[ Author: Sally Peterson ]
In search of freedom
Long after a Jehovah’s Witness leaves the Watchtower organization, he or she may still cling to many of their false teachings, believing them to be true. This was certainly true in my case as well. For ten years after leaving the Watchtower organization, I still believed their teachings and obeyed all their rules and regulations. I didn’t celebrate birthdays or holidays, vote, salute the flag or sing the national anthem. I was a cult member without a cult!
Sadly, for thousands of Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world this is also true. Some of them may claim and even believe they are Christians while denying the basic tenets of the Christian faith. If you happen to come across them, please remember this: we are saved by grace, by faith, not by doctrines.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8,9 (NIV)
I realize we all know this scripture, but how often I’ve seen Christians forget and state dogmatically, “If you don’t believe in hell you can’t be a Christian.” Or, “If you don’t go to Church you are not a Christian.” What many Christians don’t realize is that former Jehovah’s Witnesses have been the victims of spiritual abuse and mind control. It takes time to recover and to sort out truth from the false teachings of a cult. Please be patient. Please be kind. Show them, step-by-step what the Scriptures say. Please don’t info-bomb them with a long list of verses and no explanation.
They need to have the basic teachings explained to them because after decades of mind control they are no longer able to reason or think clearly. Just about everything they have been taught has been out of context. Whenever you show them a verse, all the Watchtower arguments come to their minds and to refute what you are trying to show them. They need to have these out of context teachings explained to them before they can understand and accept new teachings.
Holding onto the past
Sadly, it’s pretty common for an Ex-Jehovah’s Witness to refuse to darken the doorstep of any church. Some never join, while some, like me, take decades. Many years after leaving the organization, I still held onto three teachings.
- There is no hell.
- The Trinity is false.
- Taking blood is wrong.
I once heard it said, “Jesus is the bridegroom. We are the bride. Our job is to make them (those who don’t know Christ) fall in love with the bridegroom.”
Hearing that was an aha! moment for me. Our primary responsibility is to make those who don’t know Jesus fall in love with Him. We need to introduce them to Jesus!
Once someone leaves the Watchtower, generally speaking, they don’t normally instantly throw out all their false teachings, accept Jesus and become a Trinitarian overnight! It doesn’t usually work that way. Becoming a Christian is a journey. A journey of healing, prayer, and discovery, all of which take time. If Jesus is patient with us in our Christian walk, shouldn’t we be patient with the ex-cult member as they seek to understand?
Remember, the Jehovah’s Witness has been taught to hate Christendom (a derogatory term used for Christianity), and they are taught the central doctrines of Christianity are pagan. After finding out they have been deceived by a cult, they are typically terrified of being deceived again, thus they reject anything they still view as pagan. At this point in time, they are typically lost, confused, isolated and living in both fear and anger. Fear of being deceived again, anger at being deceived in the first place, anger at the Watchtower, and usually anger at God.
The Watchtower is slick. Not only does it mislead and deceive, it also instills hatred against everything that’s Christian. Think about it, the Watchtower is an anti-Christian religion. It’s anti-Trinity, anti-cross, anti-hell, anti-immortality of the soul. So, once they leave the organization, if they hold onto these teaching, they literally have no place to go and worship with others, unless of course, they join another cult! And this is what terrifies them so much.
A person not an organization
Have you ever heard a Jehovah’s Witness say, “Well if I leave where will I go?” Now we all know the disciples asked “to whom” shall we go?” (John 6:68) And that is Jesus, however the Jehovah’s Witness realizes once he leaves the organization, since he does not agree with Christians, who can he worship with? This is a very real fear for them. Not only do they lose all their family, but they also lose their entire social structure. Who can they worship with once they leave the Watchtower?
The Jehovah’s Witness has been taught not to pray to, talk to, or worship Jesus. How can you have a relationship with someone you cannot talk to? The following verses can be used to show the Jehovah’s Witnesses it is proper to pray to Jesus. You might try asking “If it’s not proper to pray to Jesus, why did Jesus instruct the disciples to do just that?”
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:14 (NIV)
“If it’s not proper to pray to Jesus, why did Stephen do so? Do you think Stephen was wrong?”
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Acts 7:59 (NIV)
“If it’s not proper to pray to Jesus, why did Paul plead with Jesus to remove the thorn in his flesh? Surely if it wasn’t proper Jesus would have corrected him!”
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. 2 Cor. 12:8,9 (NIV)
Now while the Jehovah’s Witness will of course claim to know Jesus, they actually just know about Jesus — much like we might know all about a movie star, football player or author. Here’s an analogy might help your Jehovah’s Witness friend. If you know all about an author, and you’ve read every book they have written does that mean the author knows you?
You might ask a Jehovah’s Witness or an Ex-Jehovah’s Witness, does Jesus know you? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? Do you talk to Jesus? Or will Jesus say I never knew you?
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Matt. 25:41 (NIV)
If you happen to come across an Ex-Jehovah’s Witness who is either terrified to join a church, or has been unable to find one, you might try suggesting they listen to sermons online. In the comfort of their own home, coffee cup in hand, they can listen and if they become frightened they can simply shut it off. This is an amazing first step for the ex-cult member to take before overcoming their fear and stepping foot into a church.