Several times, when presented with one of my stumper questions, I have had Jehovah’s Witnesses respond by asking me: “Have you written to the branch?” It’s one of their avoidance tactics used when they don’t know how to respond. (Ooh, I sense another post coming on: Avoidance Tactics. Coming soon.) My initial response to that question is always “What’s the branch?” I want them to know that newbies to their world are not familiar with their lingo, and they need to be more sensitive and helpful. By “Branch” they mean the Jehovah’s Witness / Watchtower headquarters in Brooklyn, NY. After several suggestions that I do this, I started to wonder what would happen if I took them up on it. So I did it.
See the copy of my letter dated March 10, 2016, attached. I went to http://www.jw.org and clicked on the “write to us” link at the bottom of the page. That give me their address. I then wrote up my letter and dropped it in the mail. Snail mail, that is; the US Postal Service. They have nothing set up to send them a note online, nor is there an email address. Anyway, my honest expectation was that I would get either a form letter from them, or no response at all. My prayer was that whomever opened and read the letter at HQ would be the one impacted by the truth. Who knows how that prayer is being answered.
Anyway, fast forward to this last Saturday (April 30). I had just exited my home, heading for my car to run an errand, and here came two Jehovah’s Witnesses to meet me. They were both from the local congregation, and I remembered one of them (Darrin), but hadn’t met the other one (Bruce) that I was aware of. I asked if they were making the rounds in the neighborhood, and Darrin replied “No, we came to see you specifically.” Then he explained that I had written to the branch, and that often the answer to a letter takes the form of a personal visit.
My mind raced. Had I said anything in the letter that would blow my cover? Had I been aggressive, or sarcastic, or indicated in any way that I was a “hostile opposer”? I was relieved that Darrin and Bruce gave no indication that I had been any of those. They were only there to see if they could provide answers to my questions. Whew.
My question (as you can read in the copy of the letter) in its simplest form is: What was transferred from Michael to Jesus, since it could not have possibly been the life force, which they say is impersonal energy and no part of the person from which it is taken. The Watchtower literature contradicts itself, saying that for us humans the life force is not a part of us that could be transferred to anyone, while for Jesus the life force was a part of Michael that was transferred to Jesus.
So did Darrin and Bruce provide adequate answers? No. Not even close. They seemed to think that showing me the very passages in What Does the Bible Really Teach? and the Insight book that I had quoted in my letter, would be adequate answers. They didn’t seem aware that I had already read, and even quoted, those passages, as though it would be new, enlightening information for me. When I presented to them the contradictions that I had mentioned in my letter, it was as if I was starting from scratch with them. The Branch had not equipped them in any way to provide an explanation for the problem I had presented. They attempted to give me answers using their own reasoning, but their answers were merely deflections rather than reasoned solutions. They wanted me to focus on what the transfer accomplished (sinless perfection, ransom sacrifice), rather than any problems I might notice with the transfer itself. It’s the usual “Don’t confuse me with the facts” mentality of most JW’s. The way they deal with problems is to not deal with them, and instead try to focus on something (anything) else.
But what an interesting Saturday surprise! On the one hand I’m impressed with the organization’s response. While I expected no response, they dispatched a local contact to meet personally with the me, the questioner. On the other hand, I’m disappointed with (but not surprised at) the lameness of the response. What’s the point of sending someone around to NOT respond to the hot prospect’s actual question? If anything it teaches the potential candidate that your questions and concerns will NOT ever be addressed directly.
The positive takeaways far outweigh the downers, though. God used my letter experiment to influence at least three Jehovah’s Witnesses: The reader of the letter at headquarters, plus Darrin and Bruce. Who knows how many others read the letter along its meandering path, both at headquarters, and at the local kingdom hall? May the Lord speak to each of them to draw them away from the Watchtower and toward himself.