|Baptised into Jehovah's Witnesses at the age of seventeen, Bill Browning tells just what it was like in the Watchtower 'organisation,' and why he left it after 23 years of faithful service.|
|Bill makes some specific references as to just why he couldn't continue as a Jehovah's Witness, and he provides an insight into how people become Jehovah's Witnesses. This is recommended reading for Christians, non-Christians, and Jehovah's Witnesses alike.|
|"Can there be false religion? It is not a form of religious persecution
for anyone to say and show that another religion is false. It is not religious
persecution for an informed person to expose publicly a certain religion
as being false, thus allowing persons to see the difference between false
religion and true religion. But in order to make the exposure and show
the wrong religion to be false, the true worshiper will have to use an
authoritative means of judgment, a rule of measurement that cannot be proved
faulty. To make a public exposure of false religion is certainly of more
value than exposing a news report as being untrue; it is a public service
instead of a religious persecution and it has to do with the eternal life
and happiness of the public. Still it leaves the public free to choose."
|"Therefore, how will you respond when pointed statements are made
about false religious teachings and corrupt practices? Will you immediately
condemn the person or organization making the expose? Do you feel it is
all right to teach lies and misrepresent God's Word, but wrong to expose
error? Contrary to what some may think, it is not unkind and unloving to
lay bare falsehood and corruption."
The beginning of my association with Jehovah's Witnesses began when I was fifteen years of age. My Father began having studies with a workmate who was one of Jehovah's Witnesses, but I wouldn't sit in. Why? Because my Auntie Nellie told me they were 'heretics,' and I loved my Auntie Nellie, so I refused to sit in, but stayed in my bedroom. However, after about six months of these studies something happened downstairs that caused a little commotion. I don't know what it was. All I do know is that my father ejected the Jehovah's Witness rather firmly, and I was standing at the top of the stairs enjoying the scene and shouting, "Go on Dad." I remember Dad telling the 'witness' not to call again "or else!" I thought it was great. But the very next week, when there was a knock on the door, I was the one who opened the door to reveal this 'witness' back again. "What are you doing here," Dad said over my shoulder. "I haven't come to see you Ernie, I've come to see your son."
Wow! Can you imagine the effect of the sincerity of this Jehovah's Witness on me? He had taken a chance on knocking again, after he'd been specifically told not to return, just to see me. This 'guy' must have something. So I arranged to begin a study with this very dedicated and zealous 'witness' in someone else's home. Dad refused permission for it to take place inside our home. (At this point I just want to say that Dad and I weren't getting on too well at the time, and I think I turned to this sincere 'witness' for some comfort.)
It wasn't too long before The Watchtower teachings persuaded me that The Salvation Army (like the rest of the main churches they said,) wasn't teaching me the truth from the Bible. I was attending the local Kingdom Hall meetings (the 'witness' name for their church), and being influenced by the love and genuine dedication of the local 'witnesses.' In the local congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Hounslow Middlesex, more than half of them were in some form of full-time ministry, and their zeal was 'rubbing off' on me. I was eventually baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses on April 1st, 1960, aged seventeen, and I enjoyed my association with them.
I left the Salvation Army after I had asked my commanding officer several times to answer specific questions relating to the Bible and the doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses. He always said he would get round to answering them, but never did. I still vividly remember the morning when I turned up at his home carrying my uniform in a paper carry bag with string handles in my left hand, and a full page of questions needing answers in my right hand. When he opened the door and invited me in, I said, "First, will you promise right now to answer just one of these questions, proving Jehovah's Witnesses are wrong? If you do I'll never have another study with them. But if you won't, here's my uniform." I still remember standing on his doorstep, dumbfounded, when he took my uniform and replied, "I hope we see you back again one day," and shut the door. To me that answered all the questions in one go. He had no answer, so I turned on my heels and walked out on my Salvation Army life for good. I was encouraged by the local 'witnesses' who commiserated with me, but said it was what they had expected, and thus I got baptized into The Watchtower 'organization,' and began my new life as one of Jehovah's Witnesses.
In case you are wondering, I do not hold a grudge against that Salvation Army officer at all. I believe that he was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and I don't think there was a thing he could have done about it. God wanted me to take the course I took for a specific reason. But at the time I thought it proved that what Jehovah's Witnesses were saying about the churches was right.
One thing that The Watchtower teaches is that all the churches have failed God, and Jehovah God chose The Watchtower 'organization' to be His representative and sole channel of communication on Earth. The Watchtower always paints the worst church scenario, and labels all denominations, Catholic and Protestant, with the same label, 'Christendom.'
Within a short time I resigned from the apprenticeship Dad had got me into, and was 'pioneering.' (A term Jehovah's Witnesses use for going from door to door on a full-time basis.) Leaving my apprenticeship caused an uproar in our home, for Dad was really very disappointed, and it ended up me leaving home. Now to me, I thought I was being persecuted for Jehovah, and I was encouraged in this view by the local 'witnesses,' and I felt quite proud to be receiving such persecution for God. It somehow proved I was in the right 'organization.'
So began my 23 year association with Jehovah's Witnesses. If you are wondering about my use of the term 'association,' then let me tell you it is a Watchtower term. Actually it fits rather better than 'fellowship,' because in reality there is no real 'fellowship,' within Watchtower congregations. Yes there is love, but not that 'inner gut feeling' for each other. Every one is a little distanced from each other. In early Watchtower days it may have been different, but since the promotion of 'obedience to the mother organization,' everyone is very watchful, and careful not to upset God's 'organization,' and perhaps be thrown out, resulting in death at Armageddon (The Watchtower term for 'God's world-wide war against wickedness, sometime in the near future). Everyone is careful, and dare not get too 'close' to another 'witness,' just in case they report you for some infringement to the local J.W. elders.
I really enjoyed my association with Jehovah's Witnesses, and in the main I found them to be a loving, dedicated, sincere, and very zealous, people. They are certainly hard workers, and do their best to provide for their families. I really thought I was 'in the truth,' and enjoyed 'pioneering' in Hounslow (Middlesex), Cardigan (Wales), Teddington (Middlesex), and Kingston upon Thames (Surrey). It was in Kingston that I met and married the most wonderful girl in the world, and we brought up our son and daughter to be Jehovah's Witnesses themselves. I loved the 'organization,' and did everything by the book.
During all the years that followed, Dad was writing to me, trying to get me to leave The Watchtower Society of Jehovah's Witnesses. Often our confrontations would be very heated, and I recall the time I wrongly ordered him from my home. So when I received his letters I did little but give them a cursory glance, often not even answering them, or simply sending him some Watchtower literature as a reply. After all, he'd had a study once, and had since then even attended a few meetings in the Kingdom Hall. But he was deliberately rejecting Jehovah's truth and people. Whereas I was 'in the truth.' It was as simple as this; I was right, Dad was wrong.
But things began to change in March 1983. My Dad sent me a booklet entitled 'The Scholastic Dishonesty of The Watchtower Society.' I immediately 'binned' the booklet, for I knew that God's 'organization' supported the Bible, so the booklet must have been a 'tissue' of lies and misquotations. But I did read Dad's letter, and in it he told me that he'd read the booklet and believed it was true. But if I found anything wrong in it, he would have a study again, and go regularly to the Kingdom Hall. "Got him," I thought. It would be easy to prove that the booklet was telling lies, so I retrieved the booklet from the bin, and set out to prove it wrong, so that I could get Dad into 'the truth,' and prevent him dying at Armageddon.
The doubts began to creep into my thinking when I found difficulty in proving the booklet wrong. Everything they were saying, they were also proving. Now after 23 years in the 'organization' I had a comprehensive library, and was able to check out what the booklet was saying. I had all the Bible versions they quoted from, and began to have doubts.
For example, the booklet referred me to John 8:58, 59, where Jesus tells the Jews, "Jesus said unto them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM. Then took they up stones to cast at him, but Jesus hid himself..." (King James version.) The reason the Jews wanted to stone Jesus was because they knew their Scriptures, and knew that God had told Moses His own name. "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me to you." (Exodus 3:14.) The Jews realized that Jesus was telling them that He was the "I AM," and they treated that as blasphemy. And that wasn't the only time He'd given that impression, and hadn't denied it. (See John 5:8; 10:33.)
But both John 8:58,59 and Exodus 3:14 do not read the same in the Bible produced by The Watchtower Society. Theirs reads, "Most truly I say to you, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been." (John 8:58 New World Translation [NWT].) "This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, 'I SHALL PROVE TO BE has sent me to you'." (Exodus 3:14 NWT Capitals in their text.) A very different version. But which was true? The Watchtower Society had produced a Kingdom Interlinear Bible which gave the Greek of the New Testament on the left hand side of each page, with the literal English words beneath the Greek, and their own translation in a column on the right hand side of each page. When I checked up their own Interlinear I discovered that they hadn't translated the term "I AM" from the Greek into their own translation. It was in the Greek, but not in their Bible.
In the explanation of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation, page 5, The Watchtower Society tells us:-
"Sincere searchers for eternal, life-giving truth desire an accurate understanding of the faith-inspiring Greek Scriptures, an understanding that is fortified by the knowledge of what the original language says and means. The purpose behind the publishing of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures is to aid such seekers of truth and life. Its literal interlinear English translation is specially designed to open up to the student of the Sacred Scriptures what the original koine Greek basically or literally says.In this case, and others, they hadn't given us the correct literal understanding of the Greek, in spite of their claim. They hadn't kept true to their explanation. But they did give various footnote answers:
Above is the footnote to John
8:58 in the Kingdom Interlinear 1969 edition page 467. It
is telling us that the term 'ego eimi' is not the same as the term 'ho
Ohn,' meaning ... I AM at Exodus 3:14,
Yet when we do turn to Exodus 3:14, a footnote (shown below) to the 1953 edition (single volumes) tells us something different:
In one place The Watchtower Society tells me that 'ego eimi,' the Greek literally translated as 'I AM,' is not the same as the 'I AM' found in Exodus 3:14. Yet in their translation, 'I AM' does not appear in Exodus 3:14 - simply another footnote to try to explain its disappearance.
In other places in The Watchtower Bible 'ego eimi' is translated as 'I am.'
Can you imagine my inner disturbance at finding out that The Watchtower Society, which claimed to be God's 'organization' had played about with God's Word, The Bible? I have gone to some length to explain this point, which is but one of many, in case you, my reader are one of Jehovah's Witnesses, so that you can check these things out for yourself.
My conclusion was that The Watchtower Society produced the Kingdom Interlinear Translation supposedly so that we Bible students could get the correct understanding of the Greek words, and know the truth. But The Watchtower Society was deliberately hiding a vital truth from us, by tampering with the Word of God it was supposed to support, and from which it claims to teach.
There was no way I could tell my wife these things, because I didn't want to believe them myself. Just suppose I was being 'duped' by Satan all along, that The Watchtower Society was right and all the churches wrong, but had I told my family and they lost their faith in Jehovah's 'organization' on my false conclusions. Where would that leave them or me? All I knew was that I began to mistrust The New World Translation, so I started using my old King James Version again.
The name Jesus kept 'popping' out of the page of the Bible at me, and it seemed plain that the Jesus I'd been shown through the pages of Watchtower literature was very different from the Bible Jesus. Still I didn't want to believe that I wasn't 'in the truth,' for where else would I go? So being a good 'witness' I asked the local J.W. elders to help me out. But none of them would look at any of the personal research I'd done. "That's evil slave material," they told me. "But it is mostly photocopies of Watchtower material," I replied. But still they wouldn't look at it. Instead they suggested I restudied the Bible with them, using one of their publications, 'The Truth Book.' That's what happened then. I really wanted them to prove I had got everything totally wrong, and that The Watchtower Society was really being used by God, and they hadn't 'doctored' their Bible version. The study lasted about three weeks, perhaps four. The discerning elder asked if I doubted the 'organization' was God's 'organization.' I told him that he was there to build up my confidence in it once more. Then came the really fateful evening when the elder taking me through 'The Truth Book' said, "You haven't come to believe Jesus is God, have you?" I then went to point out a Scripture that had come to mean something different to me. In their Bible, John 5:19 says,
"Therefore, in answer, Jesus went on to say to them: 'Most truly I say to you, The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing. For whatever things that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner'." John 5:19, New World TranslationAs a 'witness' I had used that text to prove to people that Jesus couldn't have been God, otherwise he would have been able to decide things for Himself. Now I saw that if Jesus really did do things exactly as the Father did them, He must have been God. Only God can do things like God. Everyone else, however highly exalted, couldn't match the works of God. I then discovered passages where Jesus clearly did make His own decisions. Guess what! The elder didn't like my conclusions. He slammed shut the study book, picked up his raincoat from the back of a chair, and had left my home before I had a real chance to stop him. That was the end of the studies. I was amazed. I had been taught that the truth could be challenged and come out successfully every time. 'The Truth Book', page 13, 1968 edition says:
".........because they teach commands of men as doctrines." (Matthew 15:9) Since we do not want our worship to be in vain, it is important for each of us to examine his religion.My wife and family returned late that night, and I began to tell her what I had found out, but she interrupted me and said she'd been told by the elders not to discuss anything scriptural or spiritual with me. If I forced my opinions onto her she told me she would leave me. And that was it! I had thought that I'd be able to discuss these serious things with my wife, but the elders had shut that door firmly for me.
5 We need to examine, not only what we personally believe, but also what is taught by any other religious organization with which we may be associated. Are its teachings in full harmony with God's Word, or are they based on the traditions of men? If we are lovers of the truth, there is nothing to fear from such an examination. It should be the sincere desire of every one of us to learn what God's will is for us, and then do it. - John 8:32"'Truth Book,' page 13, 1968 edition
Soon afterward, in April 1983, Dad invited me to go to see a Christian
film, which I did. At the end of the film I went and looked at the literature
counter, where I was given some free literature and a tape. Back at Dad's
home that evening, I sat and listened to the tape called, 'What Happened
at the World Headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Spring of 1980.'
Trust,' phone 0208-332-7785, fax 0208-332-0286.) I cried
when I heard the tape, for I recognized the sound of truth. The next day
I 'phoned the man who'd given me the tape, and made arrangements to visit
him. There for the very first time I found out that The Watchtower Society
has always been a false prophet.
The false prophet tells modern-day 'witnesses' that Christ Jesus returned invisibly in 1914. They have never seen the quote below, from a 1924 issue of The Watchtower:
Many 'witnesses' doubt that this is a true quote. Well, this is directly from the original. They even confirmed this as the meaning in the book'God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years has Approached' (1973).
ITS MEANING TO THE CHURCH"Surely there is not the slightest room for doubt in the mind of a truly consecrated child of God that the Lord Jesus is present and has been since 1874; that the harvest has been in progress during that time; that most of the saints have now been gathered. Therefore, can there be a reasonable doubt about the early completion......"from The Watchtower, January 1st, 1924, page 5.
"From that understanding of matters, the "chaste virgin" class began going forth to meet the heavenly Bridegroom in the year 1874, as they believed him to have arrived in that year and to be from then on invisibly present. They felt that they were already living in the invisible presence of the Bridegroom. Due to this fact, when Charles T. Russell began publishing his own religious magazine in July of 1879, he published it under the title "Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence." He had already become familiar with Wilson's The Emphatic Diaglott, which translated the Greek word parousia as "presence," not "coming," in Matthew 24:3 and elsewhere. The new magazine was heralding Christ's invisible presence as having begun in 1874. This presence was to continue until the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, when the Gentile nations (.....continuing on page 188.....)A long quotation but I wanted to prove that The Watchtower's record as a prophet is a failure from the start. Jesus didn't come invisibly in 1874, neither were the Gentile nations destroyed in 1914. Instead The Watchtower changed the date of Christ's invisible presence to 1914.
would be destroyed and the remnant of the "chaste virgin" class would be glorified with their bridegroom in heaven by death and resurrection to life in the spirit. Thus the class pictured by the five wise virgins would enter through the door into the wedding."'God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years has Approached', 1973, pages 187-188
|".....kingdom of God. He had a "prophet" to warn them. This "prophet" was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah's Christian witnesses. They are still proclaiming a warning, and have been joined and assisted in their commissioned work by hundreds of thousands of persons who have listened to their message with belief.|
|Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as
a "prophet" of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that
this can be done is to review the record. What does it show?"
(from The Watchtower, April 1st, 1972, page 197)
So I continued to check the record, and I can honestly tell you that the record of The Watchtower prophet is 100% failure. Just read some of their prophecies:-
Scripture tells us,
"When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously; thou shalt not be afraid of him."Deuteronomy 18:22 AV.
Fear of displeasing the 'organization' is uppermost in the minds of Jehovah's Witnesses because they have been taught that only faithful Jehovah's Witnesses will survive Armageddon. Faithfulness is shown by obedience and loyalty to the 'organization.'
Just read some of the fear-inspiring statements from Watchtower publications:
Their support for the 'organization' is also compelled by the
fact that if they were to be thrown out, or disagree and walk out, there
is no possible spiritual refuge for them anywhere else. They know how ex-Jehovah's
Witnesses are to be treated, and they don't want to share the same fate.
There has been a subtle change in motivation. When I first became a
'witness' I had a genuine desire to reach out to others because if they
didn't become associated with Jehovah's 'organization' they would die at
Armageddon. I loved the door to door work, and that is why I 'pioneered'
in one form or another for 13 years. However, as the years went by, and
The Watchtower Society stressed more and more the
importance of obedience to the 'organization,' the motivation was to please
the 'organization,' rather than meet the needs of people, spiritually.
I can give you a firm example of this.
A sister had a hysterectomy, and because of another blood-related problem, was on her back for two months, physically unable to get on to her feet, and very weak. Her first meeting after that operation was at 'New Things Learned,' a special Saturday evening meeting, where the travelling minister, the Circuit Servant, encouraged the congregation. In our congregation there were several 'witnesses' who were 'irregular' (a term meaning that they hadn't reported any door to door activity for more than a month), and the Circuit Servant berated anyone who couldn't be bothered to 'witness' for God even for an hour in a month. "Such ones don't deserve to live through Armageddon into Jehovah's wonderful New World." The sister burst into tears because she felt so terrible about not 'witnessing' for two months, even though she had been very ill.
You see, sometimes the 'organization' is held over the heads of 'witnesses' as an incentive to do more.
The date was June 7th, 1983. I had suddenly realized that Jesus had already paid the penalty for my personal sin, and was inviting me to come to Him for peace, rest and assurance. And that's exactly what I did, right there in my own front room. It didn't matter any more what the 'organization' thought. I had proved that it wasn't God's 'organization' at all, and never had been. And though The Watchtower Society practises disfellowshiping, throwing dissenters out, Jesus doesn't. He promised:-
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." John 6:37. (AV)The Watchtower Society couldn't decide whether I lived or died. They didn't have the authority to make such a decision. Jesus did.
"For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life." John 5:22-24. (AV)What a wonderful Scripture. I had the assurance of eternal life. Jesus didn't have to die again, sometime in the future; my hope for eternal life wasn't held in reserve, in case I failed at the last hurdle. Jesus has already paid the price for my sins.
I suddenly woke up to my wonderful position, and couldn't wait to share my testimony with my wife and family when she came home. Sadly they were so late getting home, that when they finally came in I lacked the courage to tell them. But the next day, when the elders came round, and after a nearly three hour battle, I handed them my letter of resignation.
Problems began after I told my wife that I'd been 'born again' on the Tuesday and resigned on the Wednesday. My dear wife couldn't cope with this. She moved her bed into my daughter's room, and the whole family then refused to eat with me, be in the same room as me, or even speak to me. However, after about 6 months, my wife realized that I hadn't turned into the monster that was expected, and returned to our bedroom. Since then, though she still has no idea just what caused me to leave the 'organization,' such discussion is still taboo, she is a wonderful wife, and our love for each other has grown and grown, and we call ourselves "recycled teenagers."
I believe that when we were married, God made us one in a very special sense, and He doesn't save half a person, so one day, in His good time, I believe my wife will join me in Jesus. In the mean time I shall continue to share my testimony with any who want to hear how wonderful Jesus really is.
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me." - John 14:6. (AV)I have tried the 'works syndrome' of The Watchtower Society. I had lived under the authority of the 'organization' for 23 years, and found it lacking. I discovered Jesus when I simply read a decent Bible. I am free in Jesus now.
"And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.... If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." - John 8:33,36. (AV)
Why not give Jesus a chance. He loved you so much He gave His life as a sacrifice in your place, even before you were born. I did, and it changed my life 100%.
||Bill Browning went to be with the Lord
on Monday, 10th December, 2001.