A large majority of religions and their sects have a “we are the only ones” attitude. That is the belief system that they are the only correct religion in the world and if you reject that religion or refuse to join your automatically damned. Jehovah’s Witnesses also have this creed.
Growing up as a Witness I was taught a very confusing belief system when it came to this. It generally consisted of some teachings, which are as follows:
- God is love
- God is the only one who can judge
- If you are not a JW you will receive a negative judgment
- It’s not judgmental to assume judgment on one who refuses to believe what Witnesses say
- We are not playing Gob or “judging” merely speculating on what we believe will be the outcome
Now I am not saying that every JW is taught this, but in my opinion most are. What always got me is the logic behind numbers two thru five. Growing up I just could never justify this logic. I was often too lazy to really form a real opinion on this issue, instead deciding it was just easier to let it go. As I got older though I started asking more questions and thinking for myself. I would usually get the same response every time. The dialogue went something like this:
Me- “Hey Mom, how is it that God can only judge, yet my friend who is worldly can’t make it through Armageddon unless he becomes a Jehovah’s Witness?”
Mom- “God gives us all rules to follow Jon. Part of those rules is doing what’s right. If your not following what God says the bible says you will be destroyed”.
Me- “Yes, but Jesus also said the ones we think will be destroyed, will be the ones who are saved.”
Mom- “Well Jesus was talking about the other religions who claim to follow him. We will be the ones who shock them for being saved”.
Me- “Oh um..OK.”
This isn’t exactly how the conversation went, but it usually always ended the same way. “We are right they are wrong”. It’s OK for US to judge THEM but not for THEM to judge US. Now this isn’t relegated to only Witnesses, it happens in almost every religion but it’s the logic of it that just completely baffles me.
I almost feel like I don’t need to bring up anything biblical at all. Even my parents had to know this logic was extremely weak. It is something you can only get away with if it is explained to a small child or an apathetic teenager. I recently got in to a discussion a few months ago about this very subject with my Mom. I was explaining that the basis of being Christian is belief that the only salvation to be found is through Jesus. She agreed. I then asked why the Witnesses claim that if you are not a Witness when the end is foretold to come you won’t make it. She then said, “well only God can judge”. I knew this was a cop out. So the conversation went something like this (not word for word, this is just from my recollection):
Me- Mom do you believe Jenny Fakename is a good person?
Mom- Yes she is a good friend
Me- You studied with her right?
Mom- Yes, and she decided it just wasn’t for her.
Me- So she had the “truth” and turned it down?
Mom- Yes she did.
Me- So will she make it through Armegeddon?
Mom- I can’t say
Me- But the whole point of you going door to door is to “save” people. If you can make it with out joining the witnesses what is the point of studying or going door to door.
Me- So will she make it?
Mom- I guess not (very reluctently)
Me- Then it isn’t God who judges, it’s individuals who are Witnesses?
This shows just how easily the logic is dismantled. They want it both ways. On the one hand they claim their organization is a filter for God to do his “sifting” work. It is the only true religion and in order to be a true Christian you must join it. On the other hand God is the only one who does the “sifting”. He can save anyone whom he chooses only he can read hearts. It’s a quagmire of extreme proportion. If even one person refuses to listen to them, yet God saves that person the whole structure of their belief comes crumbling down.
If you get a chance to talk to a Witness and discuss this, watch as their face looks like their brain is ping ponging around. If God does the judging and him alone it makes their “preaching work” all but obsolete. If they do the judging they are clearly going against what they themselves preach. Again I think this works against most religions that claim theirs is the only way.
How do those who believe this line of thinking shake it off? Simple, it turns into a “standards” issue. It’s like when you get fired from a job for an unrelated job issue but your company doesn’t want to get sued. They have to figure out some loophole to let you go. They may say, “you spend too much time on the internet”. It’s just enough of an excuse to let you go. Likewise many Christians say things like, “well Jesus made it clear we have to follow what he says. If you don’t follow that you are damning your self”. Circular logic of course, and unfortunately they cannot read hearts, another hurtle they must get over. They then have to fall back on the “true” religion logic.
When writing this, a scripture came to mind. If only more Christians actually followed this scripture “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (ASV Jude 1:22,23). Notice the wordage used in this scripture, “to those who doubt”. It’s only natural to doubt what we don’t know but we shouldn’t judge those whom do doubt.