WHY I LEFT THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
By Jean Eason
I was a third generation Jehovah’s Witness (JW). When I recall the days of my youth it seems that what I heard most often was, how wrong the “religionist” were in comparison to the JWs who were right about everything. As a JW, I was concerned with works – not only doing such things as preaching from house to house, but with the things I must not do such as celebrating the holidays and birthdays. Every word written by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WBTS) was considered “truth” that must be followed to the letter, whether it was rejecting a blood transfusion, refraining from voting, or refusing to serve in the military. To do otherwise was considered sinning against Jehovah, resulting in the possibility of losing the hope of eternal life.
I was married and had three children before I began having serious doubts about the WBTS being God’s only channel of communication. These doubts began to immerge when I had to make some very important decisions that simply went against the grain of my personality. I have in mind like signing papers to let a baby die rather than take blood. You see, I had an RH factor blood condition and in those days they transfused the baby at birth should a problem occur. Fortunately, I was spared – but I was ready and willing to let my children die! Why? Because I was convinced that the WBTS had the “truth” and should I do differently, I would lose the hope of eternal life and so would my child, should death occur. I developed further doubts when the WBTS got “new light” (additions or changes to what had been previously taught).
On one occasion, the “new light” revealed, that if you see JWs sinning and do not report the person, then you are guilty of that sin yourself. Shortly after this new light came, a sister in our congregation took blood when she hemorrhaged at childbirth. My options were either to report her or have the sin fall on me. Both options bothered me! But you see, when you have no personal relationship with Jesus, you follow people blindly, trusting them to be in God’s will. Like a good JW, I reported her and she had to appear before a disciplinary of elders.
This, along with other “new light” caused me to start thinking about where and how the WT authors get their new light! I inherited a WBTS library from one of my relatives, and began reading the older publications. I learned they had changed their interpretation of Scripture many times. I took note that the modern literature quoted often from the older publications. Now I was able to pick up the very book they quoted from – and guess what? I discovered they often misquoted their own writings, or else took them out of context – and misapplied them. After two years of research I realized I was following a supposedly infallible organization that was based upon the constantly changing opinions of men.
I thought it interesting that I had never read in current literature that they had once taught that Jesus was enthroned in 1874 and the earthly phase of the kingdom was to begin 1914. This was taught during the time my grandfather was a witness but he had never mentioned it. Let me share from my book, “A Jehovah’s Witness Finds the Truth” which can be read on line: tutorsforchrist.org:
My Mom’s father was a Methodist Sunday-School Superintendent in the 1890’s when he heard that his cousin had lost his mind. It seemed this cousin was talking about some very strange thing – the end of the world was coming in 1914! Grandpa rode his horse over for a visit and found him sane, but somewhat confused. He was reading literature written by Charles T. Russell, the first president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. (Russell believed that God had revealed an accurate understanding of the Bible to him).
Until this time, Grandpa had been a typical Methodist Christian, with a wife and seven children. He was a very loving, kind gentleman with no bad habits and was a respected farmer in the community. Like most Christians, he believed the salvation plan of the Bible was the acceptance of Jesus Christ. Grandpa was fascinated with Russell’s book. They seemed to teach so much about the Bible. Russell’s books were interpreting the Bible in such a way that really excited Grandpa. These beliefs were new to him! They taught that Christ was enthroned in heaven invisibly, in 1874, (the second coming of Christ) and the Gentile times would end in 1914, at which time the earthly kingdom would begin under the rule of two heavenly classes residing with God and Christ. The central doctrine was that the ransom sacrifice of Jesus covered all mankind from Adam until the present time. Grandpa was pleased with the idea that everyone living on the earth (including all those resurrected) would live in a world of righteousness, not being judged until the end of the millennium. To grandpa, this was true justice! Grandpa accepted this teaching as well as the work ethics that went along with it (The Divine Plan of the Ages, 1886,, appendix A).
Grandpa accepted Russell’s teachings to be the absolute “truth” of God’s word, and was baptized around 1900. After resigning as Sunday School Superintendent, he left his church to become what he thought was a foot-step follower of Jesus Christ, to proclaim these “truths” to everyone by selling Russell’s books for a contribution of the cost of printing. He felt a great urgency to reach as many as possible before the setting up of God’s kingdom on earth, in 1914. All those accepting these teachings would live forever in heaven. Grandpa and his cousin built a tabernacle and preached to large crowds. He held meetings in his little country home regularly. He allowed his children to continue attending church, but told them not to join since the preachers didn’t have the “truth.” Although Russell did not believe the churches had the truth, he didn’t seem to hate them as did the succeeding president of the Watchtower Society, J.F. Rutherford, who took control after Russell’s death.
In regard to how Russell felt toward other churches, he said:
“It should not be considered a sinful thing for us to visit some of the nominal churches. I could go into nearly any Methodist or Presbyterian congregation and feel sure I could have a good time with them. If they love God, if they revere the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if they are seeking to walk with honesty, and soberly, and decently, let us be glad to give them recognition to that extent. These matters are for each one’s own conscience and if anybody thinks differently, God bless him. Let him follow his own conscience.” (“What Pastor Russell Said,” page 479)
After 1914 came and they were not taken to heaven as expected, no doubt Russell’s followers were sadly disappointed. After Russell died in 1916, there were several splits in the organization. While one group continued publishing Russell’s books, J.F. Rutherford became president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, writing his own books. Those who continued to identify with Russell’s publications were classified by Rutherford as “the evil slave class.” In Rutherford’s book, Vindication, 1931, he had this to say: “The evil servant class claim to be the anointed of God and, these being false, they are therefore false Christs.” Rutherford’s group came to be known as Jehovah’s Witnesses, in 1931. Until then, they were known as International Bible Students.
Grandpa continued his studies in Watchtower literature. He persisted in distributing these publications in his community. These books were pointing to 1925, as end of civilization, and when this time passed other changes began to take place. The first radical change from Grandpa’s views was that of the restitution. This was the doctrine that interested Grandpa in the first place. That every person would be resurrected and judged in a righteous world on earth, under the rulership of the heavenly class. Now he must accept the “new light” that not everyone would be resurrected. (These changes and similar ones will be discussed in greater detail later in this book). He wrestled with the many important changes and even reversals in doctrine. Since he had totally embraced Watchtower teaching, that only they had the “truth” – where could he go?
I have childhood memories, of sitting on the front porch with Grandpa and Mom. Their conversation was always interesting. Grandpa truly believed that the prophets of the Old Testament would return just any day. He always quoted the Bible, in an attempt to prove this teaching. For many years the Witnesses looked forward to the resurrection of the ancient prophets before Armageddon, and that event was always promised to occur, “any day now.” The Society even built a house and deeded it to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. When people scoffed at them they called it persecution and accepted it gladly, even encouraging it as evidence that they were true followers of Christ
Experiencing the Holy Spirit
I stopped attending all JW meetings, and activities, and I entered into a state of spiritual loneness. Where could I go? I had been taught that all other religions were false. Where could I find real truth?
After a great deal of searching, I decided to try out a Christian Church. My husband and I attended for awhile, but we did not come to know the true person of Christ. I remained convinced that churches were of the devil. After all, I reasoned to myself, churches believe in the concepts of the Trinity, hell fire, and the soul leaving the body at death. I didn’t believe any of those doctrines.
While I was trying desperately to sort out all these doctrines, the WBTS got “new light.” They issued a new edit that said if any JW attended a Christian church, they would be disfellowshipped. Not knowing whether I was following Satan or Jesus, I submitted to the elders, when I was called to a disciplinary meeting. I agreed to stop attending church. I was just not yet ready to be disfellowshipped for something I was not yet sure of.
Fifteen years later, my Catholic sister-in-law shared that she was “born again.” I’d never heard of a born-again Catholic! But I knew something had happened to her because I saw change in her life. She began giving up bad habits such as smoking. She was aglow with something – I didn’t know what. She challenged me to attend one of the meetings. I went out of curiosity. The speaker shared the love of Jesus in such a way that I’d never heard before. It was obvious his focus was on the personage of Jesus Christ. Oh, how I needed that message! When he finished, he asked that we stand, join hands, and sing the Lord’s Prayer.
When we did so, something very unexpected happened. Suddenly, I felt God’s liquid love pour over me from the top of my head to the tip of my toes! Without knowing what had happened, I instantly realized I had been searching for the “truth” in all the wrong places.
In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me.” Yes, Jesus is the Truth, and “He was there all the Time!” No wonder a song was written by that title. The song, “He Touched Me,” came to mind. Now, I understood that, also. I felt such a joy in my heart. I just wanted to rejoice, but I restrained myself, thinking people would notice a strange look on my face.
When we left, my friend said, “How did you like it?” I just started laughing. I couldn’t restrain the joy any longer!
She said, “Something happened to you, didn’t it?” I replied, “Yes, I can’t explain it, but I feel as though I’ve been cleansed from head to toe!” I realize now that I was touched by the power of the Holy Spirit. God knew I could never find the “truth” by searching through definitions of words. I had my Watchtower blinders on. I couldn’t believe the simple gospel – I had to experience it!
Now, I understood why Paul had to be knocked from his horse to become a believer – some of us are just like that! I thought for sure my new-found joy would be gone the next morning, but it wasn’t! I woke up anxious to read the Bible and pray! As I read through the book of John, I wondered when the word, Jesus, was added to so many pages.
I had never before noticed how the Scriptures focused on Him.
Making a Dangerous Promise
I got on my knees, and in the privacy of my living room, I asked Jesus to come into my life. I promised I would do anything He asked of me. Well, don’t pray that prayer if you’re not willing to be obedient. I had no idea what He had in store for me.
My husband liked the change in me, so he was willing to visit prayer meetings and, finally, even church. We were subsequently visited by two JW elders who told us we were going to be disfellowshipped. Think of that – disfellowshipped after fifteen years of non-attendance! We were okay as non-attenders, until we started attending a Christian church!
My husband decided to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The next year was spent in deprogramming ourselves. We had to learn everything over! Meanwhile, we were completely ostracized by family and friends.
Then the Lord put it in my heart to write a book about my spiritual pilgrimage. After it was published, I was invited to appear on national television along with three other former JWs. Soon, all of us began receiving a ton of mail! I had not expected to go into ministry any more than I had expected to write a book – but here I was, living out the promise: “I’ll do anything!” Before I knew it, I was sharing my research and my newly learned orthodox views with hundreds of JWs and Christians who needed to help loved ones in the JWs. I became a Christian discipler over night, and discovered that my JW discipling skills came in handy!
I feel so very privileged to be called of the Lord to share Jesus with JWs who have been deceived into believing in a false Jesus whom they identify as the archangel Michael.
My husband and I continue ministering to those ensnared in the cults. We also feel a call to educate Christians about the dangers of the cults. Additionally, Christians need in-depth instructions as to why they believe what they believe. Keep in mind that Christians convert unbelievers whereas the cults convert Christians.
At the age of 83 I felt the Lord prompting me to write “Bird’s-Eye View of the Bible.” He gave me the help I needed to complete a simple book explaining the elementary doctrines of the Bible. Dr. Dave Reagan (lamlion.com) invited me and the co-author to be on national TV. I had not planned this anymore than I had planned all of the other actives I’ve been engaged in but the Lord has blessed me and my family in a mighty way! Our children and six grandchildren are all Christians. As I write this, I am 88 years old and my husband and I will celebrate our 68th anniversary in August. Our ministry recently recorded 60 radio programs and I’m still invited to speak occasionally. I have never asked to speak but have been invited to speak in over 50 churches as well as conferences, seminaries and colleges.
We are very happy in a spiritually strong church, Hill ‘N Dale Christian Church, Lexington, KY. I encourage all Education Ministers to teach their members the concept of the Trinity and include a teaching on the cults so the congregation can defend their faith against the false gospel. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Jean Eason is active in Christian ministries and her experiences can be found in various sites and videos on the Internet. She has also published books that may be of interest to readers of this site.
(information from Amazon)
Two of the reviews (from Amazon) are reproduced below:
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “Excellent, accurate, and forthright!”, July 10, 2000
This review is from: Jehovah’s Witness Finds the Truth (Paperback)
Having known this author personally, and having had many conversations with her on this subject, I can recommend this book without reservation. For the serious JW seeking truth from the Bible, this work will provide pertinent answers which stand up to scriptural authority. Ms. Eason presents candid factual support, and rock-solid theology forms the foundation of one of the finest works on this subject.
5.0 out of 5 stars AN INTERESTING “EX-WITNESS” TESTIMONY, October 5, 2011
This review is from: Jehovah’s Witness Finds the Truth (Paperback)
Jean Eason wrote on the back cover of this 1983 book (revised edition 1999), “As a third generation Jehovah’s Witness, I was convinced that I was in ‘the Truth.’ Had I not inherited a Watchtower library, perhaps I would never have studied my way out. When current literature quoted from the older publications, they said Bible prophecy was being fulfilled. I was anxious to relive history by reading the originals. This is when I learned they misrepresented their own quotes and changed biblical interpretation whenever it suited them.”She added in the Author’s Preface to the 1999 edition, “At the time of this third printing I still have one sister, and her family who have not spoken to me since I was disfellowshipped, in 1981. We were good friends until then… Now that I know that Jesus Christ, the REAL truth (Jo. 14:6) is the only mediator. I encourage everyone to seek Him for salvation—not an organization.”
Here are some additional quotations from the book:
“At this time (1935), the Society didn’t believe in putting money into buildings for meetings. But as was often the case, out of necessity, they received ‘new light’ when they outgrew their homes… Building Kingdom Halls became new light of the fifties.” (Pg. 6, 8)