A Former Jehovah's Witness

  • user warning: Table './exmo_08072012/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: SELECT data, created, headers, expire, serialized FROM cache_filter WHERE cid = '1:f3df5a018aa603288b34ecaea25657f9' in /home/exmormon/public_html/d6/drupal/includes/cache.inc on line 27.
  • user warning: Table './exmo_08072012/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>This is an interesting story for Mormons to read - to see how JWs react to \"anti-JW\" material and how they treat those who leave the WatchTower. This is used with the permission of the author. He can be written to at: <a href=\"mailto:trinitas@aol.com\">trinitas@aol.com</a></p>\n<p>ONCE I WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE<br />\nSteve Berg</p>\n<p>I was raised as a Jehovah s Witness by my mother whose mother also raised her in the same way. My father, on the other hand, never was a Witness and did not think much of organized religion. When my mom was pregnant with me, she once again became serious about her own and her future family\'s spiritual concerns. She wasn\'t sure what was really true anymore, but she got down on her knees and prayed to God to show her which was the true religion. She looked at other faiths, but soon became convinced once again that the Jehovah\'s Witnesses were right. So, she found the local Kingdom Hall, made all new friends, and became an active member of the congregation and intended to raise her children in \"the truth\" as well.</p>\n<p>My dad, on the other hand, had a different idea in mind. Even though he didn\'t know a whole lot about true Christianity, he knew something was very wrong with the Jehovah\'s Witnesses. He became adamant about not letting my younger sister and I go with her to the meetings or out in service. For a period of about 5 years, I can vividly remember the two of them engaged in bitter arguments over this whole thing and my mom would always end up crying afterwards. My sister and I were much too young to understand what was going on. All we knew was daddy was being mean and not letting mommy take us to the meetings. My sister and I hated it when they would fight.</p>\n<p>Nevertheless, despite my dad\'s opposition, my mom was determined to teach us the \"truth.\" Many times when my dad was gone at work, she would spend time with us going through different Watchtower books. The little pink Great Teacher book was popular with us back then. And since my dad offered no alternative, we had no doubt as to what religion was true, and didn\'t even question it.</p>\n<p>Eventually, my dad gave in and stopped fighting with my mom about religion. I think he just stopped caring one way or another because he realized that he didn\'t have much reason to refuse anyway. By now he felt that since there were so many different religions in the world, there\'s no way you could put one above another. So, we started going to more meetings with my mom. But since I knew how my dad felt about the whole thing, I never wanted him to think that I was doing this out of my own choice but that it was just to make my mom happy. He really didn\'t know how seriously I actually did take it. As far back as I can remember, I would always pray to Jehovah, especially before meals and going to bed. No one ever knew that I was praying. I did it very secretively because I was afraid everyone would think I was more weird than I really was. I also was very interested in the Awake! articles and books like My Book of Bible Stories and the Paradise Lost book. Nothing excited me more than all the pictures of paradise so prevalent in WT literature, and nothing scared me more than the picture of Armageddon in chapter 25 of the Paradise Lost book. This terrifying picture stuck in my young mind more so than any other and I can remember just staring at it for long periods of time thinking that unless I become a better person, I\'m going to fall into the crack of an earthquake just like the people in this picture. And this picture would conveniently flash into my memory every time I forgot to pray or read Watchtower literature, or chose not to go to the meetings or go door-to-door with my mom or whenever I did something wrong.</p>\n<p>The fear, guilt, and confusion I experienced as a kid were enormous. I was torn between the faith of my mind and the desires of my heart, which were continually at odds with one another. Since my dad nor anyone from his side of the family were Witnesses, we were still allowed to celebrate holidays and birthdays. But as much as I really loved doing that, I knew in my heart of hearts that they were wrong, and I felt guilty for having truly enjoyed opening my Christmas presents with the other members of my family, eating Thanksgiving dinner and watching Fourth of July fireworks. I struggled daily at school wondering how to reconcile the conflict of either avoiding embarrassing myself in front of my classmates or showing true honor to Jehovah by refusing to pledge allegiance to the flag. The meetings at the Kingdom Hall were so tedious and boring, and to make matters worse, my mom would frequently point to other, even younger kids in the congregation who were able to sit still and even raise their hands to answer questions and then ask me why I couldn\'t be like that, since all I could do was squirm and hope the meeting would be over soon. Still I knew this was where Jehovah wanted me to be even though I couldn\'t comprehend what was being said, but I hated myself for hating to go; add to that the terrifying prospect of having to go door-to-door, something I was always too timid to get up the courage to do. It was almost too much for a little kid to handle who was just trying to figure out the difference between right and wrong.</p>\n<p>So, I learned how to compromise and rationalize my actions. I could justify all these things by not fully giving in to them. I celebrated the birthdays and holidays merely to pacify the unbelieving family, just like my mom would do. I would stand and hold my hand to my chest pretending to adjust my shirt and only move my lips making sure not to let any sounds come out when all the other kids were saying the pledge of allegiance. And I would often stay home from the meetings in order to accept the very noble responsibility of keeping my dad company. After all, it was always our hope of someday bringing him into the \"truth\", and we couldn\'t do that if he ever had any reason to despise it. Even though these excuses worked for the immediate situation, I knew that they were mere fabrications of my still corrupt heart.</p>\n<p>Because of such gross disobedience prevalent in my life, I knew the only way I could ever make it into paradise would be by the skin of my teeth. All the praying and studying I did meant nothing compared to the evil that infested my mind, body, and soul. I can remember my mom repeatedly telling me how she wasn\'t sure she would ever make it through Armageddon. Here was a woman who diligently read the Watchtower articles, went to most of the meetings, and went out in service as much as she could manage. This, then revealed to me an absolutely horrific truth. If she wasn\'t even sure she would make it, I knew there was no chance I ever would. And since Armageddon was so close, I truly believed I was doomed. I would cry and cry and cry over my hopeless condition and often wondered why I should even try to be better. There was no way I could ever be good enough. So, if I was going to be destroyed anyway, why not live it up? But something inside me didn\'t want to resign to that. I thought maybe Jehovah just might give me credit for trying. Yet, I think I always knew deep down inside, that it was a futile prospect.</p>\n<p>Instead of seeing my heavenly father as a loving, forgiving parent, I saw Him as an indignant judge, constantly watching me with a scale in front of him. On one side of the scale were all my good deeds, and on the other were all my bad ones. The imbalance of evil weighed so heavily against me that I thought I would have to almost become a totally different person in order to even start reversing it. Even as a young adolescent, I saw nothing good in me except the desire for the desire to be good and to do what\'s right.</p>\n<p>Eventually, the logical workings of this belief system coupled with my shy personality, led to a long bout of depression and self-loathing. I had always been the shortest boy in my class and last chosen for any gym teams. I also never had any kind of talents or hobbies. About the only thing I could do pretty well was to sit and watch TV all hours of the day, and even though I couldn\'t play piano or do play football, I could tell you exactly when The Brady Bunch was on. Unfortunately, being a living, walking TV guide didn\'t lend itself to the admiration of others. All this contributed to my feelings of worthlessness and inferiority. Beginning in middle school and right after the death of my grandmother, my self-esteem took an even deeper plunge. I had hardly any friends and found myself surrounded by kids who had all these great talents and abilities. I saw myself as an utter outcast, unfit for society. Not only was I not normal, I actually thought of myself as sub-human on a subconscious level. For whatever reason, I didn\'t deserve to be popular, to go out with other schoolmates, to be involved in extra-curricular activities or to have any friends. I couldn\'t even imagine being rebellious and partying all the time. I wasn\'t even good enough to be bad. And so the phrase \"self-respect\" was an absurd contradiction in terms as far as I was concerned.</p>\n<p>As my inferiority became more and more profound, I often found myself seriously contemplating suicide. And by now I was a total hypocrite. I claimed to love Jehovah and still tried to please him, (in fact when I was 14, I took a whole year to read straight through the New World Translation from cover to cover). But I also had become a foul-mouthed, rebellious brat with nothing but fear and contempt for the world around me. I saw myself as doing more harm to the people and the world around me than good. I was a waste of valuable space. In fact, I remember writing a poem called \"My Best Friend.\" The ironic thing was, I had no friends, and so I ended it by saying \"The only best friend I have is me, and I hate my best friend.\" Practically everything about me disgusted me and so reasons for continuing my existence became few and far between.</p>\n<p>As my mind started developing toward more abstract forms of thought, I often found myself wondering if this was all really true in the first place or if it was just some sort of nightmarish illusion that would disappear as soon as I woke up. But that wasn\'t the case. In fact, upon waking up, I usually felt such overwhelming emotions of dread. I can remember lying in bed at night, all alone feeling terribly scared because I literally thought I was going to go insane. I almost couldn\'t tell what was real anymore. It just didn\'t seem to make sense to me that life should hurt so much and be as confusing as it was. I lived in my own little world and no one else even knew about it since I didn\'t think anyone else would care or even understand it. Such questions as, \"Where is God through all this? Was I somehow overlooked? How could I be such a failure? Doesn\'t He even care about me?\" evolved into questions like, \"How do I even know if there really is a God? How do I even know that anything exists, including myself? Where do you even start to determine what is real and what isn\'t? What if this whole mess is nothing but an endless, torturous illusion designed to drive me crazy?\" For some reason, I was just plagued with this curse of having to analyze absolutely everything to death before believing it. And so coupled with my depression, I not only started doubting God s existence, but also the world around me, and I couldn\'t t even be sure of my own. For awhile I was so confused that I lost all sense of assurance that I wasn\'t going to wake up the next morning in some mental ward because I just did not fit in anywhere and was not meant for this world. Suicide seemed to be the only rational conclusion and it scared me stiff.</p>\n<p>However, in the midst of these satanic thoughts, way down in my heart, there was always something which prevented me from taking that last, tragic step. My world had become a tunnel, deep, dark, and damp. I was utterly alone, walking through it like a zombie having no purpose for continuing. Each step growing more and more weary. Yet, far, far ahead of me, I could see a faint glimmer of light. It compelled me and gave me at least some reason for going on, though I knew not what. And even though I couldn\'t tell if it was real or not, I at least had to find out. That light, though it seemed so far away, was hope.</p>\n<p>Since I wasn\'t sure as to what was true anymore, I thought that the only way I could ever be content and maintain my sanity would be to discover what \"TRUTH\" really is. And if it were \"true\" that no such thing as \"truth\" really existed, then I would see no reason for my existence. But, if there really WAS such a thing as \"truth\", I was bound and determined to find it. I had to find something that gave my life meaning, but it couldn\'t be some arbitrary choice. I wanted the ABSOLUTE TRUTH OF THE UNIVERSE and to know it for sure and nothing less would suffice. So I set out on this looooong journey which lasted about three years.</p>\n<p>While I wasn\'t sure of anything, I still believed in the back of my mind that if anything were true, it was the teachings of the Watchtower. I believed everything they taught, but it disturbed me that I didn\'t know why I believed what they taught. I realized that the main reason I believed this religion was because it was all I ever knew. I began this quest in search of \"the true religion.\" And started studying privately every Wednesday after school with a JW lady-friend of my mom\'s who would come over and spend an hour with me as we\'d go through some Watchtower literature. We started studying the Live Forever book, but it soon became obvious that my questions were much more basic than that. In my biology and other science classes at school, evolution was taught as a given; that that was just the way it is and there\'s no question about it. And I was really troubled by this, not because they were teaching it as fact, but because it actually made a lot of sense to me. It also bothered me that so many very intelligent people believed it, so why, then, shouldn\'t I? So we switched to the blue Evolution book. We spent months going through this book which I found fascinating and actually saw that it did do a pretty decent job of demonstrating the faultiness of evolution, at least enough to convince me. There was no way this universe was merely an accident. And it made much more logical sense to believe in God than not to.</p>\n<p>After discovering why my belief in a Creator was perfectly rational, I wanted to find out which of the major world religions accurately worshipped the true God. This manifested itself in the question of why should I believe the Bible to be the actual Word of God? I realized that just as I had taken belief in God\'s existence for granted, I had done the same thing with the Bible. So an opportunity presented itself during my sophomore year in high school. I decided to do my major research paper for the year on the reliability of the Scriptures based on the findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls. What I discovered left me dumbfounded. All the books (not necessarily from a Christian perspective) that I checked out from the library provided absolutely phenomenal evidence in support of the Bible\'s accuracy. The extremely minimal amount of differences over the thousands of years of being copied and recopied totally convinced me that it must have been by supernatural intervention that preserved this very unique book. Thus, I knew and had definite reasons to believe that Christianity was true.</p>\n<p>The next obvious question to surface was, which version of Christianity was true since there were so many of them including the Witnesses. This question didn\'t seem as tough as the others. Once I\'d discovered the truthfulness of the Bible, the Watchtower\'s interpretation of it was practically a given. It seemed so obviously true that proof and acceptance of Watchtower theology was merely a formality. Yet I still couldn\'t sufficiently answer the question, \"Why do I believe that the Jehovah\'s Witnesses have the truth?\" So, at first I went to the library and checked out some books on comparative religions and learned some of the basics behind them. Then I engrossed myself in Watchtower theology. I virtually memorized the Reasoning and Live Forever books until I thought I knew them cold. I started attending the meetings and book studies all on my own and despite my shyness even found myself contributing to the conversations. I finally reached the point where I was practically convinced that this was the True religion and so my investigation was nearly finished. I was about ready to commit myself wholeheartedly to becoming the best Jehovah\'s Witness I could since I knew in my heart of hearts that it was true. There was just one last step to climb, the one that actually put me over the edge.</p>\n<p>I felt this last step would be the crowning victory of my long search and confirmation of the truth. Now that I had convinced myself that the Watchtower was right, I needed the chance to demonstrate this to at least one other person who was not one of Jehovah\'s Witnesses. I reasoned in my mind that if this religion was really the Absolute Truth of the whole entire universe, then any open-minded, spiritually-concerned person could be shown this and would have to either accept it based on the evidence, or reject it in spite of the evidence. I felt so sure about my position that I was willing to take on anyone who disagreed with me and thought for sure I could prove them wrong.</p>\n<p>Still being a relatively shy and depressed kid, I didn\'t know how to start dialoguing with someone who fit the criteria I was looking for. For the most part, I was still very ashamed of my religious convictions in front of the other kids. So I basically had no idea how this last leg of my journey would ever be completed. My personality had denigrated so much that I acted as if I didn\'t care what anyone thought of me. Nearly every other word out of my mouth was fodder for sewer rats. I still hated everything and everyone, especially myself. So chances of my finding someone who would be interested in talking about religion with me seemed extremely remote.</p>\n<p>So I prayed; and I prayed; and I prayed. The dichotomy between my beliefs and my actions grew bigger and bigger. It almost felt as though at any moment I would split into two totally opposite people. But I knew that the only way this gap could be bridged would be by resolving this last remaining issue. I had to talk to someone other than a Jehovah\'s Witness and find out why they didn\'t believe the \"truth.\" I desperately asked Jehovah to put someone in my life, somehow, with whom I could honestly discuss these issues.</p>\n<p>It probably didn\'t take more than a month before this prayer was miraculously answered. I say \"miraculously\" because the sequence of events were far too fantastic to be mere coincidence. Today, whenever shades of doubt cloud my mind in terms of God\'s intervention in my life, I always look back to this period and think, \"There\'s no way He doesn\'t care about me.\"</p>\n<p>In my most dreaded class, the one in which both my physical and social ineptitude shone forth the brightest, (gym class), I happened to come into contact with another junior who didn\'t seem to care about my foul mouth, my unpopularity, or my \"loser\" appearance. He actually seemed to want to do things with me and talk to me (Gosh, what a concept!). We somehow always ended up on the same teams together like in volleyball and tennis. This is where we really got to know each other better.</p>\n<p>His name was Brad and as time wore on, situations kept arising that put us in closer contact with one another and we became pretty good friends. One time, he was driving me home and just out of the blue, I can\'t even remember the context of the conversation, he said something to me about his \"faith in the Lord\". Well, needless to say, this just blew me away! In my mind I jumped for joy thanking Jehovah for finally giving me the chance to prove to someone else why their religion was wrong and why mine was right! He didn\'t even have to talk very long before I was explaining to the poor guy God\'s original purpose for the earth even though it was late at night and we were almost home. Naturally, I went to bed that night utterly ecstatic thanking Jehovah for answering my prayers!</p>\n<p>As it turned out, Brad and I would spend many more long nights together eating pizza and trying to convert one another. I found out that he went to one of the local churches and had even grown up in it. So I thought I would surely be able to show him the error of his ways. He just never knew any other way and would surely become convinced of the truth of the Watchtower since it made so much sense. It would just be a matter of time.</p>\n<p>Well, my questions and problems with his religion eventually became too much for Brad to handle. So he asked me if I would like to meet his youth pastor. I thought about it for awhile, and, knowing that I might get in trouble for doing it, I said I would. And I became even more arrogant thinking, \"Wow! The chance to talk to a pastor! Maybe I can even bring him into the truth! I\'m sure he\'s just as deceived as Brad is. Boy, won\'t that shake up this church; this den of heresy? Maybe I could even turn this place into a Kingdom Hall! I mean, after all, with a sure-fire bazooka like this in your back pocket, those poor slobs in Christendom haven t got a chance!\" So I finally met this guy, Bob, that wolf from the Great Whore of Babylon. I even went to his church (without my mother\'s knowledge of this) to meet him. I can remember feeling so angry because of the people I saw there who were being led astray by such lies and stupid doctrines. I was so confident that any intelligent, thinking individual couldn\'t really believe in that ludicrous, pagan doctrine of the Trinity. For some reason, I hated this doctrine the most and I can remember the knot in my throat and the scowl on my face as I confronted this poor pastor whom I\'d just met with the words, \"How can you believe in the Trinity? Nowhere in the Bible does it say Jesus is God!\". . .Well, Bob was strangely calm and unthretened by my words. He paused for a second and coolly asked me, \"Are you a Jehovah\'s Witness?\"</p>\n<p>Stunned by his response, I asked, \"Yeah. How did you know?\" And he said, \"Well, Jehovah\'s Witnesses are usually known for having a problem with the Trinity.\" Having a \"problem\" with the Trinity?! What did he mean by that? How could you not have a \"problem\" with the Trinity? He was talking as if it were actually a logical belief. So he proceeded to give me a couple books to borrow dealing with cults. And I can remember thinking, \"\'Cult?!\' What do they mean, \'cult\'? This isn\'t a \'cult\'.\" I had never before seen Christendom\'s perception of my religion and was shocked to see that they weren\'t even threatened by it. Plus, the fact that within these two books which were very basic, the Jehovah\'s Witnesses were just one of many others being dealt with. All of a sudden my religion wasn\'t unique.</p>\n<p>This was just the first of many blows to follow. The next few months proved to be a living hell that nearly tore me apart. I started reading things in these two little books that I\'d never heard of before. I knew nothing about the history of the organization and some of their far out teachings. Charles Russell and his \"miracle wheat\" really upset and threw me as well as all the faulty dates that were set for Armageddon. At the time I never before heard of Russell and his Pyramidology and Rutherford\'s mansion in California where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were supposed to be resurrected back in 1925. I had no idea that it was impossible to find out who the translators of the New World Translation were and that absolutely no scholars except for the Witnesses accepted 607 B.C. as the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, which is what their 1914 date is so dependent upon.</p>\n<p>Even though these things were very disturbing, I was mainly interested in the theological differences. I couldn\'t believe how much sense some of the orthodox doctrines of Christianity which I had always flatly rejected actually made. I started to get panicked and obsessed with trying to defend my faith. I just had to prove the Watchtower right and fought tooth and nail to find anything I could in their defense. I found myself bringing stacks of books to school to read in between classes and in my spare time. I mean, I had the New World Translation, a King James Bible, the Reasoning and Live Forever books, and then these two cult books. I remember just going back and forth and back and forth in my mind. Whenever I thought I found a good argument by the JW\'s, I would sigh in relief and couldn\'t wait to shove it in Pastor Bob s face. And then I would read other things which seemed to refute Watchtower theology so well and I\'d get depressed and would get into some pretty heated discussions with my mom. Pretty soon, I was having more and more difficulty seeing the rationality behind Watchtower theology. And for the first time in my life, the whole foundation of my existence was shattering right underneath me, and I wasn\'t sure what to hang onto anymore.</p>\n<p>The more I read, the more desperate I became. I had many of what my mom referred to as \"secret meetings\" with Pastor Bob at Little Caesar\'s Pizza. I also had many discussions with other people from the church as well as people from the Kingdom Hall, especially my mom. In my own desperation of trying to defend the Watchtower and prove their theology, I somehow neglected her emotions and didn\'t realize until much later how devastating this whole experience was for her. She had always had high hopes for me for advancing within the organization; going to Bethel and one day becoming an elder. She also used to tell me how she thought I would probably be the only one to lead my dad into the Truth. Needless to say, this was just as much a traumatic time for her as it was for me. But I couldn\'t see her hurt. I was much too obsessed in my own world at this time that nothing else seemed to matter.</p>\n<p>I started to become very frustrated with some of the answers I was getting from the Watchtower. Some of the reasoning seemed pretty feeble, and while the Witnesses would make me feel foolish for thinking that the \"Trinitarians\" had any points at all, I just couldn\'t accept the response, \"Oh Steve. That\'s stupid\" as any kind of conclusive answer. However, I began to realize that such mockery was really the only foundation the Watchtower really had. And when I started realizing that their theology really didn\'t hold any water I also noticed a shift in my intentions.</p>\n<p>As the Watchtower theology sprouted more and more leaks I found myself finding more and more holes. And whatever it couldn\'t hold, the orthodox Christianity view could hold. Their answers, while difficult to accept at first, were actually intelligent and logical. The sheer biblical evidence for the deity of Jesus was overwhelming enough, but even things like immortality of the soul, the bodily resurrection, hell, and the personality of the Holy Spirit started to become more obvious.</p>\n<p>Yet, while I was intellectually assenting toward the Christian world view, my heart was still reluctant. I had become so proud of my JW faith on a totally rational level and since I had grown up with it, it wasn\'t something I could just throw out with the garbage. I mean, my whole purpose was to convert my friend, Brad, not the other way around. It would be like admitting defeat, not only to my new friends, but especially to myself if I were to give in. But probably worst of all, I knew that if I decided not to become a baptized Witness, my mom would take it as the ultimate slap in the face. Since she had honestly tried to raise her kids the best she could in the Truth, it was only natural that she would take such an act personally. I couldn\'t bear the thought of her thinking that she had been a failure in raising me. So I held on as long as I could.</p>\n<p>It didn\'t take long for me to realize, however, that I would be committing intellectual suicide by merely choosing to believe in something I couldn\'t honestly accept. This tension increased to the point where I was utterly weak and could only cry out to God that all I wanted was the Truth, no matter what that was.</p>\n<p>So here was this Christianity thing which made sense to me intellectually. But not only did it offer answers for my mind, but also for the deep longings of my heart. I had never before thought in terms of having a \"personal relationship\" with God. It made so much sense but I was always taught to think in terms of living forever in paradise. But slowly God began to show me how much deeper He wanted to go with me. Not only did He want to offer me longevity of life, He wanted me to know Him. In fact, John 17:3 even says that eternal life is... knowing... God. He wanted to reconcile that lost relationship with me which was destroyed by my sin. And the reality and gravity of the horror of sin became obvious to me. I knew that I was eternally separated from God and that there was nothing, absolutely nothing I could do to win His approval. He expected perfection from me, and I knew that was impossible. This is when I also realized the awesome significance of Christ\'s atonement for me. I saw how Jesus was much more than a mere example for me to live by and that His death did much more than give me a chance to gain eternal life. I realized that He actually took upon Himself the consequence of my sin and that when He died, He said, \"It is finished.\" There was no need for me to feel guilty anymore. He had paid the price in full. Such verses as John 3:16, \"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life\" and Colossians 2:8, 9 \"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast\" took on brand new meanings for me. I finally understood salvation in terms of forgiveness, rather than reward, something God did for me rather than something I have to do for Him. All He was asking from me was acceptance of His free gift because nothing that I could do would ever measure up. I knew that because of my sin, I deserved nothing less than eternal separation from Him, which the Bible calls \"hell,\" no matter how \"good\" of a person I was. But He loved me so much that He paid that price for me. And His love had no strings attached. Even though I was a wretched creature, He loved me just because He loved me. Totally and unconditionally.</p>\n<p>It seemed almost too good to be true. To think that I didn\'t have to go door to door; I didn\'t have to go to five meetings a week; I didn\'t have to read every single Watchtower article and best of all, I didn\'t have to unquestionably follow a man-made organization that had so much of its past to hide anyway. It sounded so freeing, so wonderful, so logical, and yet so humiliating. I was faced with a dilemma. The fundamental dilemma which keeps anyone from repentance: and that is, pride. I just couldn\'t admit I was wrong, but on the other hand, I was no longer left with any reasonable excuses. The Watchtower foundation had turned into quicksand, and I was sinking fast. So, finally at my wits end, after all the arguments were over and it was just me alone with God, sometime in the summer of 1986, I broke through that stubborn pride and jumped out of the sinking sand and onto the Solid Rock by giving my life over to Jesus Christ, who was now my Friend, my Savior, my Lord, . . .and my God.</p>\n<p>Jesus was someone totally different to me now. I had finally found true love as He Himself became the source of truth and love in my life. Never before did the Bible make so much sense to me as it did now. As opposed to my whole self-esteem being wrapped up in my own good works, it was now wrapped up in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He accepted me just as I was. I didn\'t have to prove my worthiness to Him (in fact, such a thing was impossible). His righteousness was poured out upon me as He took upon Himself my punishment on the cross.</p>\n<p>But along with this conclusion came the harsh realization that for the first 17 years of my life, I had been lied to by a man-made organization. The Jehovah\'s Witnesses never talked about the freedom we have in Christ, only about strict obedience to the Watchtower. They never talked about the gravity of my sin and my need for a savior, only about the fact that I was \"imperfect\" and that it was all Adam\'s fault. They never talked about the wonder of God\'s grace, only about the fact that time was so short and I better do what I can so that maybe I might be hid in the day of Jehovah. And they never talked about the ultimate fulfillment that is found in intimately knowing God. Their main focus always seemed to be hoping to live forever on a paradise earth with God merely being an afterthought. As opposed to fixing their eyes on Jesus as Hebrews 12:2 tells us to do, they told us to \"Keep our eyes on the prize\". It all seemed so utterly motivated by selfishness. I was more focused on the gift rather than the Giver. The only reason I used to care about what God thought of me was because I wanted to live in paradise, not because I loved Him. The love of Jehovah\'s Witnesses for their God is conditional. They love Him not because He first loved them, but because He promises them something that appeals to their carnal nature. I finally realized that the message of the Bible is not about doing what it takes to live forever in paradise, but about God taking away the tragedy of our sin so that we can live forever with him. It became so clear to me that the Watchtower had it all wrong.</p>\n<p>I didn\'t have to worry about Armageddon anymore. Since John 17:3 says that eternal life is knowing God; and I knew that I knew Him and that therefore, eternal life was already mine.</p>\n<p>And I never really knew about the clutches of the Watchtower\'s claws on the lives of their followers until good friends from the Hall yelled at me over the phone and threw me out of their homes, and especially when my own mother told me that she fully believed that if ever my pastor were to tell me to go kill all Jehovah\'s Witnesses, that I would come after her and wouldn\'t even think twice about killing her. And my heart was thoroughly crushed and my eyes rudely awakened when she told me through held back tears that it was like I wasn\'t even her son anymore. I had become a stranger in her eyes. I\'ll never forget these painful words.</p>\n<p>Yet deep in my heart of hearts, I knew the decision I\'d made was right. Not even the love of my mother was worth rejecting the love of my Heavenly Father. She was utterly devastated, and I was totally speechless. What could I say when I knew what I had put her through? Her emotions were dragged over the rocks during my intense struggle, and I was so overwhelmed in my own spirit, that I couldn\'t even see the turmoil of her heart. What could I say other than \"I\'m sorry. I\'m sorry for the cruelty of reality. I treated you wrong; but I don\'t regret the choice I made.\"</p>\n<p>As long as she remained one of Jehovah\'s Witnesses, we would be forever divided. The fundamental difference between us was all too clear to me. I couldn\'t deny it anymore. How ironic that the ultimate confession of the Absolute Truth of the universe is the worst blasphemous heresy in the ear of the Jehovah\'s Witness. The phrase, \"Jesus is Jehovah\" sends chills of horror down the spine of the Witness, but thrills of wonder in the soul of the Christian.</p>\n<p>[I must confess, that now the Trinity and the Deity of Christ are now my most favorite doctrines and anytime I get a chance to talk about it, I just jump on it. And, so I just wanted to say that ironically, I even found the most convincing evidence of Christ\'s deity in the pages of the New World Translation, of all places.]</p>\n<p>But if I could say anything to Jehovah s Witnesses today, it would be to not only not be afraid of the truth, but also, to not be afraid of the lies. If Satan has set before you poison from the table of demons as a recent Watchtower article referred to apostate material, then God will not allow you to die from it. But if you re not allowed to compare the good food with the poison, how are you going to know the difference? You could be eating the poison without even knowing it, even though it looks so good. And think about this, if someone were serving you poison, wouldn t they be the ones trying to keep you from checking out the good stuff? I m not afraid anymore to look at anything that challenges my beliefs. In fact, I want to look at it because I know the truth will stand and that if I m truly seeking after the truth, God will not let me be led astray. So, I want to encourage all Jehovah s Witnesses, if you really do believe that you have the truth, be bold and take a firm stand against all those other religions in the world that are attacking you and prove them wrong. Go ahead and look at the attacks made by these so-called apostates and opposers and defend your faith by exposing their lies. Grab that bull by the horns and logically refute its false claims; don t run away and ignore it.</p>\n<p>I remember when I was first beginning my search and after God had given me those books, a couple friends I had at school who were Witnesses were upset that I was reading them. One of them wrote me a note saying that I should be careful because she knew that even some of the anointed fallen away by reading something as simple as a newspaper article. At first, I thought she was right. But then I realized, Hey, wait a minute. If this stuff is not true and is nothing but a bunch of slanderous lies against the Watchtower, then I want to expose it for what it is. The truth will stand, and God will reveal it to me. But I don t know for sure that these books are lying. It is not a given that any religion is true, not even the Watchtower. But if it is, it will be able to withstand any amount of fair scrutiny.</p>\n<p>The war is over and I have dedicated my life to serving Christ by leading people out of false religions. It is my passion to share this good news with those who are lost in the cults, because the only Jesus that can save them, is the One who, though being God, came to this earth in human form, died on the cross, and rose bodily from the grave so that they, too might have eternal life which is knowing Him. And so you remember how much I once hated the Trinity? Well, now, out of God s sense of humor, He as provided for me a way to study at Trinity Divinity School where, though it s a financial and mental challenge, I m getting my master s degree in philosophy and church history focusing specifically on the doctrine of the Trinity in all my papers and thesis, all because I love it so much now. And I m finding out that, contrary to what the Watchtower says, the Trinity is not confusing. It can be explained and defended both philosophically and biblically. For instance, in regards to the deity of Christ, not only does John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16, 17 say that everything was created by Him and through Him, Isaiah 44:24 says specifically that Jehovah alone is responsible for creating the universe and that He was all by Himself when he stretched forth the heavens. Plus, Hebrews 1:10 also says that Jesus was the one who laid the foundations of the earth yet, this passage is actually a direct quote from Psalm 102 in which it is clear that it is Jehovah God who laid the foundations of the earth. Also, if we look at Matthew 26:14-16, we see that it was Jesus who was valued at 30 pieces of silver. But if we look at Zechariah 11:11-13 we see Jehovah prophetically saying, that it was He who was valued at 30 pieces of silver. And finally, Isaiah 45:23 and Romans 14:10-11 are clear that it is before Jehovah that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, and yet Philippians 2:10-11 says that it is at the name of Jesus that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.</p>\n<p>And not only that, but they are absolutely wrong about the early Christian theologians not believing in the Trinity. They say here in this brochure on the Trinity that the early Church Father Tertullian did not believe it. Well, here s just one quote from him, I don t know how much clearer he could have been in promoting the Trinity. In fact, this is the guy who invented the word.</p>\n<p>I could say so much more and wish that I had time. But if I can play even the smallest part in guiding someone else who was just as lost as I was to the truth, I would feel that my life has been worthwhile because truth is what it s all about. And so in all that I do, whether in my studies or in ministry and in my personal walk with God, I want nothing more than to please Him. And there s no way. . . no way that I m going to stand before that great white throne and have my Savior look at me with disappointment in His eyes. And so I want to be absolutely committed to loving and glorifying my God with an all-consuming fire that cannot be quenched from now until all eternity, and I long to hear Him say to me instead, Well done good and faithful servant. -- I don t deserve it. I don t deserve one bit of it...</p>\n<p>Amazing grace. How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.</p>\n<p>Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.</p>\n<p>Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.</p>\n<p>When we\'ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, We\'ve no less days to sing God\'s praise than when we first begun.</p>\n<p>Thank you</p>\n', created = 1490611376, expire = 1490697776, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '1:f3df5a018aa603288b34ecaea25657f9' in /home/exmormon/public_html/d6/drupal/includes/cache.inc on line 112.

This is an interesting story for Mormons to read - to see how JWs react to "anti-JW" material and how they treat those who leave the WatchTower. This is used with the permission of the author. He can be written to at: trinitas@aol.com

ONCE I WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE
Steve Berg

I was raised as a Jehovah s Witness by my mother whose mother also raised her in the same way. My father, on the other hand, never was a Witness and did not think much of organized religion. When my mom was pregnant with me, she once again became serious about her own and her future family's spiritual concerns. She wasn't sure what was really true anymore, but she got down on her knees and prayed to God to show her which was the true religion. She looked at other faiths, but soon became convinced once again that the Jehovah's Witnesses were right. So, she found the local Kingdom Hall, made all new friends, and became an active member of the congregation and intended to raise her children in "the truth" as well.

My dad, on the other hand, had a different idea in mind. Even though he didn't know a whole lot about true Christianity, he knew something was very wrong with the Jehovah's Witnesses. He became adamant about not letting my younger sister and I go with her to the meetings or out in service. For a period of about 5 years, I can vividly remember the two of them engaged in bitter arguments over this whole thing and my mom would always end up crying afterwards. My sister and I were much too young to understand what was going on. All we knew was daddy was being mean and not letting mommy take us to the meetings. My sister and I hated it when they would fight.

Nevertheless, despite my dad's opposition, my mom was determined to teach us the "truth." Many times when my dad was gone at work, she would spend time with us going through different Watchtower books. The little pink Great Teacher book was popular with us back then. And since my dad offered no alternative, we had no doubt as to what religion was true, and didn't even question it.

Eventually, my dad gave in and stopped fighting with my mom about religion. I think he just stopped caring one way or another because he realized that he didn't have much reason to refuse anyway. By now he felt that since there were so many different religions in the world, there's no way you could put one above another. So, we started going to more meetings with my mom. But since I knew how my dad felt about the whole thing, I never wanted him to think that I was doing this out of my own choice but that it was just to make my mom happy. He really didn't know how seriously I actually did take it. As far back as I can remember, I would always pray to Jehovah, especially before meals and going to bed. No one ever knew that I was praying. I did it very secretively because I was afraid everyone would think I was more weird than I really was. I also was very interested in the Awake! articles and books like My Book of Bible Stories and the Paradise Lost book. Nothing excited me more than all the pictures of paradise so prevalent in WT literature, and nothing scared me more than the picture of Armageddon in chapter 25 of the Paradise Lost book. This terrifying picture stuck in my young mind more so than any other and I can remember just staring at it for long periods of time thinking that unless I become a better person, I'm going to fall into the crack of an earthquake just like the people in this picture. And this picture would conveniently flash into my memory every time I forgot to pray or read Watchtower literature, or chose not to go to the meetings or go door-to-door with my mom or whenever I did something wrong.

The fear, guilt, and confusion I experienced as a kid were enormous. I was torn between the faith of my mind and the desires of my heart, which were continually at odds with one another. Since my dad nor anyone from his side of the family were Witnesses, we were still allowed to celebrate holidays and birthdays. But as much as I really loved doing that, I knew in my heart of hearts that they were wrong, and I felt guilty for having truly enjoyed opening my Christmas presents with the other members of my family, eating Thanksgiving dinner and watching Fourth of July fireworks. I struggled daily at school wondering how to reconcile the conflict of either avoiding embarrassing myself in front of my classmates or showing true honor to Jehovah by refusing to pledge allegiance to the flag. The meetings at the Kingdom Hall were so tedious and boring, and to make matters worse, my mom would frequently point to other, even younger kids in the congregation who were able to sit still and even raise their hands to answer questions and then ask me why I couldn't be like that, since all I could do was squirm and hope the meeting would be over soon. Still I knew this was where Jehovah wanted me to be even though I couldn't comprehend what was being said, but I hated myself for hating to go; add to that the terrifying prospect of having to go door-to-door, something I was always too timid to get up the courage to do. It was almost too much for a little kid to handle who was just trying to figure out the difference between right and wrong.

So, I learned how to compromise and rationalize my actions. I could justify all these things by not fully giving in to them. I celebrated the birthdays and holidays merely to pacify the unbelieving family, just like my mom would do. I would stand and hold my hand to my chest pretending to adjust my shirt and only move my lips making sure not to let any sounds come out when all the other kids were saying the pledge of allegiance. And I would often stay home from the meetings in order to accept the very noble responsibility of keeping my dad company. After all, it was always our hope of someday bringing him into the "truth", and we couldn't do that if he ever had any reason to despise it. Even though these excuses worked for the immediate situation, I knew that they were mere fabrications of my still corrupt heart.

Because of such gross disobedience prevalent in my life, I knew the only way I could ever make it into paradise would be by the skin of my teeth. All the praying and studying I did meant nothing compared to the evil that infested my mind, body, and soul. I can remember my mom repeatedly telling me how she wasn't sure she would ever make it through Armageddon. Here was a woman who diligently read the Watchtower articles, went to most of the meetings, and went out in service as much as she could manage. This, then revealed to me an absolutely horrific truth. If she wasn't even sure she would make it, I knew there was no chance I ever would. And since Armageddon was so close, I truly believed I was doomed. I would cry and cry and cry over my hopeless condition and often wondered why I should even try to be better. There was no way I could ever be good enough. So, if I was going to be destroyed anyway, why not live it up? But something inside me didn't want to resign to that. I thought maybe Jehovah just might give me credit for trying. Yet, I think I always knew deep down inside, that it was a futile prospect.

Instead of seeing my heavenly father as a loving, forgiving parent, I saw Him as an indignant judge, constantly watching me with a scale in front of him. On one side of the scale were all my good deeds, and on the other were all my bad ones. The imbalance of evil weighed so heavily against me that I thought I would have to almost become a totally different person in order to even start reversing it. Even as a young adolescent, I saw nothing good in me except the desire for the desire to be good and to do what's right.

Eventually, the logical workings of this belief system coupled with my shy personality, led to a long bout of depression and self-loathing. I had always been the shortest boy in my class and last chosen for any gym teams. I also never had any kind of talents or hobbies. About the only thing I could do pretty well was to sit and watch TV all hours of the day, and even though I couldn't play piano or do play football, I could tell you exactly when The Brady Bunch was on. Unfortunately, being a living, walking TV guide didn't lend itself to the admiration of others. All this contributed to my feelings of worthlessness and inferiority. Beginning in middle school and right after the death of my grandmother, my self-esteem took an even deeper plunge. I had hardly any friends and found myself surrounded by kids who had all these great talents and abilities. I saw myself as an utter outcast, unfit for society. Not only was I not normal, I actually thought of myself as sub-human on a subconscious level. For whatever reason, I didn't deserve to be popular, to go out with other schoolmates, to be involved in extra-curricular activities or to have any friends. I couldn't even imagine being rebellious and partying all the time. I wasn't even good enough to be bad. And so the phrase "self-respect" was an absurd contradiction in terms as far as I was concerned.

As my inferiority became more and more profound, I often found myself seriously contemplating suicide. And by now I was a total hypocrite. I claimed to love Jehovah and still tried to please him, (in fact when I was 14, I took a whole year to read straight through the New World Translation from cover to cover). But I also had become a foul-mouthed, rebellious brat with nothing but fear and contempt for the world around me. I saw myself as doing more harm to the people and the world around me than good. I was a waste of valuable space. In fact, I remember writing a poem called "My Best Friend." The ironic thing was, I had no friends, and so I ended it by saying "The only best friend I have is me, and I hate my best friend." Practically everything about me disgusted me and so reasons for continuing my existence became few and far between.

As my mind started developing toward more abstract forms of thought, I often found myself wondering if this was all really true in the first place or if it was just some sort of nightmarish illusion that would disappear as soon as I woke up. But that wasn't the case. In fact, upon waking up, I usually felt such overwhelming emotions of dread. I can remember lying in bed at night, all alone feeling terribly scared because I literally thought I was going to go insane. I almost couldn't tell what was real anymore. It just didn't seem to make sense to me that life should hurt so much and be as confusing as it was. I lived in my own little world and no one else even knew about it since I didn't think anyone else would care or even understand it. Such questions as, "Where is God through all this? Was I somehow overlooked? How could I be such a failure? Doesn't He even care about me?" evolved into questions like, "How do I even know if there really is a God? How do I even know that anything exists, including myself? Where do you even start to determine what is real and what isn't? What if this whole mess is nothing but an endless, torturous illusion designed to drive me crazy?" For some reason, I was just plagued with this curse of having to analyze absolutely everything to death before believing it. And so coupled with my depression, I not only started doubting God s existence, but also the world around me, and I couldn't t even be sure of my own. For awhile I was so confused that I lost all sense of assurance that I wasn't going to wake up the next morning in some mental ward because I just did not fit in anywhere and was not meant for this world. Suicide seemed to be the only rational conclusion and it scared me stiff.

However, in the midst of these satanic thoughts, way down in my heart, there was always something which prevented me from taking that last, tragic step. My world had become a tunnel, deep, dark, and damp. I was utterly alone, walking through it like a zombie having no purpose for continuing. Each step growing more and more weary. Yet, far, far ahead of me, I could see a faint glimmer of light. It compelled me and gave me at least some reason for going on, though I knew not what. And even though I couldn't tell if it was real or not, I at least had to find out. That light, though it seemed so far away, was hope.

Since I wasn't sure as to what was true anymore, I thought that the only way I could ever be content and maintain my sanity would be to discover what "TRUTH" really is. And if it were "true" that no such thing as "truth" really existed, then I would see no reason for my existence. But, if there really WAS such a thing as "truth", I was bound and determined to find it. I had to find something that gave my life meaning, but it couldn't be some arbitrary choice. I wanted the ABSOLUTE TRUTH OF THE UNIVERSE and to know it for sure and nothing less would suffice. So I set out on this looooong journey which lasted about three years.

While I wasn't sure of anything, I still believed in the back of my mind that if anything were true, it was the teachings of the Watchtower. I believed everything they taught, but it disturbed me that I didn't know why I believed what they taught. I realized that the main reason I believed this religion was because it was all I ever knew. I began this quest in search of "the true religion." And started studying privately every Wednesday after school with a JW lady-friend of my mom's who would come over and spend an hour with me as we'd go through some Watchtower literature. We started studying the Live Forever book, but it soon became obvious that my questions were much more basic than that. In my biology and other science classes at school, evolution was taught as a given; that that was just the way it is and there's no question about it. And I was really troubled by this, not because they were teaching it as fact, but because it actually made a lot of sense to me. It also bothered me that so many very intelligent people believed it, so why, then, shouldn't I? So we switched to the blue Evolution book. We spent months going through this book which I found fascinating and actually saw that it did do a pretty decent job of demonstrating the faultiness of evolution, at least enough to convince me. There was no way this universe was merely an accident. And it made much more logical sense to believe in God than not to.

After discovering why my belief in a Creator was perfectly rational, I wanted to find out which of the major world religions accurately worshipped the true God. This manifested itself in the question of why should I believe the Bible to be the actual Word of God? I realized that just as I had taken belief in God's existence for granted, I had done the same thing with the Bible. So an opportunity presented itself during my sophomore year in high school. I decided to do my major research paper for the year on the reliability of the Scriptures based on the findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls. What I discovered left me dumbfounded. All the books (not necessarily from a Christian perspective) that I checked out from the library provided absolutely phenomenal evidence in support of the Bible's accuracy. The extremely minimal amount of differences over the thousands of years of being copied and recopied totally convinced me that it must have been by supernatural intervention that preserved this very unique book. Thus, I knew and had definite reasons to believe that Christianity was true.

The next obvious question to surface was, which version of Christianity was true since there were so many of them including the Witnesses. This question didn't seem as tough as the others. Once I'd discovered the truthfulness of the Bible, the Watchtower's interpretation of it was practically a given. It seemed so obviously true that proof and acceptance of Watchtower theology was merely a formality. Yet I still couldn't sufficiently answer the question, "Why do I believe that the Jehovah's Witnesses have the truth?" So, at first I went to the library and checked out some books on comparative religions and learned some of the basics behind them. Then I engrossed myself in Watchtower theology. I virtually memorized the Reasoning and Live Forever books until I thought I knew them cold. I started attending the meetings and book studies all on my own and despite my shyness even found myself contributing to the conversations. I finally reached the point where I was practically convinced that this was the True religion and so my investigation was nearly finished. I was about ready to commit myself wholeheartedly to becoming the best Jehovah's Witness I could since I knew in my heart of hearts that it was true. There was just one last step to climb, the one that actually put me over the edge.

I felt this last step would be the crowning victory of my long search and confirmation of the truth. Now that I had convinced myself that the Watchtower was right, I needed the chance to demonstrate this to at least one other person who was not one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I reasoned in my mind that if this religion was really the Absolute Truth of the whole entire universe, then any open-minded, spiritually-concerned person could be shown this and would have to either accept it based on the evidence, or reject it in spite of the evidence. I felt so sure about my position that I was willing to take on anyone who disagreed with me and thought for sure I could prove them wrong.

Still being a relatively shy and depressed kid, I didn't know how to start dialoguing with someone who fit the criteria I was looking for. For the most part, I was still very ashamed of my religious convictions in front of the other kids. So I basically had no idea how this last leg of my journey would ever be completed. My personality had denigrated so much that I acted as if I didn't care what anyone thought of me. Nearly every other word out of my mouth was fodder for sewer rats. I still hated everything and everyone, especially myself. So chances of my finding someone who would be interested in talking about religion with me seemed extremely remote.

So I prayed; and I prayed; and I prayed. The dichotomy between my beliefs and my actions grew bigger and bigger. It almost felt as though at any moment I would split into two totally opposite people. But I knew that the only way this gap could be bridged would be by resolving this last remaining issue. I had to talk to someone other than a Jehovah's Witness and find out why they didn't believe the "truth." I desperately asked Jehovah to put someone in my life, somehow, with whom I could honestly discuss these issues.

It probably didn't take more than a month before this prayer was miraculously answered. I say "miraculously" because the sequence of events were far too fantastic to be mere coincidence. Today, whenever shades of doubt cloud my mind in terms of God's intervention in my life, I always look back to this period and think, "There's no way He doesn't care about me."

In my most dreaded class, the one in which both my physical and social ineptitude shone forth the brightest, (gym class), I happened to come into contact with another junior who didn't seem to care about my foul mouth, my unpopularity, or my "loser" appearance. He actually seemed to want to do things with me and talk to me (Gosh, what a concept!). We somehow always ended up on the same teams together like in volleyball and tennis. This is where we really got to know each other better.

His name was Brad and as time wore on, situations kept arising that put us in closer contact with one another and we became pretty good friends. One time, he was driving me home and just out of the blue, I can't even remember the context of the conversation, he said something to me about his "faith in the Lord". Well, needless to say, this just blew me away! In my mind I jumped for joy thanking Jehovah for finally giving me the chance to prove to someone else why their religion was wrong and why mine was right! He didn't even have to talk very long before I was explaining to the poor guy God's original purpose for the earth even though it was late at night and we were almost home. Naturally, I went to bed that night utterly ecstatic thanking Jehovah for answering my prayers!

As it turned out, Brad and I would spend many more long nights together eating pizza and trying to convert one another. I found out that he went to one of the local churches and had even grown up in it. So I thought I would surely be able to show him the error of his ways. He just never knew any other way and would surely become convinced of the truth of the Watchtower since it made so much sense. It would just be a matter of time.

Well, my questions and problems with his religion eventually became too much for Brad to handle. So he asked me if I would like to meet his youth pastor. I thought about it for awhile, and, knowing that I might get in trouble for doing it, I said I would. And I became even more arrogant thinking, "Wow! The chance to talk to a pastor! Maybe I can even bring him into the truth! I'm sure he's just as deceived as Brad is. Boy, won't that shake up this church; this den of heresy? Maybe I could even turn this place into a Kingdom Hall! I mean, after all, with a sure-fire bazooka like this in your back pocket, those poor slobs in Christendom haven t got a chance!" So I finally met this guy, Bob, that wolf from the Great Whore of Babylon. I even went to his church (without my mother's knowledge of this) to meet him. I can remember feeling so angry because of the people I saw there who were being led astray by such lies and stupid doctrines. I was so confident that any intelligent, thinking individual couldn't really believe in that ludicrous, pagan doctrine of the Trinity. For some reason, I hated this doctrine the most and I can remember the knot in my throat and the scowl on my face as I confronted this poor pastor whom I'd just met with the words, "How can you believe in the Trinity? Nowhere in the Bible does it say Jesus is God!". . .Well, Bob was strangely calm and unthretened by my words. He paused for a second and coolly asked me, "Are you a Jehovah's Witness?"

Stunned by his response, I asked, "Yeah. How did you know?" And he said, "Well, Jehovah's Witnesses are usually known for having a problem with the Trinity." Having a "problem" with the Trinity?! What did he mean by that? How could you not have a "problem" with the Trinity? He was talking as if it were actually a logical belief. So he proceeded to give me a couple books to borrow dealing with cults. And I can remember thinking, "'Cult?!' What do they mean, 'cult'? This isn't a 'cult'." I had never before seen Christendom's perception of my religion and was shocked to see that they weren't even threatened by it. Plus, the fact that within these two books which were very basic, the Jehovah's Witnesses were just one of many others being dealt with. All of a sudden my religion wasn't unique.

This was just the first of many blows to follow. The next few months proved to be a living hell that nearly tore me apart. I started reading things in these two little books that I'd never heard of before. I knew nothing about the history of the organization and some of their far out teachings. Charles Russell and his "miracle wheat" really upset and threw me as well as all the faulty dates that were set for Armageddon. At the time I never before heard of Russell and his Pyramidology and Rutherford's mansion in California where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were supposed to be resurrected back in 1925. I had no idea that it was impossible to find out who the translators of the New World Translation were and that absolutely no scholars except for the Witnesses accepted 607 B.C. as the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, which is what their 1914 date is so dependent upon.

Even though these things were very disturbing, I was mainly interested in the theological differences. I couldn't believe how much sense some of the orthodox doctrines of Christianity which I had always flatly rejected actually made. I started to get panicked and obsessed with trying to defend my faith. I just had to prove the Watchtower right and fought tooth and nail to find anything I could in their defense. I found myself bringing stacks of books to school to read in between classes and in my spare time. I mean, I had the New World Translation, a King James Bible, the Reasoning and Live Forever books, and then these two cult books. I remember just going back and forth and back and forth in my mind. Whenever I thought I found a good argument by the JW's, I would sigh in relief and couldn't wait to shove it in Pastor Bob s face. And then I would read other things which seemed to refute Watchtower theology so well and I'd get depressed and would get into some pretty heated discussions with my mom. Pretty soon, I was having more and more difficulty seeing the rationality behind Watchtower theology. And for the first time in my life, the whole foundation of my existence was shattering right underneath me, and I wasn't sure what to hang onto anymore.

The more I read, the more desperate I became. I had many of what my mom referred to as "secret meetings" with Pastor Bob at Little Caesar's Pizza. I also had many discussions with other people from the church as well as people from the Kingdom Hall, especially my mom. In my own desperation of trying to defend the Watchtower and prove their theology, I somehow neglected her emotions and didn't realize until much later how devastating this whole experience was for her. She had always had high hopes for me for advancing within the organization; going to Bethel and one day becoming an elder. She also used to tell me how she thought I would probably be the only one to lead my dad into the Truth. Needless to say, this was just as much a traumatic time for her as it was for me. But I couldn't see her hurt. I was much too obsessed in my own world at this time that nothing else seemed to matter.

I started to become very frustrated with some of the answers I was getting from the Watchtower. Some of the reasoning seemed pretty feeble, and while the Witnesses would make me feel foolish for thinking that the "Trinitarians" had any points at all, I just couldn't accept the response, "Oh Steve. That's stupid" as any kind of conclusive answer. However, I began to realize that such mockery was really the only foundation the Watchtower really had. And when I started realizing that their theology really didn't hold any water I also noticed a shift in my intentions.

As the Watchtower theology sprouted more and more leaks I found myself finding more and more holes. And whatever it couldn't hold, the orthodox Christianity view could hold. Their answers, while difficult to accept at first, were actually intelligent and logical. The sheer biblical evidence for the deity of Jesus was overwhelming enough, but even things like immortality of the soul, the bodily resurrection, hell, and the personality of the Holy Spirit started to become more obvious.

Yet, while I was intellectually assenting toward the Christian world view, my heart was still reluctant. I had become so proud of my JW faith on a totally rational level and since I had grown up with it, it wasn't something I could just throw out with the garbage. I mean, my whole purpose was to convert my friend, Brad, not the other way around. It would be like admitting defeat, not only to my new friends, but especially to myself if I were to give in. But probably worst of all, I knew that if I decided not to become a baptized Witness, my mom would take it as the ultimate slap in the face. Since she had honestly tried to raise her kids the best she could in the Truth, it was only natural that she would take such an act personally. I couldn't bear the thought of her thinking that she had been a failure in raising me. So I held on as long as I could.

It didn't take long for me to realize, however, that I would be committing intellectual suicide by merely choosing to believe in something I couldn't honestly accept. This tension increased to the point where I was utterly weak and could only cry out to God that all I wanted was the Truth, no matter what that was.

So here was this Christianity thing which made sense to me intellectually. But not only did it offer answers for my mind, but also for the deep longings of my heart. I had never before thought in terms of having a "personal relationship" with God. It made so much sense but I was always taught to think in terms of living forever in paradise. But slowly God began to show me how much deeper He wanted to go with me. Not only did He want to offer me longevity of life, He wanted me to know Him. In fact, John 17:3 even says that eternal life is... knowing... God. He wanted to reconcile that lost relationship with me which was destroyed by my sin. And the reality and gravity of the horror of sin became obvious to me. I knew that I was eternally separated from God and that there was nothing, absolutely nothing I could do to win His approval. He expected perfection from me, and I knew that was impossible. This is when I also realized the awesome significance of Christ's atonement for me. I saw how Jesus was much more than a mere example for me to live by and that His death did much more than give me a chance to gain eternal life. I realized that He actually took upon Himself the consequence of my sin and that when He died, He said, "It is finished." There was no need for me to feel guilty anymore. He had paid the price in full. Such verses as John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" and Colossians 2:8, 9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" took on brand new meanings for me. I finally understood salvation in terms of forgiveness, rather than reward, something God did for me rather than something I have to do for Him. All He was asking from me was acceptance of His free gift because nothing that I could do would ever measure up. I knew that because of my sin, I deserved nothing less than eternal separation from Him, which the Bible calls "hell," no matter how "good" of a person I was. But He loved me so much that He paid that price for me. And His love had no strings attached. Even though I was a wretched creature, He loved me just because He loved me. Totally and unconditionally.

It seemed almost too good to be true. To think that I didn't have to go door to door; I didn't have to go to five meetings a week; I didn't have to read every single Watchtower article and best of all, I didn't have to unquestionably follow a man-made organization that had so much of its past to hide anyway. It sounded so freeing, so wonderful, so logical, and yet so humiliating. I was faced with a dilemma. The fundamental dilemma which keeps anyone from repentance: and that is, pride. I just couldn't admit I was wrong, but on the other hand, I was no longer left with any reasonable excuses. The Watchtower foundation had turned into quicksand, and I was sinking fast. So, finally at my wits end, after all the arguments were over and it was just me alone with God, sometime in the summer of 1986, I broke through that stubborn pride and jumped out of the sinking sand and onto the Solid Rock by giving my life over to Jesus Christ, who was now my Friend, my Savior, my Lord, . . .and my God.

Jesus was someone totally different to me now. I had finally found true love as He Himself became the source of truth and love in my life. Never before did the Bible make so much sense to me as it did now. As opposed to my whole self-esteem being wrapped up in my own good works, it was now wrapped up in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He accepted me just as I was. I didn't have to prove my worthiness to Him (in fact, such a thing was impossible). His righteousness was poured out upon me as He took upon Himself my punishment on the cross.

But along with this conclusion came the harsh realization that for the first 17 years of my life, I had been lied to by a man-made organization. The Jehovah's Witnesses never talked about the freedom we have in Christ, only about strict obedience to the Watchtower. They never talked about the gravity of my sin and my need for a savior, only about the fact that I was "imperfect" and that it was all Adam's fault. They never talked about the wonder of God's grace, only about the fact that time was so short and I better do what I can so that maybe I might be hid in the day of Jehovah. And they never talked about the ultimate fulfillment that is found in intimately knowing God. Their main focus always seemed to be hoping to live forever on a paradise earth with God merely being an afterthought. As opposed to fixing their eyes on Jesus as Hebrews 12:2 tells us to do, they told us to "Keep our eyes on the prize". It all seemed so utterly motivated by selfishness. I was more focused on the gift rather than the Giver. The only reason I used to care about what God thought of me was because I wanted to live in paradise, not because I loved Him. The love of Jehovah's Witnesses for their God is conditional. They love Him not because He first loved them, but because He promises them something that appeals to their carnal nature. I finally realized that the message of the Bible is not about doing what it takes to live forever in paradise, but about God taking away the tragedy of our sin so that we can live forever with him. It became so clear to me that the Watchtower had it all wrong.

I didn't have to worry about Armageddon anymore. Since John 17:3 says that eternal life is knowing God; and I knew that I knew Him and that therefore, eternal life was already mine.

And I never really knew about the clutches of the Watchtower's claws on the lives of their followers until good friends from the Hall yelled at me over the phone and threw me out of their homes, and especially when my own mother told me that she fully believed that if ever my pastor were to tell me to go kill all Jehovah's Witnesses, that I would come after her and wouldn't even think twice about killing her. And my heart was thoroughly crushed and my eyes rudely awakened when she told me through held back tears that it was like I wasn't even her son anymore. I had become a stranger in her eyes. I'll never forget these painful words.

Yet deep in my heart of hearts, I knew the decision I'd made was right. Not even the love of my mother was worth rejecting the love of my Heavenly Father. She was utterly devastated, and I was totally speechless. What could I say when I knew what I had put her through? Her emotions were dragged over the rocks during my intense struggle, and I was so overwhelmed in my own spirit, that I couldn't even see the turmoil of her heart. What could I say other than "I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the cruelty of reality. I treated you wrong; but I don't regret the choice I made."

As long as she remained one of Jehovah's Witnesses, we would be forever divided. The fundamental difference between us was all too clear to me. I couldn't deny it anymore. How ironic that the ultimate confession of the Absolute Truth of the universe is the worst blasphemous heresy in the ear of the Jehovah's Witness. The phrase, "Jesus is Jehovah" sends chills of horror down the spine of the Witness, but thrills of wonder in the soul of the Christian.

[I must confess, that now the Trinity and the Deity of Christ are now my most favorite doctrines and anytime I get a chance to talk about it, I just jump on it. And, so I just wanted to say that ironically, I even found the most convincing evidence of Christ's deity in the pages of the New World Translation, of all places.]

But if I could say anything to Jehovah s Witnesses today, it would be to not only not be afraid of the truth, but also, to not be afraid of the lies. If Satan has set before you poison from the table of demons as a recent Watchtower article referred to apostate material, then God will not allow you to die from it. But if you re not allowed to compare the good food with the poison, how are you going to know the difference? You could be eating the poison without even knowing it, even though it looks so good. And think about this, if someone were serving you poison, wouldn t they be the ones trying to keep you from checking out the good stuff? I m not afraid anymore to look at anything that challenges my beliefs. In fact, I want to look at it because I know the truth will stand and that if I m truly seeking after the truth, God will not let me be led astray. So, I want to encourage all Jehovah s Witnesses, if you really do believe that you have the truth, be bold and take a firm stand against all those other religions in the world that are attacking you and prove them wrong. Go ahead and look at the attacks made by these so-called apostates and opposers and defend your faith by exposing their lies. Grab that bull by the horns and logically refute its false claims; don t run away and ignore it.

I remember when I was first beginning my search and after God had given me those books, a couple friends I had at school who were Witnesses were upset that I was reading them. One of them wrote me a note saying that I should be careful because she knew that even some of the anointed fallen away by reading something as simple as a newspaper article. At first, I thought she was right. But then I realized, Hey, wait a minute. If this stuff is not true and is nothing but a bunch of slanderous lies against the Watchtower, then I want to expose it for what it is. The truth will stand, and God will reveal it to me. But I don t know for sure that these books are lying. It is not a given that any religion is true, not even the Watchtower. But if it is, it will be able to withstand any amount of fair scrutiny.

The war is over and I have dedicated my life to serving Christ by leading people out of false religions. It is my passion to share this good news with those who are lost in the cults, because the only Jesus that can save them, is the One who, though being God, came to this earth in human form, died on the cross, and rose bodily from the grave so that they, too might have eternal life which is knowing Him. And so you remember how much I once hated the Trinity? Well, now, out of God s sense of humor, He as provided for me a way to study at Trinity Divinity School where, though it s a financial and mental challenge, I m getting my master s degree in philosophy and church history focusing specifically on the doctrine of the Trinity in all my papers and thesis, all because I love it so much now. And I m finding out that, contrary to what the Watchtower says, the Trinity is not confusing. It can be explained and defended both philosophically and biblically. For instance, in regards to the deity of Christ, not only does John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16, 17 say that everything was created by Him and through Him, Isaiah 44:24 says specifically that Jehovah alone is responsible for creating the universe and that He was all by Himself when he stretched forth the heavens. Plus, Hebrews 1:10 also says that Jesus was the one who laid the foundations of the earth yet, this passage is actually a direct quote from Psalm 102 in which it is clear that it is Jehovah God who laid the foundations of the earth. Also, if we look at Matthew 26:14-16, we see that it was Jesus who was valued at 30 pieces of silver. But if we look at Zechariah 11:11-13 we see Jehovah prophetically saying, that it was He who was valued at 30 pieces of silver. And finally, Isaiah 45:23 and Romans 14:10-11 are clear that it is before Jehovah that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, and yet Philippians 2:10-11 says that it is at the name of Jesus that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.

And not only that, but they are absolutely wrong about the early Christian theologians not believing in the Trinity. They say here in this brochure on the Trinity that the early Church Father Tertullian did not believe it. Well, here s just one quote from him, I don t know how much clearer he could have been in promoting the Trinity. In fact, this is the guy who invented the word.

I could say so much more and wish that I had time. But if I can play even the smallest part in guiding someone else who was just as lost as I was to the truth, I would feel that my life has been worthwhile because truth is what it s all about. And so in all that I do, whether in my studies or in ministry and in my personal walk with God, I want nothing more than to please Him. And there s no way. . . no way that I m going to stand before that great white throne and have my Savior look at me with disappointment in His eyes. And so I want to be absolutely committed to loving and glorifying my God with an all-consuming fire that cannot be quenched from now until all eternity, and I long to hear Him say to me instead, Well done good and faithful servant. -- I don t deserve it. I don t deserve one bit of it...

Amazing grace. How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, We've no less days to sing God's praise than when we first begun.

Thank you