“Craig,” a Jehovah’s Witness acquaintance of mine (a friend of a JW friend), texted me after I attended the most recent JW Memorial. “Hey, glad to see you there,” etc. Then he asked, “Would you like to have a Bible study with me?”
“Sure!” I said, knowing how tedious the Watchtower material is. And I knew the truth, that what they call a “Bible study” is actually a study of Watchtower materials, with isolated proof-texts wrenched from their biblical contexts to “prove” the Watchtower teachings. So why would I jump at the chance of attending a JW “Bible study”? Most Christians would avoid it like a rabid skunk. But I was hoping (even praying) for such an opportunity!
Notice the title of my blog. “UndercoverJW.” That tells you something. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not secretly infiltrating them, nor could I. They can spot a non-JW from across a kingdom hall. But I do pretend to be an interested Bible student (which is true) and a possible recruit (which will only happen when mutant pigs sprout wings and fly). In the past I avoided Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now I seek them out. (Only God can do that. Yes, I believe in miracles.)
I have attended three “Bible study” sessions now with Craig (by Zoom), so I need to get you up to speed! I’ll give an account of how each session goes. Keep in mind that he is trying to convert me using the Watchtower’s indoctrination content and techniques, and I’m trying to influence him with the truth as it naturally comes from scripture.
So here we go! Lesson One, several weeks ago now.
The lessons are from their new book, Enjoy Life Forever!, which is what they are now using with new recruits. (Previously they used What Can the Bible Teach Us?) I found that each lesson gave me plenty of opportunities to plant seeds with Craig. So here’s how it went, in a sort of play-by-play format.
Lesson 01, “How can the Bible help you?”
- “What are some questions that the Bible answers?” (I just agreed with this paragraph; nothing stood out here.)
- “How can the Bible help us enjoy our daily life?” Here I took advantage of the verse quoted, 2 Timothy 3:16, pointing out that the Bible has what we need as individuals to improve our lives. We don’t need anyone to interpret scripture for us; it’s understandable and applicable to each of us. I also shared that I appreciated the statement “This publication does not replace the Bible.” I talked about our need to read and study the Bible, accepting its authority, and that we don’t need any other materials to learn from the Bible.
- “The Bible can guide us.” I jumped on this picture, saying that it reminded me of a verse in Proverbs 4 (one of the JWs’ pet verses!) First I affirmed Psalm 119:105, about the Bible being a light to our paths as individuals. Then I found and quoted Proverbs 4:18, which talks about the path of our individual walk with God becoming brighter as we learn from and submit to the truth of his word. (Very contrary to the JW claim of “the light [of their Bible interpretation] getting brighter and brighter” based on the misinterpretation of this verse. I even mentioned that the Mormons claim this verse to justify their concept of what they call “progressive revelation.” Oh, those misguided Mormons!) The Watchtower’s use of Psalm 119:105 and the accompanying picture are perfect for debunking their twisting of Proverbs 4:18, while feigning ignorance about their doing just that. I would call this part of Lesson 1 a Hot Opportunity!
- “The Bible can answer our questions.” This part of the lesson included a video about a teacher who struggled with questions, specifically the problem of pain and suffering. A student in her class led her to becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. Then the lesson asked, “What questions do you have that the Bible may be able to answer?” When Craig asked me this question, I said, “I want to know whether Jehovah treats all believers the same, because I hear from my other JW friends that there may be two classes of believers, which I think might be a problem.” He said we would address that question later.
- “You can enjoy reading the Bible.” I just used this section to gush about the Bible, how I love reading and studying it. Craig expressed how different I was from most people, in that I already have a strong interest in the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses typically think that no one else but them has interest in the Bible.
- “Others can help us understand the Bible.” This section is an obvious ploy of the JW’s to plant the thought that we need outside help to understand the Bible, which feeds into their agenda to make people dependent on their materials. I took the story of Philip and the Ethiopian in a different direction (one more true to the context of the story), pointing out that Philip was acting on his own, apart from any organization, explaining truth using scripture only and no other materials. To the question “Some people say studying the Bible is a waste of time. What do you say?” I took the opportunity to gush about the Bible again, telling a story of when someone asked me why I read the Bible every day. My answer was that it was for me a connection to reality. My hope with Craig was that he would see that I have a living, vital relationship with God and his Word.
- Craig and I read through the Summary section very informally, because by this time he was quite aware of how I would answer the very basic questions there.
All this time with Craig, I feared that he would think I was not “right-hearted” or “rightly disposed” or “worthy” of continuing. (Meaning that they are instructed to spend time only with those who are open to swallowing their message without questioning anything.) I tried to bring up my challenges in a way that made it sound like I’m willing to learn and discuss (which I am). When he asked if I wanted to meet at the same time next week, I was greatly relieved and pleased. Seeds are being planted with Craig!