Transcript of OnionUnlimited podcast episode 059
HELLO AND WELCOME TO ONIONUNLIMITED—THE PODCAST. I’m your host, Daniel Torridon. Should you worry about Armageddon, death, and not getting a resurrection? That’s quite possibly the longest title to a podcast ever but the answer to the question is short and sweet and it is—No!—and here is why. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we used to think about death in one of three ways. Either:
- we would die before Armageddon and be resurrected;
- we would die at Armageddon and not be resurrected;
- or we would never die at all and survive Armageddon
Since the mid-1990’s the idea was that dying with a hope of a resurrection was determined by when you died. If you died before the outbreak of the “great tribulation” you were probably good—you’d get a resurrection. Even if you weren’t a Jehovah’s Witness—even if you were “unrighteous”, possibly even if you were inactive, maybe if you were even a disfellowshipped Witness—you would get a resurrection, and this brought comfort to the grieving family and friends. Obviously, there were exceptions. Those who God determined had “sinned against the holy spirit” would not be resurrected, but by far the vast majority who died before Armageddon were considered to be in “Hades” or “Sheol”—the common grave of mankind—not “Gehenna”, and so would be resurrected.
From 1995 onwards especially, the idea was hammered home that whether you were a “sheep” or a “goat” deserving of life or death was not yet sealed. It was a future judgement that would occur during the great tribulation prior to Armageddon. Of course, if you were judged as a goat and died at Armageddon you wouldn’t be resurrected, the same as those who died in the flood of Noah’s day. So your best chance for the future was to either become a Jehovah’s Witness or die before Armageddon and await a resurrection. Simple.
Except now, in 2022, the governing body seems to have shifted up a gear in the fear-mongering department. Recently they made it clear in the Watchtower that those who refuse to respond to the preaching work now and die before Armageddon will not be resurrected. To coin their phrase, these ones will have “had their chance”. Nice. The preaching work is supposedly the litmus test against which a person’s worthiness for everlasting life is judged, which seems a bit unfair, I think, seeing as for the past two years they’ve just been writing anonymous letters to people which I don’t really class as effective witnessing at all.
This new idea—if indeed it is new—that people are being judged now is, I think, somewhat of a return to their stance published in the book I grew up on—the 1958 publication From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained. Since 1923, I believe, the idea had been that the judging of the sheep and goats was taking place since 1914—during “the last days”—and that anyone who rejected the message of Jehovah’s Witnesses would not be resurrected if they died before Armageddon.
Even now, it’s not 100% clear what Jehovah’s Witnesses actually believe on this. Despite what the various Watchtowers say, different Witnesses tend to think different things. There will always be those that think if you reject their message and die before Armageddon you will have proved yourself to be a goat. Others still hang onto the idea that you’re not a goat until your fate is locked in during the great tribulation, so if you die before then you will—or at least you might—get a resurrection.
It’s a will-they-won’t-they? situation and that’s just how the organisation likes things. It always has done. This constant flip-flopping between “new light” and “old light”. They like to keep their members guessing. Every few years they change their teachings, often reverting to a previous interpretation of scripture. It keeps people on their toes. One example is whether the people of Sodom and Gomorrah will receive a resurrection. The answer to that question has oscillated between “yes”, “no”, and “maybe” for years.
As for me, I think the latest teaching is that anyone who lived prior to Jehovah’s Witnesses preaching the good news of the kingdom—these ones will get a resurrection. That’s what I think the Watchtower is saying. When did the preaching of the good news of the kingdom begin? During Jesus’ “presence” apparently—Matthew 24:14. So anyone who died before 1914 is a good candidate for a resurrection, but those who don’t respond to the good news during these last days have, as the latest Watchtower says, “had their chance”. I think that’s what the Watchtower is trying to get across to its members.
So what about disfellowshipped ones? I would say the Watchtower’s position on this is still that it depends on their heart condition. If they were repentant and making their way back, attending meetings etc., and they died, then I think Watch Tower would concede that maybe Jesus will deem them worthy of a resurrection, but for ones like me—vocal apostates who have absolutely no intention of being a Jehovah’s Witness again, who view Watch Tower as a dangerous cult and would like to see it collapse—well, we are destined to die at Armageddon because we’ve sinned against the holy spirit apparently, and if we die before Armageddon—no resurrection either I’m afraid.
Now all this might be something to worry about except it’s not because it’s all a load of twaddle as I like to say. There is no Armageddon to die at, or before, and even if there was death isn’t what Jehovah’s Witnesses make it out to be anyway. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that when you’re dead you’re dead. Okay, so they don’t teach that if you’re bad you go to a fiery hell forever. That’s a plus I guess, but they do teach that if you die at Armageddon, and now if you die before Armageddon without responding to their silly little message then you are dead forever. Dead dead. Never coming back dead. They use the Bible to make their point and some of the verses they use seem legit, but here’s the thing—it’s all wrong. Their interpretation of scripture, perhaps even scripture itself, is fundamentally flawed. It does not reflect in the slightest what actually happens when you die.
Yes, you will die. We all die. Whether we are good or bad, whether we are Jehovah’s Witnesses or not, whether Armageddon comes in our lifetime or not (it won’t because it’s not a thing), but we will die. At risk of sounding like the Devil himself, it’s also true that you will not die. It depends what we mean by “you”. You see, death is just the shedding of our physical body. You, the you within, the real you is not just your body. Your body is merely a shell. You are spirit. You are soul, immortal—yes, exactly what we were taught not to believe as Jehovah’s Witnesses! You are Mind. You are eternal and that is your true nature. So death is merely a release of your true self back to your natural form. You don’t die.
Now, religions have lost sight of this simple truth—that when you die, you simply return to your spirit nature, the form you came from, the form you were before you chose to incarnate as a human. Religions have complicated the whole death thing by teaching that the good go to heaven and the bad to hell or that you somehow get trapped in a never-ending cycle of reincarnation against your wishes in order for you to learn your lesson, or in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses that if you don’t join their cult before Armageddon you will die and stay dead. Forever. This is nothing more than fear-mongering to get people to join their cult or to return to their cult and then to stay in their cult.
True, the Bible doesn’t teach an inherently immortal soul. It does teach that when you die you die—that souls die, that souls are a combination of a body, mind, and life-sustaining “spirit” or life-force, but that isn’t the truth. Ironically, Christianity adopted the idea of an immortal soul from the Greeks—actually the idea existed way before in Egypt and Babylon—and in doing so they deviated from the Bible’s teaching of “when you’re dead your’e dead”, but in doing so they actually hit on the truth—that you are eternal. They just messed it up with complicated concepts of heaven and hell and purgatory.
The truth, the simple truth, is that you, the real you, does not die. Whether you are “good” or “bad”, “righteous” or “unrighteous”, or somewhere in between—which let’s face it is probably most of us—we return to our natural spirit form when our physical body and brain dies. And once we return to spirit, on a spiritual plane that will seem like “home”, we get to choose what happens next. You don’t get forced to come back as a cockroach if you’ve been bad. You get to choose. The life you have now is the life you chose before incarnating, and when we die—or rather when our human body dies—we can choose to experience another human life. Or we can stay as a Spirit, teaching other Spirits the wisdom we learned in our human life, or even trying to communicate with humans if only they will listen.
So should you worry about Armageddon and death and whether you will get a resurrection? Absolutely not!
That’s all for this time. Thanks for joining me. Bye for now.