Would you go to a JW Bible study?

(90 Posts)
quizzywizz Tue 09-Apr-13 21:13:39

I have wanted to do a Bible study for a while but there aren't many around here and the times at the church ones just don't fit in with everything else that I do.

I work with a Jehovah's Witness and she said that they do Bible studies in people's homes or in the home of the JW and they work right through the Bible and the key features. She said that a lot of non-JWs go the the studies and that even some non-believers do too. They are usually 1 on 1 or 2 JWs and 1 student.

Would you go to a JW Bible study? Do you think there would be anything to worry about?

I think if your faith is new or you are not certain of it, you would find it a lot better to explore your faith amongst people who would allow you to work out your feelings and thoughts in a more open environment.

Although I met those lovely JW ladies on my doorstep I have no desire to go to their Kingdom Hall. Getting into lots of theological debates with people who are very fixed in their views is quite hard and challenging for anyone! Even very strong Christians of years can find it hard to talk about thorny issues. Sometimes it is right to discuss these thorny issues but it needs to be in a fair and open environment. If you go to their services or to their Bible studies you will get their take on things (of course) and also you may find it harder to put your own views across. If you know you don't want to join their religion I would be very cautious for all the reasons people have given on here.

PigletJohn Sat 27-Apr-13 01:13:57

There's no point in debating with JWs, they aren't going to shift an inch.

I wouldn't because I think they're fundamentalist nutters with a made-up offshoot religion, however I am very intolerant.

HoneyandRum Mon 29-Apr-13 13:34:36

OK Quizzywhizz where are you in the country? We could maybe point you to some other local resources as options.

As well as JWs beliefs being quite significantly different from what the majority of Christians agree on, how you meet and connect with them is quite different. With most Christians your total freedom will be emphasized, and something I would encourage you to remember. God gives us free will and complete freedom so only do what you feel comfortable doing, nothing that feels fake or coerced.

HoneyandRum Mon 29-Apr-13 13:44:53

All the emphasis on demons and darkness is not my cup of tea. I'm a Catholic and our theology is that everything is created good, that all of us are equal before God and that we are all brothers and sisters sharing our world together. Catholics will help those in need, not just other Catholics because we see ourselves as the same as them - anyone in need of help should receive it.

stressedHEmum Tue 30-Apr-13 10:00:00

Yes, I would say they are a cult.

They may not have a single, charismatic leader but the have a very small group of elder men who preside over the whole thing and dictate everything. They are the "faithful and discreet slave class" and, basically, have a hotline to Jehovah, so whatever they say has come directly from God.

They have a special language designed to unite believers and keep out outsiders, also to give themselves more legitimacy - calling themselves The Truth, for instance - everyone else's belief is a lie

They separate you from family and friends who do not believe

They cut you off completely if you leave

They use apocalyptic teaching to keep a hold of you

They have a whole history of end of the world prophecies which haven't come true, so they have had to cover their backs countless times

They change their teaching all the time under the guise of New Light - i.e. God makes stuff known at the right time and the new revelations take the place of the old, wrong ones, which were apparently, misunderstood by the leaders at the time because they weren't ready for full revelation.

They dictate the minutiae of their member's lives, everything from how to cut your hair to what books to read or music to listen to. Even very small things like not clinking glasses in a toast or saying "bless you" when someone sneezes

Most Jehovah's Witnesses are lovely, kind, sincere people, who truly believe, many others, though, are scared to leave because they will lose their entire social and spiritual network, they may also lose their entire family. It's also pretty much a life of guilt and uncertainty, because you never know if you are "saved" and will survive Armageddon until it comes and you are standing before the judgement seat, justifying yourself and all the decisions you have made. Have you sent an inappropriate card with a Bible verse on it to someone, have you read the wrong books, did you masturbate, did you go on dates without a chaperone, did you fail to spend enough hours in the preaching work, did you let your kids play with non JW children, did you attend enough services, did you put the Truth 1st in everything you did....?

It's a religion with very little room for Grace and a lot of space for Judgement.

thermalsinapril Wed 01-May-13 19:17:34

I wouldn't go to one. I'd prefer to ask at the mainstream churches what they'd recommend.

Hullygully Wed 01-May-13 19:20:06

nononononononononononononononononononononononononono

quizzywizz Sat 04-May-13 10:11:12

Soooo last week the study was about the devil and prophesy - interesting in an odd sort of way. They are so very very committed to their beliefs! Very intense!

Next week is about Jesus which is where I think the differences will start to show up. Pretty sure that they have different views of Jesus to other Christians. Could be a little awkward really as they have all these verses memorised and I just have faith.

I am in Yorkshire in a little town - there are a few churches here but they tend to have really old congregations so all the social type stuff is during the day (when I am at work) and they don't seem to do any studies.

I am still looking into the options around here - there is some sort of New Life Christian church here (v small and the website mentions talking in tongues - not sure about that) and there is a Catholic church and a C of E Church too.

You are quite right and the differences between JW and mainstream Chrisitianity will show up when they talk about Jesus. JWs as far as I am aware do not subscribe to the historic creeds which all the mainstream churches do. We may argue over interpretation but on the divinity of Christ and the trinity these are the touchstones of Christianity. Have you spoken to the priest at the C of E church and asked whether they are doing any introduction to faith courses?

This is the Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is,
seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
Amen.

stressedHEmum Sat 04-May-13 11:50:42

Are you actually having a study, quizzy?

A lot of differences will show up in their beliefs about Jesus. Greenheart is right, JWs do not subscribe to either the Nicene or Apostles Creed. They do not believe in the Trinity or the divinity of Jesus. They have a non traditional view of the Holy Spirit. They believe that Jesus died to vindicate Jehovah's name and to pay back the perfect life and obedience that Adam stole, not that Jesus died for our sins or to gain our forgiveness. There is little concept of the grace of God in JW religion.

Re the prophecy - please be aware that they have changed their teachings on prophecy umpteen times over the years until it has become almost meaningless. The teaching on "this generation", for instance, has been changed many times because it has become unviable and obsolete because people keep dying and invalidating what JWs teach. Also they have prophesied the end of the world on a whole host of dates, none of which have, obviously, come tru. The last time was around the millennium. JWs expected the new millennium to usher in Armageddon.

Please be careful. See my post above about some of the realities of JWs. I could tell you some horror stories.

quizzywizz Sat 04-May-13 12:04:26

I have spoken to the 2 Methodist churches and there is nothing running there. One is a really old congregation and they don't have a regular preacher and the other church tried an Alpha course a while back but not enough people were interested!

It is kind of an unofficial study really. It is interesting but at the same time I am keeping myself a step back. Objectively I can see how people get drawn in really easily.

I think the next chapter might end the study if we don't agree - most up to this point has been pretty normal. Jesus though is one thing that I certainly won't give up! Just wish I knew as many Bible verses to back my views up as they have to support their own!

MareeyaDolores Sat 04-May-13 16:27:37

Their translation is subtly very different on lots of the key verses anyway. Without trying to hard-sell Catholicism, can I suggest that you either pay one visit to the local priest, or look at the RCIA course.

I doubt they'll convince you to come to Rome wink but it might give you some back-up when texts are used to try to convince you that JW are Christians. They really aren't. Most are lovely, deeply religious, prayerful people... but there's no true Christianity without Christ.

MareeyaDolores Sat 04-May-13 16:30:32

One of the Methodist grannies will surely be working her way through a home Bible programme. You might even get invited to tea and cake wink.

I know this is going to sound like a strange suggestion, but how about reading the bible yourself.

People think you should have one group or another tell you what it says. They consider one group more qualified or more entitled to do so, but what about just trusting yourself? There's the bible right there. You don't need to have a priest unlock it for you. Pick it up and start reading from the beginning and keep going until you get to the end.

Once you know what's in it then you can go back to certain parts and reread them and then maybe you'd like to discuss bits with others. That way round is fine, but letting someone tell you what lines to read and in what order is not unless you want someone else to decide what you think.

I'd encourage everyone, believer or atheist to get a bible and read it.

mikkii Sat 04-May-13 16:57:57

I would certainly consider the RCIA course. I was brought up C of E, my DH is catholic and I have been going o he RC church for years. This year I chose to convert. I had things to read t home and the met with the parish nun every couple of weeks. TBH we seemed to chat less about religion than life, family and friends.

I live in west london, but our RC church congregation are often invited to speakers/events held by the local C of E church.

I was at a training course today and was reminded of this group which have an online presence but if you call them or email them they will be delighted to answer questions or put you in touch with someone who can.

http://www.christianity.org.uk/index.php

Tuo Sat 04-May-13 19:37:00

Hello, quizzywizz... I don't have any direct experience of JWs (except the usual 'doorstep' experience) but would also urge caution. I think that there are other ways of getting the kind of support that you need.

For example, have you thought about getting a Spiritual Director? I have been thinking about this for a while, although I haven't quite been brave enough to do it yet. But this would be someone whom you could meet at a mutually convenient time, who'd listen to you and help you make sense of things at your own pace. You should be able to get contact details from your diocesan website. Here's one example, with some info about what spiritual direction involves, but if you're in a different Yorkshire diocese, then just look on your relevant website and there should be something similar.

I would also recommend CLAY (Christians Learning Across Yorkshire), and The Mirfield Centre. Mirfield runs full- and half-day courses at weekends, so even if you're not that local it might be feasible to get there for one day once in a while.

Good luck!

quizzywizz Mon 06-May-13 15:44:09

Thank you for the links - I will look into them! smile Around here the churches tend to be Sunday only or Sunday services with a couple of other meetings during work hours.

On a positive note the study is making me think more about what I believe and making me dig into the Bible to back up what I believe.

John 1 : 1 is different in the JW version - has a changed meaning so I can see how challenging them on who Jesus is based on the Bible would be tricky as they trust their version.

Last thing I want to do is cause issues with someone that I work with so hopefully there will be a tactful way around it!

thermalsinapril Mon 06-May-13 18:16:45

The "New Life" church sounds like a "charismatic" church if they're speaking in tongues regularly. Personally, I would avoid this type of church as I associate it with American-style right-wing fundamentalism. The C of E church could be what you're looking for but they do vary widely - only thing is to give it a try and see if it's up your street. The Methodist one sounds promising too, as at least they tried to start an Alpha course!

Tuo I think the idea of a spiritual director is brilliant. Well done. I have had a spiritual director for about three years and she is lovely and very wise, and yet manages to help me without actually telling me what to do! In fact the term 'director' can be a bit misleading because the person is a friend who listens and supports and yet often does not directly 'direct'!

For anyone interested in a spiritual director who is in the south east of England (including London) you could visit this website www.spidir.org.uk/finding-a-spiritual-director

quizzywizz please do let the local churches know you are interested in a seeker style Alpha style service. One of them may be able to provide that.

If you want to read the Bible there are lots of study guides to help you. There is a Christian book shop called Wesley Owen www.wesleyowen.com/

BackOnlyBriefly there is nothing wrong with reading the Bible aone but it can be quite hard going. It is a pretty old book and sometimes hard to understand. Lots of people do read it but it just as it is but if you have a version that contains a comentary it can explain some of the references etc and that can be helpful.

Sorry seeker style Alpha style service course!

BackOnlyBriefly sorry "...reading the Bible alone .... people do read but it just as it is but if you have a version that contains a comentary it can explain some of the references etc and that can be helpful.

Tuo Tue 07-May-13 00:41:28

Thank you, IG.

Just popping back briefly to clarify that CLAY and the Mirfield Centre are both ecumenical, so it doesn't matter what church you belong to if you want to contact them.

Yes, good point. Spidir are informal and are an 'ecumenical Christian network'.

I do like it when Christian groups work together. It gives me hope for the future.

It has been a good eye opener on Mumsnet to see at times that Christian from all different denominations can give sound advice and compassion. I really don;t mean that in a patronising way, I really think by pooling our resources and our care we can be a better force for good. grin

quizzywizz Tue 14-May-13 19:36:49

Last night was alllllllllll about Jesus - or their version of Jesus.

The one who lived in heaven with God for billions of years before He (Jesus) created the heavens and earth and everything in it. The Jesus is less than God and that Jesus states this more than once.

They are very good at using Bible verses to back up all their points and in the way that they back each other up - seemed quite practised even the little comments.

It was strange as I expected to feel like I needed to get out of there as soon as possible but really I felt like there was a barrier between them and me and that their words weren't really getting to me.

I can really see how people end up getting deeper and deeper though as it is all presented as fact and the truth.

MareeyaDolores Tue 14-May-13 20:01:19

quizzy, I think you do need to get out. I'm really glad there was a barrier. That said, to me, a Bible study specifically designed and set up to reject Jesus cannot be a safe or good place for a believing Christian.

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