So recently, after having a conversation with a Jehovah's Witness, I started wondering about how JWs define the term "apostate." Officially, every elder would tell you that an apostate is one who leaves the Jehovah's Witness faith. But did anyone else notice that this is not how they use the word colloquially—that they're sort of dishonest about it?
During a "debate," for lack of a better word, they would tell you that an apostate isn't someone who actively and verbally disagrees with their doctrine; it's anyone who just leaves the faith and lies about the Governing Body (etc.) in order to turn active Witnesses against Jehovah. While I was conversing with a Jehovah's Witness a few weeks ago, I told him that it's not how Jehovah's Witnesses use the term in informal situations when they want to instill in you the fear of evidence.
When I was an unbaptized publisher (never got baptized; left before that happened), elders would often tell me not to participate in sort of online debates with other religious people and atheists. I always enjoyed intellectual discussions, so that was my "weak spot," from the JW point of view. And they would tell me that what I was doing was wrong. Why was it wrong?
Now, here's the thing; they knew I didn't talk to the ex-JWs. Hell, I've barely even met one in any of my discussions with other religious people and atheists. I simply conversed with people who held other opinions about the Bible and God, yet they still labeled these people as "apostates." They didn't necessarily do it consciously, but they did it nonetheless.
So what did the Witness I was conversing with tell me? He told me that this is not how they define an apostate. He told me that the official definition of an "apostate" is one who leaves the faith and lies about the Governing Body (etc.) in order to turn active Witnesses against Jehovah.
That's their *official* definition—that's true. It's in their publications. But did you notice that that's not how they use the word in informal conversations with others? Especially when you're studying with them, they will first tell you an apostate is an ex-JW who's trying to deconvert you so that you begin to fear the word itself. Then, they would start applying this word to other people as well—maybe even unconsciously.
Have you had this experience as well? Or is it just me? That's what I was wondering about...