The Jehovah’s Witness organisation, also know as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, has become known as a very secluded and insular organisation. It is one of the more controversial denominations of the Christian religion. From my earliest days in Uitenhage I have been aware of their existence. And for the most part they came across as a group of people who were sincerely spreading their information brochures to clarify their teachings. Its only in the last few years that it has come closer to home because a cousin of mine converted to this religion and married into a Jehovah’s Witness family.
What I admire most about him till today is that not once has he tried to convert me, or has he insisted on me attending any services. I have been with him once or twice to the Kingdom Hall and noted some differences in how the religious ceremonies take place compared to my own experiences in the Dutch Reformed Church and some other Evangelical churches. At the same time my own mother became a reborn Christian in about 1988 when my sister was born, and when I entered high school. She is a staunch advocate against the Witness organisation and all other belief systems like Islam, Hinduism, etc. This stance is something that is difficult for me to reconcile. I have always preferred to find the things we have in common with those from different cultures or belief systems because after all we are all human beings, and we are all created in the image of God.
What Robin Jackson’s book has allowed me to do is become much more intimately acquainted with the discrepancies of the Jehovah’s Witness organisation. The doctrine that is taught by local Kingdom Hall’s and and also the changes in the historical policies that have come from the head office in Bethel, New York.
The most well known controversy that keeps coming up is the issue around blood transfusion. Robin does a splendid job of explaining how the organisation views organ donation, blood transfusion, racism, voting and child sexual abuse. The two witness rule must be one of the most ridiculous policies I have encountered to date, and is directly responsible for numerous sexual abuse perpetrators never being convicted or even when convicted bring treated as if they are innocent by the Jehovah’s Witness community. The organisation has a policy that does not encourage or discourage the reporting of these abuses. And I’m starting to cringe of the similarities between these incidents and those emanating from the Catholic church.
Perhaps the most important lessons from “Losing My Faith” is in the uncovering of the various inconsistencies that has been promulgated over the last hundred years. The end of the world or Armageddon being predicted in the years 1874, 1878, 1910, 1914, 1918 and 1925. The successor to Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the organisation, Joseph Rutherford, continued it’s false predictions and most notably he delivered a discourse entitled – Millions now living will never die – in 1918. This was published in a booklet in 1920. Rutherford himself died in 1942.
There are many more instances from Robin Jackson’s book that reinforce the idea that you should question everything you are told. In fact I like the subtitle to the book, “Truth under Scrutiny” because it is clear that truth as it is commonly referred to is a subjective matter. However, the evidence for truth can never be subjective because the facts can be proven by the deduction or logic. It is clear that this book has allowed Robin Jackson to begin a journey to freedom from repression and religious intolerance. Perhaps I am biased, because I know the author’s family, and those personal stories earlier on the book was some of the most heartfelt writing I have come across in a long time.
This book is highly recommended for those who are confused about what they have been taught as the absolute truth from their church, and not just those who are curious about the Jehovah’s Witnesses. There’s a quote I heard once which goes like this, “Hang out with those who are searching for truth. And run from those who claim to have found it.”