We’ve all heard the story about the man that refuses to listen to the Witness who comes to his door, saying, “I was born a Catholic and I’m going to die a Catholic!” We are saddened that he is that closed-minded and unwilling to listen. We would never consider ourselves to be anything like him. I once asked a lady this question after a few minutes of speaking with her at her door:
“If I could show you something from your own Bible that was the opposite of what you had been taught at your church, would you want to change?”
She paused, looked up in the air for several seconds, and then said, “I don’t think so.” There was nothing left to say at that point in my mind, and I excused myself. Poor, poor, lady- another deluded, close-minded person. Sincere, yes; but doomed.
But do some among us do the same thing? Do some in effect say “I was born and raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and I’m going to DIE a Witness”? When reasoning with an asleep JW, the conversation can devolve into an endless loop along the lines of:
“Well the brothers are imperfect and they don’t claim to have all the answers. Picking at the faults of individuals or of the organization doesn’t prove anything.”
But does it? It certainly has been done hundreds of times in the Watchtower, when they point out the bad conduct of the churches and of its individual members. If a man or a group of men claims to speak for and be the “sole channel” that the Creator uses to save people on the earth, then they better be able to stand up to the same scrutiny. (Two of many examples in The Watchtower where they claim to be God’s sole channel are found in wt1960 7/15 p. 439 par. 2, and wt1967 10/1 p. 590 par. 19)
But that’s not the point of this article… Now comes the interesting part- what the Watchtower Organization itself says about what comes first- loyalty to a church or loyalty to Jehovah God. The Watchtower article below asks this very question, and uses the figurative example of three different kinds of churchgoers:
With some, God comes first and their church is merely a means used to worship him. With others, their church has become an end in itself, taking priority over God and his Word, the Bible. Where do you stand? In your own heart and mind, which comes first—your church or God?
Last July, one of France’s weekly news magazines, Le Nouvel Observateur…went on to speak of three men that typify three categories of believers:
“The first man is the one who feels at ease within the traditional structures of the Church; the second would like to see some changes made in these structures; as for the ‘third man,’ he has left the Church, but quietly, without making a fuss. He still believes in the Gospel values, but he expects no more help from the Church. He has quit, and the Church’s problem has ceased to interest him, once and for all.”
QUESTIONS FOR THE “FIRST MAN”
The “first man” represents the believers who remain faithful to their church out of loyalty to the religion they were brought up to believe in. Their attitude is: Right or wrong, it is my religion! Is that the way you feel? If so, you are certainly a loyal person. But to whom do you owe the greater loyalty—to your church, or to God? With so much disbelief rife throughout the earth, you are to be commended for maintaining your faith, but where should your faith be placed—in a religious organization, or in God? Why do you go to church? Basically, is it not because you believe in God? Do atheists go to church? Is not the very purpose of churchgoing to worship God and gain his approval? So if it became clear that your church was not fulfilling its basic purpose, where would your first duty lie?
REASONING THINGS OUT WITH THE “SECOND MAN”
The “second man” mentioned in the Nouvel Observateur represents those Catholics and Protestants who stay with their church because they do not know where else to go. They have been taught that their church represents God, and they do not want to turn away from him. They disapprove of many church practices or doctrines, but they hope to reform their church from within.
Typical of these are the 744 French Catholics who, in November 1968, sent a long open letter to the pope. In it they stated: “Today the Christian needs to live in a ‘true’ Church . . . Therefore all that is false, contrary to the Gospel and scandalous within the Church today wounds the Christian.” Then followed a long list of grievances against the Catholic Church and its current teachings and practices. Yet, toward the end, these Catholics expressed their unconditional adherence to their church by alluding to John 6:68 and stating: “Who could we go to? In her [the Roman Catholic Church] we find the One who has words of eternal life.” …Consequently, if your church teaches and does things that are contrary to the Bible and displeasing to God, your duty as a Christian is clear: Imitate Paul and ‘serve the Father and your God’ within the true religion which, not surprisingly, the churches often “call a heresy.” (The Watchtower 1970 1/15 p. 37-40)
Each and every one of us must pray and honestly examine ourselves, and then ask perhaps the hardest question we have ever faced: “Where do I stand? In my heart and my mind, which comes first—my organization or my God?” We ask the Catholic and Protestant to ask themselves this. So we should be willing to ask it of ourselves.
After we face this question and answer it, then what? WHOM shall we go away to? (John 6:68) Hopefully all of us reading this know the answer to that question.