This week I attended the local Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation, and noticed that one of the speakers was holding the newest version of What Does the Bible Really Teach?, a glossy silver-colored book. I had with me the previous version, the yellow-colored book. I knew of the cover change from jw.org, but I decided to use the situation to my advantage. After the meeting I approached the man at the book counter and asked if they had the newer version available. He gladly provided me with one. I then asked, “Does the new edition correct the mistake that’s in the previous version?”
“What mistake would that be?” he asked. I showed him page 42, which says that the “life” of Michael was transferred to Jesus. “That’s obviously impossible, isn’t it?” I asked. “Why?” he asked. I showed him my printout from Insight, vol.2, page 52 (available at http://www.jw.org), which elaborates that it was the “life force” of Michael that was transferred to Jesus. “How can that be, since it is taught that the life force is impersonal energy, and is not part of the person?”
There was a moment of speechlessness on his part, then he asked, “What does it say in the new version of the book?” We both looked at page 42 in the newer “Bible Teach” book, which of course still says the exact same thing as the previous edition. No change has been made. I asked, “Do you know if they’re planning on correcting that error?”
His response indicated that he had misheard my question. “Oh, when are they going to correct it?” he asked. I said, “No, I haven’t heard anything about a possible correction. I was asking if you knew of a change that might be coming. Have you heard anything about their correcting this mistake?”
“Um,” his response began, but then he was distracted by a congregation member’s question. (I think he chose to be distracted.)
This might be the first time anyone has shown him an obvious mistake in the Watchtower literature. I pray that it will continue to bother him. Meanwhile, I think I have found a new tool, which is: Saying things that JW’s wouldn’t be caught dead saying. No less than three times in the conversation I used words like mistake and error. I’m free to be so crass, because they know that I’m not one of them. They expect that a worldly non-JW will have no clue that you don’t dare question the governing body, or suggest that they could possibly be teaching something that’s a mistake or an error. As outsiders, we have the freedom to point out inconsistencies in their own system, as found in their own literature. If one of their own did the same, they would be reported to the elders for “not trusting those who are taking the lead,” or “running ahead of what’s written.” But I can get away with the practice, and suffer no consequences. And I’m still their friend! This was not the first time I used this technique, and it won’t be the last. It’s a powerful tool.