I read the Draw Close to Jehovah book because a Jehovahs Witness told me that it had some ?deep? spiritual information in it. The book appears, at first glance, to be all about knowing Jehovah God and his attributes. The book is divided into sections, each of which relate to different things that the bible tells us about God. Is its true purpose purely to help us to be close to Jehovah God?
I have never read a Watchtower publication whose true purpose is so cleverly shrouded. This book?s sole purpose is to leave the non-JW reader with an embedded belief that they didn?t have before:
Jehovah God = Watchtower
Watchtower = Jehovah God
This may sound extreme, but I intend to show you how I reached that conclusion. The writer uses various strategies that are designed to disarm the reader and gradually begin to influence them.
Strategy One: A new format
The format of this book is designed to subtlly influence. Other Watchtower publications (such as the ?Live Forever? book for example) have clearly defined ?sections? which are loosely arranged as ?here is the doctrine? then (at the end of the book) ?here is what we think you should do about it?. With the Draw Close to Jehovah book the writer uses an entirely different strategy.
The entire book is presented as purely providing more information about Jehovah and how we might draw close to him. What the reader doesn?t realise is that it is also littered with the suggestion that there is something ?more? required and that ?something? is not drawing close to God, it is drawing close to the Watchtower organisation. Because the suggestion is hidden within the other ?scriptural? information, it is difficult to identify and guard against.
Strategy Two: ?Relax. We?re Christian just like you?
Basically the first chapter lays the groundwork by saying absolutely nothing that is controversial. It talks about Jehovah as a Loving Father who wants to be close to us all. This chapter would be seen as a favourable summary of God the Father by most Christians, and it would be a comforting introduction for the non-religious person. However, it does not answer the question that the book is supposed to be answering ?How do we ?Draw Close to Jehovah??
The fact that this question is not answered yet serves the purpose of 1. building anticipation in the reader for this secret of how to know God 2. puts the writer in a position of power (the writer has, up until now, quoted scripture and suggested that ?he? has a special knowledge of God).
This second point leads us to the next strategy used:
Strategy Three: ?We know something you don?t?
The very first page of this book is presented as a letter to the reader: ?May this book help you to draw ever closer to Jehovah God, to forge a bond with him that will never be broken, so that you may live to praise him forever.?
This letter hints that the writer knows how to help you draw close to God himself.
The next chapter entitled ?Can you really ?Draw Close to God??? mentions briefly that Jesus is involved. The paragraph is entitled ?Jehovah Has Opened the Way? and says ?Yes, Jehovah arranged for Jesus ?to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many? (Matthew 20:28) Our faith in that ransom sacrifice makes it possible for us to be close to God.?
Christians would agree with that, also the following section which mentions the benefit of bible reading. Now the reader feels secure that this is a book which is based upon scripture, a Christian reader will note the mention of Jesus and be comforted. Then and only then do the Watchtower writers begin to hint that theirs is the only way. It starts with the paragraph ?A Study Aid to Help Us?
?Searching for Jehovah involves coming to know his qualities and ways as revealed in the bible. This study aid that you are now reading is designed to help you in that endeavour?.
Isn?t it revealing that the Watchtower is telling the reader that they might actually need more than faith in Jesus and bible reading? Why would a Christian need any further ?help? in the matter?
As you read on, the book becomes more and more littered by these ?subtle? suggestions that faith (In God and Jesus Sacrifice) alone isn?t good enough.
Strategy Four: ?There are true Christians and there are False Christians?
Up until now the Christian reader thought that all faithful Christians were approved of by God.
One sentence in the fourth chapter begins introducing the idea that there are Christians who don?t know these ?important? things:
?Yet, few in today?s world truly recognise God?s power. Still fewer view it properly?
Then here another subtle hint at an ?approved group of Christians? in paragraph 9
?Jehovah also exerts power through his authority as Universal Sovereign. Can you imagine having millions upon millions of intelligent, able subjects eager to do your bidding? Jehovah wields such power. He has human servants, often likened to an army?
It is notable that the writer immediately goes on to talk about angels rather than expanding upon the army of human servants. Again, this shows how the writer uses the strategy of telling the reader this information in as subtle a way as possible ? in between the scriptural information about God.
Strategy Five: ?Questions for Meditation?
Each chapter has ?Questions for Meditation?. These questions reveal a lot about the true purpose of the book. They are what the watchtower want you to remember from the information. Interestingly, the questions do not relate to any particular paragraph. They also each have one scripture reference (presumably which offers the answer to the question raised).
In chapter two we are asked the question ?What conduct is essential if we are to maintain a close relationship with Jehovah??
A christian might answer ?love of God and neighbour? to that question, but note that the watchtower give this scripture as a reference:
2 Corinthians 6:14 to 7:1
14Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
17"Therefore come out from them
and be separate, says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you."
18"I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."[
1Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
This scripture isn't about good conduct, it is really about not being part of the "unbelievers". Again this is a reference to "there are bad Christians and we'll show you how to be a good Christian"
This is a review of just the first few chapters. I will review the rest of the book where time allows. The book does continue to exert more influence upon the reader until they feel that simple faith in God and love for others isn?t enough and they must be part of the Watchtower organisation. Towards the end of the book it is suggested that preaching the "good news" is also what Jehovah requires, aswell as attending meetings to "worship Jehovah". Hence the Watchtower introduces the idea that if you don't follow the Watchtower you are not following Jehovah.
Jehovah = Watchtower.