Hey everyone. I just wanted to share with everyone something that I think is pretty special, especially considering Rays recent death. A few months prior to his death we had corresponded through email. Initially I emailed him to thank him for his books and to tell them how much they meant to me. The emails turned into some really interesting conversations about the Bible and the tendency of people that leave the Watchtower to make some wrong steps. They are so important to me that I'd like to share them here. I have 3 in particular that I'd like to share. While I don't agree with everything Ray says in them, I think his thought process was so sharp and he made some fantastic points. Below is the 1st email from our correspondance:
Peter Gregerson forwarded to me a copy of your letter. I appreciate the
difficulty you face and the struggle it represents.
As of May 8 I am 87 and in the year 2000 I suffered what was diagnosed as
a moderate stroke, no paralysis resulted but it left me tired and with a
reduced energy level. So I am not able to keep up with correspondence as I
would like. Crisis of Conscience is now in 13 languages, which brings in
more mail. My wife¹s health has undergone some serious problems as well,
requiring the giving of time in that direction. Cynthia underwent a heart
catheterization process which revealed six blockages in her heart. The
doctors wanted to do bypass surgery but she opted not to do so. On September
of 2007 I underwent a surgical operation on my left carotid artery (one of
the main arteries supplying blood to the brain). It took an hour and a half
and I was conscious during the operation since only a local anesthesia was
applied. The surgeon made about a 5-inch incision in the neck and then
opened the artery and cleared out the blockage in it. My right carotid
artery became totally blocked causing the stroke in the year 2000 and thus
it was important to keep the left open and free of blockage. I only had to
spend one night in the hospital, for which I was grateful. The popular use
of the term "golden years" certainly does not describe what older age really
brings. Ecclesiastes Chapter 12 gives a realistic picture.
Many who write have expressed recognition that bitterness and anger only
take away credibility from any discussion of the Witnesses. Unfortunately a
large portion of the books and material put out by ³ex-JW² sources on the
subject are almost entirely negative. A man from England recently wrote:
>> I'm currently an "active" Witness from England, and I just wanted to say how
>> absolutely relieved I was to read your books ("Crisis of Conscience" and "In
>> Search Of Christian Freedom"). I must confess, reading them was nothing like
>> I expected. My only contact with ex-jw's has been through browsing the net,
>> and to be honest, a lot of what's written doesn't merit much by way of
>> consideration. A lot of sites are so absolutely blinded by bitterness, that
>> even the truth they do provide is soured and unpalatable.
I can sympathize with the adjustment you and others face. One invests so
much as regards relationships and the seemingly unavoidable loss of many of
these is painful. As you evidently recognize, simply withdrawing from a
system that one has found to be seriously flawed is not a solution in
itself. It is what one does thereafter that determines whether there has
been progress and benefit or not. It is also true that any transition<even
if only one in outlook<can require not only time but also mental and
emotional adjustments. Haste is obviously not advisable as it often only
leads to new problems or to new errors. There is always need to exercise
patience, trusting in God¹s help and direction.<Proverbs 19:2.
It seems, however, that we can often learn as much from the ³unpleasant²
experiences of life as we can from the pleasurable ones<perhaps more that is
of lasting value. While separation from a large organization and former
associates unquestionably produces a degree of loneliness, even that can
have its beneficial aspects. It can bring home to us more than ever before
the need for full reliance on our heavenly Father, that only in Him have we
genuine security and the confidence of his care. It is no longer a case of
flowing along with the stream but of developing a personal inner strength,
gained through faith, of growing up so as to no longer be children but grown
men and women, a growth achieved through our growth in love for God¹s Son
and the way of life he exemplified. (Ephesians 4:13-16) I don¹t view my
past experience as all loss, nor feel that I learned nothing from it. I
find great comfort in the words of Paul at Romans 8:28 (the New World
Translation changes the meaning of this text by inserting the word ³his² in
the expression ³all his works² but this is not the way the original Greek
text reads). According to a number of translations, Paul states:
>>> > We know that by turning everything to their good God cooperates with all
>>> those who love him.<Jerusalem Bible translation.
Not just in ³his works² but in ³all things² or in ³everything² God is able
to turn any circumstance<however painful or, in some cases, even tragic<to
the good of those who love him. At the time we may well find this difficult
to believe but if we turn to him in full faith and allow him to do so, he
can and will cause that to be the result. He can make us the better person
for having had the experience, enrich us in spite of the sorrow we may
undergo. Time will demonstrate this to be so and that hope can give us
courage to continue on, trusting in his love.
You will find that many of what are called ³ex-JW ministries, ² have often
simply exchanged their previous beliefs for what is known as ³orthodoxy.²
Orthodoxy undoubtedly contains its measure of what is sound. But it also
contains elements that are the result of imposition of religious authority,
rather than belief clearly set forth in Scripture. It is difficult, for
example, to find any reputable reference work that does not acknowledge the
post-Biblical origin of the trinity doctrine. I feel that the main problem
with the trinity doctrine is the dogmatism and judgmentalism that
customarily accompanies it. That to me is but another evidence of the
fragility of its foundation. Were it clearly taught in Scripture, there
would be no need for authoritarian imposition of the teaching and heavy
pressure to submit to it.
So many former Witnesses are at a disadvantage when pressured by others to
conform to views these have adopted. Dogmatic assertions from sources that
claim to base their arguments on knowledge of Biblical Greek often awe
former Witnesses<even as they were previously awed by claims of a similar
nature from the Watch Tower organization. So many points could be clarified
if people were simply to read the same text in a variety of translations.
They would then at least see that where translation is concerned, dogmatism
is greater evidence of ignorance than of learning. I find this to be the
case with many who adopt the Trinity doctrine.
Paul stressed that knowledge has merit only when it is expressive of, and
productive of, love, that while knowledge often puffs up, love builds up.
Human language, remarkable though it is, is limited to expressing what
relates to the human sphere. It could never adequately be used to describe
in detail and fullness things of the spirit realm, such as the exact nature
of God, the process whereby He could beget a Son, the relationship resulting
from such begettal, and similar matters. At the very least, it would take
the language of angels, themselves spirit persons, to do this. Yet Paul
says, ³If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have
love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic
powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all
faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.²<1
Corinthians 8:1; 13:1-3.
When I listen to some harp on a particular doctrine which professes to
express in specific terms things which the Scriptures state in general
terms, to set out explicitly things on which the Scriptures are not
explicit, and define what the Scriptures leave undefined, I ask myself how
much love this shows, what loving benefit they think results from this, how
it could possibly be of comparable benefit to discussing something that is
presented straightforwardly and unambiguously in Scripture and the
appreciation of which would have real meaning and benefit in the person¹s
life. I¹m afraid much of what many hear carries echoes of the noisy gong
and clashing cymbal.
It reminds me of a statement found in the book The Myth of Certainty, in
which university professor Daniel Taylor writes:
>> > The primary goal of all institutions and subcultures is self-preservation.
>> > Preserving the faith is central to God¹s plan for human history; preserving
>> > particular religious institutions is not. Do not expect those who run the
>> > institutions to be sensitive to the difference. God needs no particular
>> > person, church, denomination, creed or organization to accomplish his
>> > He will make use of those, in all their diversity, who are ready to be
>> > but will leave to themselves those who labor for their own ends.
>> > Nonetheless, questioning the institutions is synonymous, for many, with
>> > attacking God<something not long to be tolerated. Supposedly they are
>> > protecting God . . . Actually, they are protecting themselves, their view
>> > the world, and their sense of security. The religious institution has given
>> > them meaning, a sense of purpose, and, in some cases, careers. Anyone
>> > perceived as a threat to these things is a threat indeed.
>> > This threat is often met, or suppressed even before it arises, with power.
>> . .
>> > . Institutions express their power most clearly by enunciating,
>> > and enforcing the rules of the subculture.
Having seen the truth of this in the Witness religion and its organization
and creed, we should not nearsightedly fail to realize how equally true it
is in the larger religious field.
As regards association and fellowship, I recognize the dilemma some face.
But I do feel that as time goes on one can find others whose association and
companionship can be healthful and upbuilding, whether among former
Witnesses or others. In one¹s daily course of life one meets a variety of
people and over a period of time may find at least some whose association is
healthful and upbuilding. We get together with others for Bible discussion
and though our group is quite small we find it satisfying. Naturally there
is a certain benefit to similarity of background, but it doesn¹t seem as if
this should be a major goal. I personally have no interest in affiliating
with a denomination. Some have expressed that most denominations have more
in common than the points on which they disagree, which has some truth in
it. Yet they still prefer to remain as separate denominations and
affiliation with any of them does have at least some divisive effect, since
one is expected to uphold and favor the growth and distinctive teachings of
the denomination involved.
In a recent letter from Canada a brother writes:
> I have started witnessing informally to people who have Bible questions or
> when I see it is an appropriate time to witness. I offer a free discussion
> on the Bible, its theme concerning Jesus and the Kingdom, the main divisions
> and how to study it to profit personally. No obligations, no church, no
> religion, just a Bible discussion. I do not associate with any group and do
> not feel the need to really. I also do not give personal opinions wherever
> Scriptures are not clear or are a decision of conscience. However, I do feel
> the need to let folks know that the Bible's way is the only way to live and
> freedom, true freedom, comes through knowing Jesus Christ. On occasion I see
> myself saying things that must be verified for the correct understanding, but
> I at least feel I know the basics to help someone profit from a personal
> study of the Bible. It takes a long time to get out of the woods, and I
> sometimes ask myself if total eradication of WT influence is possible. When
> it has
> been a part of your adult life for so long, you still find yourself thinking
> certain way and then realize it is learned thoughts, not logically thought
> out sometimes. There are some things you want to hold on to of course, but
> their programming gets in the way more often than you would like to believe.
I hope that things may go well for you and wish you God¹s guidance,
comfort and strength as you face up to life's problems. May I ask where you
have your residence?