In an article entitled “Is the Bible Just a Good Book?” in the 2016 No. 2 issue of Awake!, the Watchtower organization extols the history of the Bible.
The irony comes in what the article doesn’t say. Here are some of the points the article makes, along with my commentary.
1. The Bible has survived many attacks.
The article notes, “…during the Middle Ages in certain ‘Christian’ lands, ‘the possession and reading of the Bible in the vernacular [the language of the common people] was increasingly associated with heresy and dissent,’ says the book An Introduction to the Medieval Bible…”
Of course, the reason the possession and reading of the Bible in the language of the common people was associated with heresy and dissent is that Bible readers were able to see the differences between the teachings of the medieval church and the teachings of the Bible itself.
The Watchtower criticizes Jehovah’s Witnesses who study the Bible alone—that is, without reading Watchtower publications which “explain” the Bible to them. Why? Because it leads to heresy and dissent!
They try to sow doubts and to separate unsuspecting ones from the bounteous “table” of spiritual food spread at the Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses, where truly there is ‘nothing lacking.’ (Ps. 23:1-6) They say that it is sufficient to read the Bible exclusively, either alone or in small groups at home. But, strangely, through such ‘Bible reading,’ they have reverted right back to the apostate doctrines that commentaries by Christendom’s clergy were teaching 100 years ago, and some have even returned to celebrating Christendom’s festivals again, such as the Roman Saturnalia of December 25! Jesus and his apostles warned against such lawless ones. (The Watchtower, “Serving Shoulder to Shoulder with Jehovah’s People,” 8/15/81, pp. 28-29)
If you are at a stage in your relationship with some Jehovah’s Witnesses where they are comfortable with you showing them quotations from old Watchtower publications, you can download a copy of that article at a website run by former Jehovah’s Witness Randall Watters: www.freeminds.org/ts4/wt81581.gif.
Don’t ask them to look at that website. They would consider Watters to be an apostate. Instead, just show them a copy of the article itself and ask them to explain why Bible reading leads Jehovah’s Witnesses to “sow doubts” and revert to believing “apostate doctrines” of Christendom. If they doubt that the copy is genuine, ask them to search through Watchtower literature through their own resources and bring you a copy of those pages.
If you aren’t at that stage in your relationship with the Jehovah’s Witnesses to whom you are trying to get through and believe it would be counterproductive, you can use a less confrontational approach by asking them to explain why we should all read the Bible. After they have given you their reasons, ask them to lead you through a study of the books of Galatians or Romans. If they insist on using Watchtower publications instead, ask them why they consider studying that literature to be superior to studying the Bible itself.
2. The Bible is “the most widely distributed book of all time.”
The article states, “In whole or in part, an estimated five billion copies have been printed in more than 2,800 languages. This is in sharp contrast with books on philosophy, science, and related fields, which may have a limited circulation and may quickly go out-of-date.”
What the article doesn’t state is that through the first 18 centuries of the Christen era, the Bible was published and distributed by persons and groups whom the Watchtower now condemns as the “false Christianity” of Christendom.
You can get this point across by asking the Witnesses to explain who translated, published, and distributed Bibles before the Watchtower organization came into existence in the 19th century.
3. The Bible is the most influential book in history.
The article states: “The Bible has helped to preserve and shape some of the languages into which it has been translated. The German translation by Martin Luther had a big influence on that language. The first edition of the King James Version has been described as ‘probably the single most influential book ever published’ in English.”
What the article doesn’t say is that Martin Luther was a Trinitarian who believed and taught the deity of Christ and the existence of hell as a place of conscious, everlasting torment for the unrepentant.
The Watchtower condemns these doctrines as “God dishonoring” and pagan.
4. The Bible has had a major impact on Western culture.
The article states: “The Bible has ‘profoundly affected Western culture, influencing not just religious belief and practice, but also art, literature, law, politics, and other fields too numerous to mention.’—The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible.”
What the article doesn’t state is that the Watchtower considers Western culture—especially law and politics—to be thoroughly corrupt and in rebellion against God. It tells Jehovah’s Witnesses that their salvation depends on their remaining separate from this world.
The best way to show them this contradiction is simply to ask them to explain in more detail what this paragraph of the Watchtower article is talking about. When we examine the history of the Bible’s impact from the first century to today, specifically what positive influence has the Bible had on religious beliefs and practices in Western culture? What positive impact has the Bible had on politics? On law? On art? On literature? Ask them to give you specific examples in each of these areas.
Have you had Jehovah’s Witnesses quote Watchtower statements about the Bible’s positive impact on society, even though at the same time it condemns the teachings and activities of “Christendom” and the world? Do you think it would be helpful to point these things out to them and ask them to explain the contradictions?
Share your thoughts in the comments.