A Thought Experiment for Jehovah’s Witnesses


I KNOW THAT JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES listen to my podcasts and read my blog, albeit secretly, so if you’re a Jehovah’s Witness this one is especially for you. I’ll start by asking you a question:

Do you care whether what you’re being taught by the governing body is true or not?

I’m going to ask that you answer either Yes or No.

If the answer is “No” I applaud your honesty even though it raises other questions, but we’ll not go there today. I want to concentrate on those of you who answer, “Yes, it does matter whether what I’m being taught is true or not.” For those of you who answered this way, I have a second question:

Do you believe that everything the governing body teaches you is true?

Again, I would ask for you to answer either Yes or No. If you answer “No”, that you don’t believe everything the governing body teaches you is true, again I applaud your honesty, but I can’t help but think perhaps you’ll not be a Jehovah’s Witness for very much longer. But if you’ve answered “Yes”, that you believe everything the governing body teaches you to be true, then I’m going to withhold my applause for a moment.

You say you believe everything they say is true, and you’ve also said that you really care about whether what they teach, what you believe, and by extension what you teach other people, is the truth, but do you? Do you really care?

Let me ask you another question. This one takes a little more thought to answer:

If you felt that something the governing body was teaching you, something you were expected to believe, even teach other people, was not true, what would you do to show that you cared about truth?

I’ve asked this question to a number of Jehovah’s Witnesses over the years. Their answers usually fall into two camps. Camp 1 says, “I’d wait on Jehovah to reveal the real truth”. Camp 2, perhaps thinking they’re a little more humble than Camp 1, will answer, “Well I’d never question the governing body. If they say it’s true then I believe them. Who am I to question God’s channel of truth?” 

For those who are not prepared to question the governing body, I guess I’ve got nothing more to say to you. You have demonstrated to me that truth doesn’t really matter to you. You’re quite happy to be told what the truth is and go through life not questioning it. Frankly, I think you’re lazy, intellectually and spiritually. But for those of you who do feel the governing body sometimes gets it wrong, that some things turn out to be, dare I say, false, I would ask you to really think about what this means. At the start of this article I asked you if you really cared whether what you were being taught by the governing body was actually true, and you said “Yes”, you did.

So let me return to the other question I asked:

If you were to find out that something the governing body was teaching you was false, how would you show that you cared?

Saying that you would wait on Jehovah, while seemingly humble, doesn’t actually show that you care about truth, not really. What it shows is that you’re prepared to put up with falsehood until such a time as those you rely on for your “truth” get it right by your opinion. Internally you actually think you know better and that you know what the real truth of a matter is, but you’re not prepared to do anything about it. You won’t speak up. You’ll just keep your mouth shut, and that’s really what “wait on Jehovah” amounts to. I suppose I can give you some applause if you say you wouldn’t teach another person something you thought to be false, like the old anointed sister I once heard of who ripped pages out of the Finished Mystery book because she didn’t believe what they said, but my applauding will be half-hearted I’m afraid. When it comes to truth, I think if you say you care about it you really should show that you care by sticking up for truth, by speaking out when you see falsehood, and apparently so does the Watch Tower. Here is a quote they published  about truth and standing up for it in The Watchtower, January 15, 1974, pages 35, 37:

“What results when a lie is let go unchallenged? Does not silence help the lie to pass as truth, to have freer sway to influence many, perhaps to their serious harm?… God’s servants in every period of history have had to… expose falsehood and… warn people of dangers and deception​—not just in a general way, but in a specific way… It would have been far easier to keep silent or say only what people wanted to hear. But faithfulness to God and love of neighbor moved them to speak… Do you believe that lies should not go unchallenged? Then what about falsehoods told about God, misrepresentations of his announced purposes? Surely this is, not less, but more serious than lies of a general kind… Will faithfulness to God cause you to speak out for what is right?… True Christians [must] speak out, not holding back in exposing false teachings… of the world’s religious organizations.”

If after that you’re still in the mood for a thought experiment, imagine you have a time machine. Travel back with me to 1919, the year the governing body was supposedly appointed by Jesus as the “faithful and discreet slave” to provide spiritual “food at the proper time.” Now, imagine 1919 all the way up to now. For over 100 years you’re taught “the truth”, supposedly, by the governing body. Yet over those 100 years, you will see, as you travel through time, that they change their minds on what is true time and time and time again, which means what about the things they are teaching as truth?

  • Was it true that Moses and Abraham were resurrected in 1925?
  • Was it true that those alive in 1914 saw Armageddon in their lifetime?
  • Was it true that 1975 saw the start of the 1000-year reign of Christ?
  • Was it true that the preaching work ended before the year 2000?
  • And why did it take until 2012 for the governing body to realise that the “faithful and discreet slave” was them and not “all anointed Christians on earth at any given time”?

With the benefit of hindsight, you are able to see that what the governing body taught over all those years was not the truth, not always, and that at any point in time, there was really no guarantee that it was the truth, and if you accepted what they were teaching you at any given time—if you believed it was true—in very little time at all you found it was no longer true—and if it wasn’t true, what was it? The governing body, while perhaps teaching some things that are true, has also taught falsehood, over and over and over again. These are the “truths” you accepted and taught to other people.

Now fast forward to 2022 and you can look back over those 100-plus years and see that time and time again the governing body had taught things that were false. Armed with that knowledge what will you do now? Will you stick with Jehovah’s Witnesses hoping that what the governing body is teaching now is true? Seriously, what certainty can you have that that is so? If you really care about truth, whether what you’re being taught now is truth, and what you’re teaching others is truth, what will you do about it? How will you actually show that you care about truth? Is it enough to personally refrain from teaching things that you think are not true? Or does being a Jehovah’s Witness make you complicit in the spreading of falsehoods that have been perpetuated for over 100 years all around the globe to billions of people?

For me, truth really does matter. Realising that I didn’t believe 100% of what I was expected to believe and teach as a Jehovah’s Witness brought me to the conclusion that I could no longer be a Witness. So I ask you, What will you do? Will you remain associated with a religious group that teaches things that time and time again turn out to be false? Or will you stand up for the truth?

Further reading