Would you go to a JW Bible study?(90 Posts)
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'd be wary. They will use their own translation of the bible and their own literature and will only present their view in the study.
It's actually a carefully designed way to recruit you into the religion.
No. They have rather odd views on the Bible, quite at odds with the interpretations of the mainstream Christian churches.
Why do you want to study the Bible? Do you want someone to put a lot of effort into convincing you that their religion is right, and that they are really "there for you"? Because that is what you will get. In fairness, you'll get a fair amount of that from many kinds of bible study groups, but the JWs put a lot more effort into it than most.
And their opinion of it is certainly not what most churches would consider mainstream, so it's not going to teach you what most Christians think the Bible means.
They are not really considered Christians though, are they, so not sure why you would study their version of the Bible?
Why not try find an Alpha course?
I don't think this would be a good idea. I agree with find an Alpha course. They are run by quite a few churches.
There was an Alpha course around here but only 3 people signed up so it was cancelled.
She did say I could take my own Bible (NLT) with me to compare - maybe it is just like another translation like NLT compared to KJV.
I want to study the Bible because I want to understand it more plus there is a lot that I haven't read plus it is pretty central to the Christian faith.
JWs are Christians though aren't they? I just assumed that they were!
Oh no, they're really quite different. They make it sound like they are quite ordinary and mainstream, but they're not. Even if their Bible is the same (I'm not sure either way) their interpretation of it is quite different. They don't believe in the Trinity, for one fairly glaring thing.
Try this for an overview -en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jehovas_witnesses
Why should the JW interpretation of the bible be any less valid than the so called 'mainstream' interpretation. Perhaps they are right. Why not see what they have to say?
What I recommend is you use a bible translation during your study (if you choose to have one) that you are happy with, then you will feel confident that you are not just using one point of reason, they are decent people and even if you choose not to be part of them you will certainly learn much about the bible and where many of the teachings mainstream Christianity accepts come from.
The Jehovah's Witnesses call themselves Christian. All the ones I've met have been good and decent people. They are not mainstream Christians as they could not sign up to the Nicene Creed.
If you want to study the Bible and Christian beliefs from a mainstream Christian perspective then an Alpha or Emmaus course is a good idea. There will be a group of people and not 2 or 3 instructors and 1 pupil which is how all JW Bible studies that I've heard of have operated.
The thing to remember when about the Bible is that how it is read is one of the things that really divides Christians with some (mostly in America) taking a view that it is literally the word of God through to the mainstream view that you find in the academic texts that it is a library of books rather than one that reflects the culture and thought world of its day and needs respectful interpretation.
Some books to get you started:
Simon Jenkins 'The Bible from Scratch'
Mary Batchelor 'Opening up the Bible'
Anything by NT Wright or Tom Wright
Etienne Charpentier 'How to Read the New Testament' and 'How to Read the Old Testament'
For something a bit more weighty you could see if your library has John Drane's Introduction to the New Testament.
Or look at www.rejesus.co.uk
Hope that helps.
quizzywizz persoanlly I would not want to do a Bible study with the Jehovah's Witnesses as they are not mainstream Christians. I am sure they are very nice and I met some on my dorrstep and had agood chat and ended up giving them a hug/them giving me a hug! But the majority of the church does not sigh up to their ideas.
I would certainly recommend the Alpha and I feel very sorry the course was cancelled because of low turn out. I think that even a few people would be enough to make it more than worth while to run it. Look on the Alpha website or maybe email them your experiences and ask them to hook you up for a course that will definitely run.
Good luck exploring the Bible and your thoughts on faith. It really is worth it. Feel free to PM me, we are running a course but I expect we are not in the same area as you!!
God no, you will never get rid of them ( my mum was brought up a JW, many of my family remain JW).
No, I wouldn't, and, like rhonda, I used to be one.
You will be "allowed" to use your NLT to begin with but you will be steered towards the NWT very quickly. You will only get their view and be led to believe that every other version of faith is actually part of the Great Whore of Babylon (false worship) and is really worshipping Satan.
You'll be encouraged, after a while, to distance yourself from non-JW family and friends and to spend more and more time in the JW community - bad associations spoil useful habits. And then it's all downhill from there.
The whole free bible study thing is just a clever way of sucking you in and recruiting you.
As far as being Christian is concerned - they believe that Christ was Jehovah's son but not in his divinity,as such. They believe that they are the only true Christians, hence calling themselves The Truth, and that the rest of us are part of false Christendom.
Hmmm stuff to think about then! I am supposed to be going to some special talk on Sunday - will see how that goes.
It just sounded really interesting but I don't want to get sucked into anything. Not sure I would as no one in my family even believes in God never mind being JWs.
What stressedHEmum said. I had a few Bible study sessions with the JWs last year and I found them very pushy. The whole thing got me quite stressed.
They believe that they are the only true Christians, hence calling themselves The Truth, and that the rest of us are part of false Christendom
But isn't that pretty much the same as what non-JW Christians say about JWs in that 'they've got it all wrong and we're right', an opinion that has been clearly expressed on this thread. from what I can see they just have their own interpretation of the bible as all the other's have theirs.
I don't think anyone is saying that the JWs are 'wrong' and mainstream Christians are 'right'. But if the OP wants to 'do Bible study' then she is most likely wanting to find out what mainstream Christians believe about it, not what one very specific group believe. Therefore she needs to be cautious about hearing one limited and unusual point of view, and thinking she has heard what 'Christians' think the Bible says (although that in itself is a very varied topic, and things like the Alpha course will probably also present a limited view).
JWs are also very well known for being 'pushy', and for their Bible study opportunities actually being manipulative. They recruit in a very 'friendly' way, and then discourage their members from involvement with people (even family) outside their own denomination.
It's not something that anyone should just 'sleepwalk' into - if she really wants to get deeply involved in a religion, then JWs are an available choice. But if she does't, then she neds to be aware of the risks.
To be fair, I've met some pretty pushy Christians who would probably consider themselves 'mainstream'.
But I don't think there is any such thing as mainstream anyway is there? Arguably there are more Catholics floating around than other denominations, but they have different beliefs to C of E, who is the mainstream?
My guess is that mainstream means different things to different people and likely to be whatever they happen to be themselves.
JWs are also very well known for being 'pushy', and for their Bible study opportunities actually being manipulative. They recruit in a very 'friendly' way, and then discourage their members from involvement with people (even family) outside their own denomination.
Yet here you are discouraging involvement with JWs.... And you're friendly, no?
So the way it works with religion is that whatever the majority thinks must be right? I thought Jesus said something about 'the way being narrow'?
I don't discourage people from being friends with JWs. I discourage them from joining a religious group which discourages you from spending any time with anyone outside of that specific religion.
And 'friendly' is not the same as actually being friendly. Hence the quotes.
I also know a lot of pushy mainstream Christians. I wouldn't encourage her to join them either. But I believe there is slightly more chance of her not being manipulated into anything in a different setting - not her alone with two JWs. A larger group of 'interested beginners' gives more chance of hearing alternative points of view.
Oh and mainstream Christianity = those which believe what is in the Nicene Creed, which includes Protestants, Catholics, and the Orthodox churches. There are variations in belief, but not in the essentials. JWs are not in that group, because their beliefs are significantly different in the essentials - like Christ being divine, like the Trinity, like what happens after death.
They are more of a cult than a religion and id advise you not to take her up on her offer
I'm not saying mainstream Christians are right. I'm saying if the OP wants to know what 'Christians' think, then she'd be better off finding out what mainstream Christians think, not one obscure sect.
She started with the assumption that JWs were 'Christians' - that is not the case by most normal definitions. I'd say pretty much anyone of another religion, or an atheist, would say that Christians believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. So, by common understanding, JWs are not what people mean when they say 'Christians'.
She's welcome to go talk to anyone, of any religion. But its worth pointing out some basics before she wanders along to this.
Cult: A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
Religion: The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.
I personally don't find the two to be that different. Only that people of religion would attribute the word cult to smaller and/or newer religions such as Scientology.
I consider that all organised religions fall under the category of cult.
JWs are not what people mean when they say 'Christians'.
Depends who you talk to. They use the bible, so I'd consider them Christians.
Christians possibly. Not mainstream.
So, would your viewpoint be that the OP shouldn't go along to the Bible study then?
Presumably because people will try to convince her of their ideas and get her to join their religion?
Is that so very different from what I am saying, apart from the fact that you disapprove equally of my choice of denomination?
No I wouldn't I have had several from my FIL who is an Elder and my STBXH
I have thought I would like to look into a religion but this one is not for me at all.
So there are only so many 'chosen ones' (not all JWs will go onto to this life)would be chosen for the everlasting oh so perfect life free of crime drugs, where everyone is happy and no-one ever has affairs etc
It's a lovely thought but I don't believe a word of it, on saying that there is no harm in you finding this out yourself.
I think if you want to study the bible then it doesn't really matter where you go to do that. You will be given a different interpretation everywhere you go, so why not expand your understanding by taking in different view points?
You'll only get sucked in by the JWs if you believe what they say about not speaking to other people. If you are still sound of mind then it's just another place to get a different view point.
I don't disapprove as such, I think the point being made is that JW's have no more or less basis for their beliefs as any single other theist.
Surely the alpha course is a way of recruiting members into the Christian faith, though? How is it different from JW bible study groups? Genuine question - I am not a believer.
narmada - I'm not that keen on Alpha either tbh, but the big difference is that you are not on your own in a house with two people trying to convince you, you are part of a bigger group and are likely to hear a few more questions and dissenting comments.
It's like, I'd sooner go to a presentation than have a pair of double glazing salesman in my front room (or be in theirs). It's about the feeling of being outnumbered, and being made to feel like the one unreasonable person who isn't agreeing with their carefully-thought-through points. The pressure is a lot greater in that situation.
I do see your point amuminscotland now you put it like that.
AMIS has the right if it. The situation with a JW study is that there are always 2 of them and usually only 1 student.
The questions are all very leading and the WBTS publishes books for it's members giving answers to counteract all kinds of questions that you might have. There is literature on how to deal with Muslims/Buddhists/Hindus etc. on how to answer questions about life after death, mainstream Christian beliefs, the blood issue, the bad associations issue, on their belief that their leaders are the "faithful and discreet slave", how to diffuse questions about all their false prophesies of doom... you name it. It is all very clearly thought out and planned to lead you where they want you to go.
They are not mainstream Christians, many believe that they are not Christian at all, by accepted definitions, just like LDS.
It can be really hard not to get "sucked in" because of the situation. They are always very reasonable and make you feel unreasonable if you don't believe. When you go along to meetings, you are smothered with love and attention and drawn in. The move to distance you from your friends and family is quite subtle, and any opposition that you come up against is just used as proof that you are on the right track. Opposition is Satan's way of keeping you from the truth.
In saying all of that, I despise things like Alpha as well. I would start by reading the bible and some kind of commentary as mentioned above. I believe in people making their own mind up not in leading folk to the decision that you want.
Is it something to worry about then? I work with the girl who suggested the Bible study.
I am pretty secure in my faith but don't know many believers at all. Hmmmmm....
Their aim will be to "suck you in" - unless you are either super-confident of your ability to resist that sort of thing from people who are lovely and friendly and nice and make you feel guilty, or you'd actually like to join a religion that will make you feel loved and accepted just as long as you accept what they say 100% and don't want to continue being in close contact with anyone else, then I'd really, really say "Don't do it".
FWIW we did have a bible-study thread on here for a while, but interest sort of drifted off - would something like that work for you?
Are you Someone with your own thoughts, ideas and reasonings? Then you won't be sucked in. The thing with all christian religions is to actually focus on the bible not on mans interpretation of it. If you want to learn more about the bible, by all means have a study. You know you can insist on continuing to use your own bible. You can decline the NWT politely if offered. You are not a sheep and can decide for yourself how to live or how far you want to go with any religion.
You see I already think I would feel a bit weird insisting on using my Bible.
I have my own ideas and thoughts but they are probably very convincing people.
She was trying to explain what they think of the Trinity to me and it sounded rational - just not what I believe.
It's very tricky discussing things like this with people who already have a convincing set of answers worked out, as you tend to think "I must be being thick/awkward". And most people want to fit in with those they are spending time with, specially if they feel those people are "taking the time" to be nice to them.
I expect your colleague is actually a nice person, and the people who you did the bible study with would probably also be nice people. And they would try, for your own good, to convince you that what they believe, and what makes them feel happy and special, would be a good thing for you too. They don't even have to be deliberately manipulative. to push you into feeling that you "ought" to try to see their point of view.
But they do have training in "being convincing" and in a set of arguments for their point of view that have been worked out in advance to give to people like you - whereas you will be trying to express your doubts and concerns for the first time, struggling to put them into words, which puts you at a big disadvantage when trying to stick to your own viewpoint.
But, as long as you have a decent understanding of your own faith, there shouldn't be an issue surely? Either you can agree with what they are saying or disagree. And if you agree with it all, then chances are its the faith for you.
Again, completely agree with AMIS. You have to be super secure and confident in your own ideas or else don't do it.
JWs have a special weekly meeting, called Theocratic Ministry School, that all publishers should attend. The aim of this meeting is to teach them how to put their point across and how to answer questions in such a way that they seem right, reasonable and well thought out and everybody else is actually being blinded by Satan.
It all seems so reasonable and they are so earnest that it is very, very difficult, once you start, the break away. So unless you are looking for something that, literally, takes over and dictates the very minutiae of your live and separates you from all your current family and friends, I would not take your friend up on her offer.
I would expect the local Baptist church could send someone to do a Bible study with you, if you explained that your need for non-standard timings was such that you were about to sign up for JW training sessions. They're generally really good about nurturing new or wobbly Christians.
A chat with an RC priest might be worth thinking about too, especially if he can put you in touch with another mother who wants to look at each Sunday's Bible readings; JW are often told not to go back to the homes of committed Catholics (too good at awkward Scripture questions ).
i know someone who has recently left JW after being brought up in the religion. Her whole family including her parents have been made to abandon her because of it and it has been heartbreaking
Bran, that's what happens when you leave. JWs practice shunning so people who leave lose their entire network of friends and, often, family. I was lucky because none of my family were JWs, I was a convert, so I at least had that to go back to. Lots of people are not so lucky.
Shunning is supposed to be about loving discipline and about keeping the congregation "clean", but it is unbelievably cruel.
I went to the meeting the other weekend and it was a little odd!
Big thing that stood out was that they have different ideas about the Trinity.
All a bit confusing and lots of talk of demons and people being led astray. Not sure if I am seen as a bad influence!
People were mostly friendly - lots of hand shaking.
My neighbour is a JW. She is very nice. Rather pushy about her views though. We have had a number of discussions about religion. I am unsure of whether I believe or not and what exactly i do believe or want to believe.
We had discussions about a range of things and she managed to push my views aside and dismiss them quite easily. Which is fine, because I'm only debating things and trying to understand.
She gives me magazines, she lends me dvd's for my dc's to watch, all fine, the dvd was quite nice, but I'd be wary.
She invites me to meetings and the like often, and although I said I'd think about it and I am open to hear anyone's view, I don't think I ever will.
Something about the pushiness makes me feel very uneasy.
There is a lot of talk about demons. Satan is prowling around like a hungry lion, waiting to pounce on any weakness and drag you away from the truth.
Any and all opposition is proof that you are on the right track and that Satan is worried that you are learning the truth. All sorts of things are connected to worshipping Satan and false religion - clinking glasses in a toast, saying bless you, listening to sacred music or music connected to other faiths...
As far as being a bad influence - you will be until you are more firmly attached to the congregation. Your friend and other JWs will be encouraged to associate with you but not in social situations. Now that you have been to a meeting, you can expect more talk of bible studies etc.
people will be VERY friendly because they are trying to attract you in. Did you know that JWs are encouraged to believe that it's all right to not be truthful about all their beliefs to outsiders. it's a combination of theological warfare - where they don't want the devil to know about their plans/beliefs etc. and the belief that "milk comes before meat."
I was surprised at some of the clothes worn at the meeting - I assumed it would all be really modest but although the skirts were knee length they were really tight pencil skirts.
I kind of like the idea of being a bad influence - never been considered that before!
Lots of talk of demons floating around - oh and if you used tarot cards you will have demons around you forever trying to mess up your life.
I'll just mention what I said on another thread about the topic of what a cult is. Here are a couple of dictionary definitions of cult.
"a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or as imposing excessive control over members"
"A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader."
Anyone can look up the defininitions yourself.
I would be interested to know if those who have had direct contact with Jehovah's Witnesses, as a group, would say if they think JWs are a cult.
Of course there are many who do not like all religions and would happily lump them altogether. With all respect some people who post here are atheist so presumably are not making comments about one religion because they think it is correct, not if they are an atheist and they think they are all wrong.
It seems from their website that JWs believe themselves to be Christians but they do not believe in the Trinity, which is one of the main thing which defines a Christian. Having said this I have met very lovely JWs on my doorstep. We chatted, I said what I believed, they said what they believed and we ended up hugging each other! I am sure there are lovely people amongst the JWs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I wouldn't go to one. I'd prefer to ask at the mainstream churches what they'd recommend.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
Thank you for the links - I will look into them! 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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
It was interesting in a way to see what verses they used to back up their points - we were using the JW bible so I don't know if they are altered compared to normal Bible translations.
It was amusing that at the start I was asked if I thought that Jesus was God and I said yes. Then we read the chapter. Then at the end they expected me to completely change my mind based on their study book. To give up Jesus so easily!
To me, the definition of a Christian is someone who follows Jesus Christ (hence CHRIST-ian) . It sounds like JWs don't believe Jesus was "the Christ" so how can they be Christian?
Having convinced yourself that 1. you disagree with them and 2. they want to convince you of something you disagree with, do you plan to keep going? I think it's good that you've tried it and can recognise their strategies. But I'm not sure what you'd get out of continuing to go, now you've given it a try. Either you'll continue to disagree with them, in which case you will be having to reach your own conclusions in some other way, or you'll find yourself starting to think they have a valid point.
If I get one thing right today, please let it be putting my 2-pence' worth into dissuading you from continuing with the JW Bible study group.
DP was raised a JW and although he has had no adult involvement with this group, it continues to cast a long and unpleasant shadow over our lives together, impacting in so many ways.
I've learnt to just live with the complete wierdness which permeates all aspects of dealing with his family (which we do as little as possible), and it really is a wonder that he isn't in more of a mess than he is, nearly 4 decades and a lifetime of therapy on.
My MiL and her friends in the congregation seem nice as pie and the close-knit feel of the group can appear quite attractive but scratch the surface and you find people who are so hard, judgemental and completely devoid of any real compassion. I will never forget listening to MiL and her JW friends talking about the kids DP grew up with, "in the Truth", whom have since left the congregation, and coldly dismissing the many personal tragedies which seemed to have befallen those now grown up kids as justified punishments by Jehovah for disassociating themselves with the faith, and hard but necessary lessons for their parents. What makes it so chilling is that they were talking about sufferers of mental illness, victims of domestic violence, cancer, depression, eating disorders and, shockingly, the very recent suicide of one of the sons of the women present in this way, all in absolute and terrifying agreement. No hint of empathy or sadness, only self-satisfied righteousness.
DP grew up under the constant threat of violence in the name of Jehovah; severe beatings for the smallest things were deemed the norm in their congregation. The indoctrination is second to none and runs so deeply that he is still able to "quote scripture" and skewed JW rhetoric with sickening accuracy and aplomb if asked.
Oh dear, I keep writing and re-writing this, because I find myself overwhelmed with the strength of my feelings about it. Please listen to Stressed and others who speak from experience and hindsight, and make your exit now. I am sure your colleague is lovely, but really, you owe her nothing. The very best of luck to you.
oh, Peaceful, your poor DH. Sadly his story is not uncommon.
Under the surface of any Jw is a hard, judgemental person. Congregations are full of judgement for those who leave, those who stay but aren't "strong enough in the truth", and other congregations. it all comes from never knowing if you've done enough to survive Armageddon and from the fear of having to measure even the minutiae of your life against impossible standards.
it's really hard to escape, partly because of the fear of Armageddon and of condemning your children to certain, awful death, and partly because the indoctrination goes so deep that life outside is really hard. Satan is everywhere don't you know, in the books you read, the songs you listen to, the cards you send, the jewelry you wear, the people you know, the places you go. It takes a long, long time to adjust and even years later, the thinking is still there somewhere.
as to their view of Jesus, they will not stop, OP, trying to convince you. They will do everything they can to bring you in. They are compelled to do so. I used to have a friend that devoted 125 hours a month minimum to preaching just so that she could avoid the blood guilt of not doing enough.
Please get out while you can.
There're many ways or religions with their own look or interpretation on the bible.
If you'd like to have a study with the JW's, why not?
If you feel ok with it there's nothing wrong with it.
There're a lot of good, but also wrong people to be found among the JW's, same as with any other religious group or any group of people.
They're good, except they 'kick' JW's out of the group if they don't follow the rules. Then none of the other witnesses are allowed to have a chat or any form of contact with that other person. Even if it's someone of your own family or someone you've known for all your life.
Have a study with them, but I'd advice never to get baptized.
They also have some odd rules like don't celebrate birthdays. Yet the bible doesn't say it's not allowed to do that.
And they don't take or give blood. They don't celebrate Christmas, because it's coming from pagan celebration/rituals. But if you look into history almost everything has got his origin or is being influenced by pagan beliefs.
These rules change. There's a big difference between their rules now and when this religion started.
Some of mine friends are JW's and I've been doing a bible study with them and went to their meetings. I've met other witnesses there. Some are nice and some others just give me an uncomfortable feeling.
Please don't even consider doing a Bible Study with the FUCKING JEHOVAH WITNESSES THEY ARE PURE EVIL THROUGH AND THROUGH. I did a Bible Study with one particular Jehovah woman and she let me down completely. She encouraged me to do the Bible Studies, introduced me to "brothers/sisters" of their 'cult' and took me to their meetings. Then she told me to tell my family or she wouldn't be able to continue to do the Bible Studies with me plus she said she would support me when I did. Well she didn't and left me to sort it out myself. Me and my husband almost split up because of the Jehovah Witnesses. She tried to convert me into her religion and let me down. I thought she was a friend but then she told me she wasn't a friend and she just wanted me to convert to her religion.
Okay dokay so I decided that the last session would be the last one as I wanted to finish the chapter. (I am odd like that!) It just seems an odd religion all around to me - having to commit all those hours and recording time spent on conversations about God etc. with non-believers towards some monthly target. Seems a bit like a sales team to me.
Before I could mention it she said she had a really big surprise for me and that an "overseer" was coming to the area and she had arranged for her to come to my next study. She seemed really excited so I guess it gets her brownie points somewhere.
So the plan now is that Monday will be the last study. I will just let her know after the session as I don't really want to embarrass her in front of this overseer person. I wonder if I am being checked out by some higher up people as I tend to ask a lot of questions.
The fake friend thing is a little odd to me - do they just do that to draw you in the dump you if you do join or are they genuinely interested in the people doing studies?
If you don't join then they dump you because JWs aren't really allowed outside friends. If you do join, many witnesses remain close friends with the person who brought them into "the Truth", but like everywhere else, there is a lot of bitchiness and back biting in JW congregations especially over things like the number of hours they spend in the preaching work.
The overseer will be a man. Women aren't allowed positions of authority within JWs. He will be doing his twice yearly visit to the local congregation and will be coming along to you because your friend thinks that you are a likely study. All the questions might be seen as you trying to find out more about the Truth more quickly, iyswim. He'll also be seeing how she handles a study. A circuit overseer is kind of like a manager, he looks after about 20 or so congregations and spends his time travelling between them.
The whole logging of hours thing is so that the society can keep track of what each witness is doing. if you do less than a couple of hours a week you are considered "inactive" and therefore on the fringes of the congregation. You will be asked to bring up your hours. if you are a man, you won't be allowed any extra responsibilities unless you keep regular publishing hours. As I said before, it is a religion of very little grace. JWs belief that the preaching work is key to surviving Armageddon, so the more hours that you do, the better your chances of surviving, as long as everything else in your life tallies with what Jehovah commands. it's very much a works not grace faith.
It is sad to think that they present themselves as this perfect community where everyone loves each other and yet they still judge one another.
Ooooooh for some reason I assumed the overseer would be a woman!! I do ask a lot of questions but I don't know if I like being classed as a likely study. Guess they will have a surprise when I extract myself from future sessions!
The idea that you have to put in hours and hours door knocking and doing studies to get into heaven is unsettling. It would seem .... nicer? perhaps if they believed in grace based salvation and yet still believed enough to share their faith. Not that they are trying to ensure their own salvation.
Id not go. I know what I believe (believe m I've worked it through) and I know I'd just get cross.
My dh might. He's much quicker off the mark with theology tan e.
quizzywizz I didn't post on this thread before but was lurking . I was wondering how you got on when you said you didn't want to continue. How are things with your colleague?
I'm not a JW but can say that they do believe in Jesus Christ . The difference is they believe He is Jehovah (God)'s son but not that He is God.
quizzywizz, you haven't posted in some months...If you continued your study because you are learning/enjoying it, it would be great to let people on here know. If you chose not to, I think people are interested in how your "exit" went as well.
To clarify a few things very simply, and offer some helpful advice to anyone looking to study the Bible, especially with a JW or two(you can choose, all you have to do is ask...some find it fun to meet someone new at various times, and no student has ever been discouraged from bringing as many others to the study as they wish-100 to 1 would be acceptable, Jesus spoke before upwards of 5000 at a time, why should any Christian be afraid to do the same if He is really "with us"?):
Why "study" the Bible in addition to just "reading" the Bible? One definition of "reading" or "to read" is "to receive or take in the sense of (as letters or symbols) especially by sight or touch" --> While a definition of "studying" or "study" is "application of the mental faculties to the acquisition of knowledge"...so, what's the difference? If you were to read a repair manual for your car, would you then be able to do everything in the manual? How about if you were to read, then meditate on it, try it and practice it, possibly reading it and thinking about it more times? Which of those practices would result in your better knowing how to repair your car? In the same way, most Christians believe that the Bible is our manual for life. God Himself said at Isaiah 48:17 that he is trying to 'teach people to benefit themselves'.
Does this wisdom from Solomon sound like "just reading" is involved?: Proverbs 2:4-5, 20 (International Standard Xlation) - "if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and learn to know God......20 This is how you will walk in the way of good men and will keep to the paths of the righteous.
"Mainstream Christian" = Did Jesus teach that "mainstream" would likely be the correct "Way"? According to Jesus, is "believing" enough to enjoy the "grace" of God?
Matthew 7:13-14 (American Standard Xlation) - ""Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Only 7 verses later, Jesus makes clear he is not talking about "Christians" vs "non-Christians", but instead of 'true' Christians vs 'those who claim to be' Christian. People don't say "Lord" unless they "believe", but James points out that even the demons "believe", but it isn't going to save them.
Matthew 7:21-23 (AMX again) - "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" <-- Caps theirs, not mine ;-)
Did you ever realize that Jesus Christ led to the coining of the phrase "It's My Way or the highway!" ? Makes you think right?! ;-) And He said He learned that from God.
But really that is the whole big question right? I mean if God really created everything then does he have the right to say what is right and what is wrong? Can he rightfully say to each and every creation "I want you to live together in the following way, and if you don't like it, you can just leave." Kinda sounds like something any dad would say right? So if someone wishes to "leave", where does one go 'outside of creation'?
Why is it not enough to just "believe"? If you went into the store and looked at the "Enquirer" tabloid paper and it said your town was undergoing a major virus epidemic and that you should evacuate, what would you do? What if that same message came across all TV channels on the "Emergency Broadcast Frequency" and that you needed to evacuate, then what would you do? Even if both of them were just talking about a "flu bug", and so you believed they were both telling the truth about the virus, would not one of those levels of "belief" move you to action? Maybe because of the reliability, accuracy, and maybe the 'sense of urgency' from the source? Is Jesus message not one of saving lives?
So some above, in their comments, mentioned it being not cool that the JWs view themselves as the only ones that are "right" and that "everyone else is wrong"...so I would ask anyone of ANY faith; if you DON'T believe your faith is the only right one, then why on Earth are you in it?!
Is it reasonable to expect ALL of the people in ANY group of imperfect humans to PERFECTLY represent the ideals of that group? Did not the Apostle Peter deny even knowing Jesus 3 times? Did not two of the apostles request of Jesus that they be allowed to call down fire and brimstone from Heaven on a town that did not receive Jesus well? Did not two of the apostles get their mom to go ask Jesus to give them special places with Him in Heaven? Did not the apostles, on more than one occasion, get into heated arguments about who of them was of more importance "greater"; one of those times even being during the last supper before His death? Yet would anyone try to argue that these bad attitudes and ridiculous displays of arrogance, pride, selfishness, wrong thinking, and fear of man took away from the message of Christ? In fact, did Jesus remove any of those apostles from their position due to their un-Christian attitudes; or did He cover it over with forgiveness? And what would He ask us to do? hmmmmm
Others above complained that the JWs are trained to be persuasive and ready to answer most things, and that they are "told not to go back to the homes of committed Catholics (too good at awkward Scripture questions wink)"...these statements are partial truths, but the Bible makes clear in what instances they should be true:
2 Timothy 2:15 (International Std. again) - Do your best to present yourself to God as an approved worker who has nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of truth with precision. <-- Does this sound like it should be untrained or unprepared?
Here is an "awkward scripture question" for you: If Jesus words say
John 14:28 (KJV - and the same writer that wrote John 1:1) - Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
and John 20:17 (also KJV - same writer again) - Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
but the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds both say that Jesus and God are equal to each other. Neither of these "creeds" is in the Bible, nor do they make any references to it (unlike the Apostolic Creed which has a scriptural reference for each point of belief)...so, who's word do you believe? That in the Bible or that in a couple agreements of men that happen to be accepted by ALL of the "MAINSTREAM" Christian religions...hmmmm
Yet, if someone is "committed" to this belief, despite the proof in the Bible, would it make any sense to just go and argue with them? Interestingly the Apostle Paul gave Timothy advice on exactly this matter:
1 Timothy 6:3-4 (God's Word Xlation) - Whoever teaches false doctrine and doesn't agree with the accurate words of our Lord Jesus Christ and godly teachings is a conceited person. He shows that he doesn't understand anything. Rather, he has an unhealthy desire to argue and quarrel about words. This produces jealousy, rivalry, cursing, suspicion,..."
I highly recommend this parallel translation site ( www.biblos.com ) for use in learning important terms like:
Why use certain names for God and Christ? Read the below scripture and then answer, whose name is it saying to call upon?
Acts 2:21 (KJV) - And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Romans 10:13 (KJV) - For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
From the above readings, I would guess that you would come up with the same conclusion as I would, "Jesus" right? Some people say "well, some things haven't been translated right from Greek into English because the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic, not in Greek, so something was lost in translation"...This is not in fact the case, as proven by archaeology, but just to play along let's see what the Aramaic to English translation says of the same exact scripture:
Acts 2:21 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English) - And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of THE LORD JEHOVAH shall receive life.' <-- Caps theirs, not mine ;-)
Romans 10:13 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English) - For everyone who will call the name of THE LORD JEHOVAH shall be saved. <-- Caps theirs, not mine ;-)
Does this difference strike you as important? Does it impress upon your mind the need to pay close attention to the translations you choose to use?
A fun scriptural challenge (hid treasures!): Some people ONLY believe in using the King James translation of the Bible, believing it to be the earliest and most pure, despite it's difficult readability. Go to your local Wal-Mart and go to the book section. You will find they have a good few Bibles, one of which is a King James Version, another of which is the NEW King James Version. Open them both to Psalm 83:18 and see what it says about the name of God (Your local Dollar Store is probably selling the "Old" King James as well)...do you see the difference? In the "Old" one is God's name Jehovah, one of only 4 places it still is left in that version...in the "New" one, it has been REMOVED and replaced with LORD. Does anyone think Jesus would find it acceptable to remove His name from the entire Bible? and yet didn't He say that His Father was GREATER then Him? Recite the first line of the "Lord's Prayer"...what name does Jesus say should be "hallowed" or "made holy" or "sanctified"? (And if Jesus IS God, then who was he praying to all those times he prayed, and why?) Did you know that the above scriptures in Acts and Romans both pull from one of the last prophets in Jerusalem before Jesus? Look up Joel 2:32.
All of this has proven to be nothing but truth. I am a JW. I have been disfellowshipped (kicked out, shunned, excommunicated) 3 times, yet I am still going back...why? because there is ONLY ONE TRUTH.
Jesus said 'You will learn the truth, and the truth will set you free." which people love to quote, but they are using "free" in a sense of "total freedom" (as in the comment from "HoneyAndRum" above)...but if you check your history(Genesis), there was only one being that promised "total freedom", and it wasn't God. Jehovah God gave humans freedom to act within the bounds of what He knows is beneficial. Are you a horrible parent if you won't let your child have the freedom to play with a gun? Are you an overly oppressive human if you won't allow someone to steal from you? What if you won't allow someone to scream hateful abusive things at someone else, does that make you a tyrant? COMPLETE Freedom is called anarchy, and no, God did NOT give that to anyone.
It is unfortunate that "Peaceful" is anything but as they are 'overwhelmed with their strong feelings on this matter' and therefore spouting very biased "information", as goes for a few others including "stressed"...yes, beliefs have changed, but if you check your facts, they have changed to be MORE in line with the Bible, instead of not-at-all, or further away (like adopting beliefs/customs/practices of the world in general to fit in)...One of the biggest arguments on here was that regarding 'loss of family' due to religious difference (holidays and other practices)...then all of those people must really be disgusted by Jesus words at Luke 12:49 I came to start a fire on the earth, and what more is there for me to wish if it has already been lighted? 50 Indeed, I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and how I am being distressed until it is finished! 51 Do YOU imagine I came to give peace on the earth? No, indeed, I tell YOU, but rather division. 52 For from now on there will be five in one house divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against [her] mother, mother-in-law against [her] daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against [her] mother-in-law.
But He did explain why that would happen at Matthew 10:36 Indeed, a mans enemies will be persons of his own household. 37 He that has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and he that has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me.
But beautifully, while some people think Jesus is taking too long to return (yes we do believe that), but remember that He is sitting at the right hand of God (but according to some, he is sitting to the right hand of Himself?...)...so some feel God is taking too long to 'put all His enemies under His feet'...sometimes these split families come together in truth eventually (remember, even Jesus own brothers were not believers at first...it took time) so sometimes, in our human imperfection and impatience, we forget to see things through the eyes of Jehovah and Jesus...so the Apostle Peter gave us a loving reminder at 2 Peter 3:8 However, let this one fact not be escaping YOUR notice, beloved ones, that one day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. 9 Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with YOU because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.
May our Savior Jesus and our Creator Jehovah bless the search for truth of each one of you. emails are welcome <email address deleted by MNHQ for privacy reasons>
Hmmm...I just re-read what I posted and noticed one thing at the end that could sound a way other than I meant it...in the last paragraph in the first sentence I said "while some people think Jesus is taking too long to return (yes we do believe that)..." I was making the statement that 'we do believe that he is returning', but it could sound like I was saying 'we believe He is taking too long'...from the completion of the paragraph one can tell easily that is not the case, but I thought I would clarify...oops! :-)
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