Part One (of three).
You have the truth, but no one will listen to you because the authorities they trust have told them that you are a wicked liar in league with the devil.
What do you do? How can you break through that wall of prejudice that has been erected against you and your truth? How do you reach these people, who through no fault of their own–other than the fault of trusting their authority figures–have been blocked from even hearing your message?
Perhaps you could read them quotes such as these from the Watchtower, which point out the importance and fairness of considering opposing viewpoints:
We need to examine, not only what we personally believe, but also what is taught by any religious organization with which we may be associated. If we are lovers of the truth, there is nothing to fear from such an examination.
–The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life, p. 13 (WBTS, 1968)
If you were on trial in a court of law, would it be fair if only your opponent was allowed to present evidence? No, you would surely want the court to hear your side of the matter …. Reasonable persons agree that the only fair method is to examine the evidence on both sides, both for and against a disputed theory. That is how one arrives at the truth.
–Awake! October 22, 1973 p. 6 (WBTS)
Every man should be persuaded in his own mind and no man should permit himself to be deterred from examining a question based upon the Bible because a clergy man or any one else makes the unsupported assertion that it is dangerous or unworthy of consideration. Error always seeks the dark, while truth is always enhanced by the light. Error never seeks to be investigated. Light always courts a thorough and complete investigation.
– Millions Now Living Will Never Die p. 13 (WBTS)
I love those quotes. They eloquently express the need for openness in our truth-seeking, and the importance of never closing off our minds to examining the evidence on both sides of an issue. I commend the Watchtower for taking this stand for tolerance and reason. Surely these are words for all of us to live by.
A Case in Point
I well remember when I was first starting to associate with the Witnesses. My mother was opposed, and she brought me to a public talk by a minister of Christendom. His topic that day was Jehovah’s Witnesses. He railed so ardently against the Witnesses that you would’ve thought such vehemence was best reserved for Satan himself.
I don’t recall his exact words, but he said things to the following effects:
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not sincere in their beliefs; they have been feasting at Satan’s table instead of the Lord’s table. They don’t come to your door in order to spread the Good News of the Gospel, but rather to manipulate your mind and undermine your faith. They seek to discredit the Lord’s people and our work through their lies. They are, in fact, the spawn of Satan, and act as Satan’s helpers as they actively spread his lies throughout the Earth, seeking to lead the Lord’s people astray. They are wicked deceivers whose falsehoods spread like a plague across the world.
Do not listen to them, my friends! Listening to them is the same as feasting at Satan’s table yourself. Do not read their literature, do not invite them into your homes. If one approaches you, emulate Christ our Lord by turning your back on them and crying out: “Get thee behind me, Satan!”
After that speech, and as we were milling about the vestibule of the church, my mother introduced me to some of her church friends who had also just heard the talk. “This is my son, the one who has been listening to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Of course they all appeared shocked and said they’d pray for me. It was very frustrating! I felt I had the truth but that their minister had in effect just stuffed wads of cotton in their ears. All I could say was that I thought it made sense to listen to both sides and then decide who was lying and who was telling the truth. But I doubt that anyone acted on that sentiment. If they had, my next step would’ve been to ask the minister (whom my mother also introduced me to) to provide evidence of lies told by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Then I would’ve examined his evidence to see if the Witnesses had actually said such things, and if they had whether those things were true or not. But, of course, I never got the chance.
The book I studied in preparation for baptism was Things in Which it is Impossible for God to Lie. It contained another great quote about the truth:
Truth does not contradict itself or deny the facts. It does not go contrary to reality… It does not change because of location or time. The truth is provable by actual fact. The truth endures, persists, because it is genuine, actually existing, in harmony with reality.
– Things in Which it is Impossible for God to Lie p. 22
I took that to heart: “the truth does not change because of location or time.” So, at no time in the future would it ever stop being true that the method for obtaining the truth would be to listen to both sides.
I made up my mind that I wouldn’t be dissuaded from reading the Watchtower publications just because some people called them liars or Satan’s helpers. I would read those publications, as well as opposing viewpoints, and decide for myself which was the truth. Since the truth doesn’t change over time, nothing would ever stop me from this fair examination of both sides.
Next: Don’t miss Part Two: My BIG Surprise: The Real Dilemma!!