There are many sincere brothers and sisters out there that don’t lie awake and wonder where the organization is heading. They are just trying to make the best of their service to Jehovah and love the friends. Despite being aware that something’s not quite right, they are trying to stay in “God’s love”. (Romans 8:38-39) Others among us cannot make that leap and continue to support an Organization that they feel has behaved as a false prophet and caused the loss of so many lives as a result.
Regardless of which camp we fall into, and no matter how intensely this struggle hovers in the back of our consciousness, keeping faith and not “losing heart” is critical. Didn’t Jesus emphasize that part of our successful journey along the narrow road is to endure to the end? (Matthew 7:13,14; Matthew 24:13) So a danger for us as awakened or former Witnesses is that we could come to feel that “if this isn’t the truth then there is no God”. This is a spiritually dangerous place to be. It’s like the boy that found out there was no Santa Clause and then said to his mother, “Well if there’s no Santa then maybe there’s no God either.” This may seem trivial to an adult, but the little boy’s realization that he had been lied to for most of his short life shook his tender faith. His parents credulity and his trust in authority was seriously damaged.
Can you relate to this story? Many of us can. Pray that you never succumb to despair, faithlessness, or an “eat drink and be merry attitude”! This has happened to some that have read Crisis of Conscience or other similar books. It can be a “spiritual bomb” that can devastate our faith if we allow it to. Certain websites are filled with angry, bitter folks that now live up to the Society’s definition of an angry apostate and that is sad. Some of these former Witnesses are atheists as well. We understand “the why” and we pray that these ones will be able to leave the anger and resentment behind at some point. But now that we know what we know about the Watchtower Organization and the flawed doctrinal template that everything is squeezed into, what will we do? Will we give up? Will we lose heart? Hebrews 10:39 says:
“Now we are not the sort that shrink back to destruction, but the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.” (NWT)
We are guided by our Christian conscience, and we do what what we feel we must. So many examples and stories abound from the thousands of us are that are faced with this dilemma. We’ve made reference to more than one of these stories on JWStruggle, such as the article entitled An interesting biography that shows us what’s ahead.
Another involves Don Cameron, a sincere brother who served as an elder for many years but finally had enough when he learned TTATT. When he met with his fellow elders to explain what he had learned about the Organization, they did not want to even acknowledge that there was a problem. Here’s a brief excerpt of what happened, as taken from his excellent book, Captives of a Concept:
I gave each elder in my congregation copies of official Watchtower letters to and from the Branch Office in Mexico which showed that President Knorr had allowed the Witnesses in that country to illegally bribe government officials in order to have them falsify a certificate, which then indicated that they had successfully completed one year of military basic training and were enrolled in the Mexican Army First Reserve. (Witnesses in all other parts of the world are told that such conduct is unacceptable.)
…They were not concerned in the slightest whether the letters were true. Their only concern was that I had them. They asked, “Where did you get these letters?” I said that they were included in the book written by former Governing Body member Raymond Franz. They then asked, “What are you doing reading a book written by an apostate?” That was their only response to these letters. (Note: As students of this period of Watchtower Society history are aware, Raymond Franz was not disfellowshipped for apostasy. Ostensibly it was for eating a single meal with his disassociated employer Peter Gregerson, which at the time was not even considered an offense a publisher could be removed from the congregation for. Ray’s wife Cynthia was also present at the meal and was not judicially spoken to or removed as a Witness.)
Later I was able to sit down with the congregation’s most humble elder and carefully go through the letters so that he understood what they were saying. His only response was, “If the Society isn’t God’s organization then I might as well eat, drink and be merry.” I understood him to mean that as far as he was concerned, if the Society isn’t God’s organization then there is no God! When the other elders reached the point of not wanting me to show them anything else, they made the following private comments to me:
“I would rather go to my grave being deceived then to find out that the Society isn’t who they say they are.”
“They can’t tell us the truth about the organization’s history because if they did the organization would fall apart.”
“I know there are problems. But I can wait 30 years for Jehovah to correct his organization.”
“I don’t care if every member of the Governing Body is apostate. I will do whatever they say because I know that Jehovah is using organization no matter what.”
These statements came from the “spiritually mature” congregation men that the Governing Body had appointed “under the guidance of the Holy Spirit” to shepherd the local congregation. These are the ones the members of the congregation look to for protection against those who would deceive and mislead them.
But how can an elder protect his congregation from being deceived if he himself would rather be deceived then to have to face the truth? How can an elder protect anyone from apostates if he doesn’t care if every member of his who are Governing Body is apostate? And how can an elder protect the congregation from being misled if he is perfectly willing to allow his own Governing Body to mislead them? The answer of course is, he cannot.
As painful as these experiences are, and no matter how benighted some of our brothers and sisters in the congregation have become, do we allow it to destroy our joy in serving God and Christ Jesus? Paul said “never may that happen!” Romans 3:3,4 says:
What, then, is the case? If some did not express faith, will their lack of faith perhaps make the faithfulness of God without effect? Never may that happen! But let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, even as it is written: “That you might be proved righteous in your words and might win when you are being judged.” (NWT)
Being faithful to the end and cultivating the fruitage of God’s spirit can help us have the right frame of mind. Here’s an encouraging email exchange between myself and a brother that enjoys JWStruggle.com:
I like the website it is very interesting though even with many of the supposed bros who are bashing the governing body and the organization as a whole I still believe that it is the closest thing to the truth and if it’s not then there must be no god but i honestly believe there is enough proof to give a good argument that god does exist and that we must serve him not any man and we must answer to no man it is to Jehovah that we will all answer to. There are many that have been disillusioned simply because of the things they have seen happen in the congregation I have seen things too and was in n out of the truth because of it but I have seen good bros and good elders that do care and listen and don’t bash you for everything and are not on top of you and invite you to a nice dinner and a beer if you’re old enough of course and that is why I have come back and the bros love me because I am still cool and fun and crazy and not two faced like so many others and I have seen how our attendance has grown when you have sincere bros serving in the cong. the flourishes and you look forward to every meeting. Those are my 2 cents.
My response back:
I have similar feelings as you do regarding the local elders and brothers and sisters. They are not bad people but try very hard to live Christian lives. I have not been stumbled in any way or hold I’ll will towards them- they are doing the best they can.
However what is sad to me is that they are led to believe that a small group of men in New York are an exalted “slave” that can decide their conscience and what they can and cannot do and even in some cases what they are allowed to think. For example, after many hours of study, some among us cannot see a single thing wrong with mothers or fathers day. Yet if one of us were to celebrate one of these, first they would be “helped” to see that JWs don’t do that. But if the brother didn’t recant and “admit” that he was in error, he would eventually be DFed and the friends would treat him as a wicked sinful person forever. He would be told that he will die at Armageddon and has no hope. Yet no actual Bible scriptures could or would be cited directly condemning the “sin” they had allegedly committed.
Does that sound Christlike? Is it scriptural to condemn your brother or sister for something so unclear in scripture? Many among us do not think it is, and feel it is actually more like the behavior of the Pharisees, who “DFed” Jesus and expelled him from the synagogue because he broke the rules of these men. Yet after he was excommunicated by these leaders, the apostles continued to listen to Jesus and associate with him, a clear “violation” of the Jewish laws. But their Godly consciences told them otherwise.
This is all food for thought brother. My purpose is not to persuade you to leave Jehovah- quite the contrary! We all should want to remain “in the truth” of God’s word as taught in the Bible and by his Son. Not being stuck following men’s thoughts as if they were scripture. Does that make sense?
While we may agree with one side or the other of this exchange, can we also see both points of view? Are we able to do that? Finding the good in others and giving our brothers the benefit of the doubt is a part of our sacred service. (Matthew 7:1-5) Trying to follow our Lord Christ Jesus is key- this will lead to happiness and contentment on our part. Condemning or judging others only ultimately hurts ourselves. Godly joy is a quality of the heart, and that’s something we can cultivate to a fuller extent- I certainly know that I need to work and pray about this more. Notice what the Insight book, volume 2 page 120 says about this:
True joy is a quality of the heart and can affect the whole body for good. “A joyful heart has a good effect on the countenance,” and “a heart that is joyful does good as a curer [or, “does good to the body”],” says the wise writer of Proverbs.—Pr 15:13; 17:22, ftn.
May we not lose heart. May we not give out in our faith as we continue in our own Christian walk.