Let me ask you a question. Have you ever asked yourself why you believe what you believe? Up until around the age of 28, I never did. Up until that time, I just went with the flow. I didn't question anything. My worship and my religion was a one-way street: I listened to what I was told by you and Dad, and by the Society. Everything they said, I automatically assumed to be true, because it was from God's Channel, right? The Faithful and Discreet Slave. If they said it, it literally was true to me, because if God was using them, he wouldn't use them to teach me something false. I wasn't following 1Thess 5:21 very well, was I? Sure, I'd read the scriptures attached to the paragraphs, but many religions use scriptures just that same way, so their presence wasn't (or shouldn't have been) an automatic badge of truth. But that is how I looked at it. I even thought to myself sometimes "I'm just going to take their word for it on that Scripture, it's Jehovah's Organization." I strongly believe that many other Witnesses, including you yourself, operate this way--we are so busy, we're willing to take their word for it. Up until recently, I hadn't sat down and done real Bible study (not the guided tours of the Watchtower studies) for years.
But at a certain point things started wearing thin for me and it became time for me to ask myself the question: Why do I believe what I believe? And you know what? Believe it or not, it was an article from the Society that made me start to ask that question. You can read it too, if you want, they posted it on the Watchtower web site. It's at http://www.watchtower.org/library/w/2001/8/1/article_02.htm.
So there I was, asking myself that question. And the answer was "Because my parents told me it was the truth." You may say I never "made the truth my own." Perhaps that is true, but have you?
Why do YOU believe what you believe? Were you persuaded to believe it, or did you always? Perhaps you'll appeal to a lifetime of service to God, and the things you've seen as a Witness--but has anything you've seen been unique to the Witnesses?
To put it very simply--have you completely made up your mind? Are you beyond analysis, information, decisions, proof? Do you KNOW that it's "the truth," or are you 85% sure? Is there anything, anything at all, that could be shown to you, or that you could experience, that would convince you otherwise? And if the answer is "no," are you comfortable with that? If there's one thing that adherents to all religions have in common, it's that their religion is correct. Is it fair for you as a pioneer to ask those people to question their faiths, and to think about whether or not what they've always believed is true, if you're not willing to do it yourself?
Don't say "well if such-and-such happened, I'd believe that it wasn't God's Organization, but that will never happen." I don't want to hear the "that will never happen" comments. You know what I used to say in the 80's, when I was a tender young lad? I used to say "There is no way that this system could go on to the year 2000. If it goes on that long, I will know this isn't the truth. But that will never happen."
Here we are in 2006, though, and in many ways (certainly not all) the world is in much better shape than it was in the 50's and 60's and 70's. It certainly isn't worse. The main reason I used to look forward to the New Order coming was so that other kids would stop picking on me, and it would free me from my own private particular Hell that I went through in school. Only, it never came, and I lived through the Hell, and in fact that hope kept me from working on my problems and making changes that might have helped. It made me sit and "wait on Jehovah" to solve my problems, when in fact I should well have been solving them myself.
You probably think things like "This old system of Satan's is almost over and done with. I don't see how it could go on for another ten years." Witnesses were saying that in the early 70's, though--you probably remember that one. They were saying it in the 40's, during World War 2. Bible Students were definitely saying it in the 1900's and 1910's, because they thought that 1914 was the end (see your Proclaimers book). They were even saying it in the 1870's.
I'd like to know the answer. Why? Why do you believe? And what would convince you otherwise?