A few days ago I started this thread about my writing.
Here is the first section of the essay I'm putting together for my writers circle. More will be posted shortly.
Quotes from Watchtower literature are available from this website:
In the spring of 1972 years of wild college life at Washington State University in Pullman caught up with me. I had been majoring in sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Studying took a back seat to partying and left-wing politics, as I did just enough to maintain my student draft deferment. At that time, I had something of a nervous breakdown characterized by anxiety attacks, insomnia, and vague irrational fears. I had always been interested in spiritual matters and I made a conscious decision to turn to God, particularly Christianity.
At the time, “Jesus Freaks” were a common sight on campus and I thought that a belief with that many adherents must have something to it. I read the Bible, but did not comprehend much of what I read. In May of that year a casual conversation with a friend. Chuck's mother and sister were Witnesses, and he was following their example (and incidentally defying a de facto ban on higher education). This led to a Bible study with the Jehovah’s Witnesses the following year. That was my senior year. As graduation approached, I felt lost, friends were leaving and I wasn’t sure what life beyond school would look like.
I applied to graduate school and was accepted. My parents had the money set aside, and it would have been a sure thing.
However, by that time I was deep into my study with the Witnesses, who assured me that the world was ending in a couple of years. More on this later.
I came to accept the Witnesses understanding of the Bible and became more and more involved in Witness related activities. Accordingly, I did not go to grad school, but instead took a job with a fellow JW. I was baptized in November 1973.
At about the same time I met Debbie, also JW. Her grandparents and an aunt, who lived in Pullman were witnesses. She was very close to them, and following there lead started studying with the witnesses herself.
We were married in October 1974 at the Kingdom Hall, and settled into daily life as JW’s in Pullman.
The Watchtower has a long standing habit of changing doctrines and hiding or minimizing some internal policies. The following is a summary of doctrine and policy at the time I was baptized. If my description of life as a Witness leaves you wondering why anybody would join such a religion, it is because many of these things are not at all obvious to a new recruit. By the time I understood all of it, I was too far into the belief system to see its true nature.
Official History and Doctrine
The Watchtower Society was founded by Charles Taze Russell in the 1870’s. He was tired of all of the churches, and with a few like-minded people set about to study the Bible free of all prior assumptions and reach their own conclusions about what the Bible taught.
Those conclusions were:
That the Trinity is a false doctrine, God and Jesus are separate entities.
Jesus is a created being, subordinate to God, who’s personal name is Jehovah.
The holy spirit is a force (as I write this, Microsoft Word reminds me to capitalize it; Witnesses never do so), it has no personality.
The Genesis account is literal, although each of the creative days was seven thousand years long. Adam and Eve were created about six thousand years ago, sinned, and condemned the human race.
Jehovah sacrificed Jesus, is only son, to erase the stain of original sin from humanity.
Jehovah intended for man to live forever in a paradise on Earth, and His divine plan calls for destroying the wicked and restoring paradise at the Battle of Armageddon.
Bible chronology shows about when that event can be expected.
The chronology of the “last days” is determined as follows.
- Jesus’ disciples asked him when the end would occur. In response he told them that Jerusalem would be trampled by the gentiles until the end. (Luke 21:24)
- These times would begin with the destruction of the temple in 607 BC.
- A dream given to Nebuchadnezzar shows the length of that period to be “seven times” or seven prophetic years. (Daniel chapter 4)
- A prophetic year is 360 days long. (Revelation chapter 11)
- In prophecy, a day equals a year. The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years, one year for each day the spies spent in the promised land. (Numbers 14:34)
- So, the times of the Gentiles lasted 2,520 years (7x360) from 607 BC to 1914 AD. The last days therefore began in 1914 and Jesus said that everything would come to pass in one generation (Matt 24:34)
As a further refinement, the Watchtower was teaching that the end would arrive in 1975, discussed below.