instantly thought of the conversation with my mom and my stubborn logic about the Bible’s use of the word heart and how I didn’t agree with her or the Watchtower at the time. But I couldn’t get into all that with a householder and a fairly new Bible study- it wouldn’t be right and so I hedged my bets and just said, “Well pretty much, yes.” And there was that one little piece of me that was bothered by this answer that I felt was required of me. A little bit of “Theocratic Warfare” as Witnesses sometimes wink and make reference to had been dispensed to try and win him over to the truth. What else could I say? That’s the reasoning I used to make myself feel okay about it.

About two years after this 1984 article, the Watchtower said:

“The ancient Egyptians believed that the physical heart was the seat of intelligence and the emotions. They also thought that it had a will of its own. The Babylonians said that the heart housed the intellect as well as love. The Greek philosopher Aristotle taught that it was the seat of the senses and the domain of the soul. But as time passed and knowledge increased, these views were discarded. Finally the heart became known for what it is, a pump to circulate the blood throughout the body.” (The Watchtower, June 1, 1986, p. 15) No mention is made that this had basically been WTS teaching, the same as these ancient races, until only recently.

So this was maybe for me one of those little clues that you come across in your life’s journey, and that you file away and wonder about occasionally. Then eventually you grab that puzzle piece and plop it onto some little gap in the “big picture” of your life. I still have a lot of those little openings in my personal puzzle that’s for sure.

Rating 4.00 out of 5

1 Comment on The Bible’s use of the word “Heart”

  1. greybeard says:

    Hey JJ,
    I enjoyed this. I two was raised on the Paradise book and Great Teacher book. My mother was the one that studied with us most of the time. My father was an Elder as far back as I can remember. He was always conducting meetings and giving talks. I never did disagree with anything or have any doubts as to what I thought the truth was. Not until, like you, I read Ray Franz book and others. I had a gross feeling though that I had been lied to about the time of the end. Not expecting this system to go on this long hit me hard. It wasn’t that I wanted to see “wicked people” destroyed, I wanted to see Gods Kingdom Rule and bring health and peace to all mankind.


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