Key Scripture: “Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean’.” (Mark 7:15).

The objective of The Life and Death Issues Approach is to show Jehovah’s Witnesses that the Watchtower is not Jehovah’s channel of communication (as it claims to be) as shown by the fact that it has made radical changes in its teachings regarding life and death health issues. 

 Why it matters (p. 265)

Jehovah’s Witnesses will die and will let their children die rather than consent to a life-saving blood transfusion. Why? Because they believe God’s law requires it of them. They know most people strongly oppose this teaching, but they see it as a part of Jehovah’s loyalty and endurance test.

The unexpected approach (pp. 265-266)

Because Jehovah’s Witnesses expect to be persecuted for following “Jehovah’s law” to “abstain from blood,” you will do the opposite. That is, you will go out of your way not to impugn the character of Jehovah’s Witnesses or the sincerity of Watchtower authorities responsible for the blood transfusion ban.

Rather, you will show them evidence that the Watchtower has radically changed its teachings on life and death health issues—vaccinations, organ transplants, and blood fractions. Of course, this raises the questions, “If the Watchtower speaks for Jehovah God, then why the changes? What about Witnesses who died needlessly before the changes were made?”

Justifying the investigation (pp. 266-267)

Coming up with a non-threatening reason for examining the Watchtower’s record on life and death health issues is not difficult. I recommend that you say something like this: “It’s well known that Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to take blood transfusions. If I were to become a Witness, I would have to do that as well. Before I would make a commitment like that, I would want to do research about what your organization has taught about these sorts of life and death health issues to see if it has been consistent and reliable. I hope you won’t see that as a personal attack. I just want to be cautious. I would want to do the same sort of research if you were representatives of any other religion that claims to speak for God regarding such important matters.”

What many Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t know is that not long ago the Watchtower also taught that Bible principles required Witnesses to refuse vaccinations and organ transplants. The organization has since abandoned those teachings. Of course, the Watchtower can’t undo the harm those teachings caused to the Witness families who faithfully followed them because they thought God was demanding it of them.

Although this approach deals with these health care issues, your concern needs to be focused on the Watchtower organization itself, on its claims to speak for Jehovah God and with his authority. That is, the problem is not with the substance of old Watchtower doctrines that the organization has abandoned. The real issue is the fact that the Watchtower taught what it said came from Jehovah and then changed its teachings. Those teachings were just the misguided doctrines of fallible men. Moreover, it took decades before they realized their errors and changed those teachings.

How to present the evidence (p. 267)

Don’t just tell the Witnesses what you’ve discovered. Show it to them right out of Watchtower literature. All but one of the Watchtower documents I refer to in the sections on vaccinations and organ transplants are available for printing at David Reed’s website. This is part of an online version of his book, How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watchtower (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989).

  1. Print only the Watchtower reprints themselves to show the Witnesses. Omit any additional comments, headings, or numbering provided by Reed.
  2. Print out a separate copy for each Witness.
  3. Present the documents one at a time and complete your discussion of each item before going on to the next one. Otherwise, the Witnesses will just thumb through without reading them.
  4. When presenting any item, ask one of the Witnesses to read it out loud before inviting their comments. That is the best way I know to ensure that they will actually examine the Watchtower’s errors and changes.

If they claim that the documents may be forgeries, ask them to research it themselves and report back to you.

Next week, we will look at specific doctrinal changes the Watchtower has made and tell you where you can obtain supporting documentation.

Study Questions

  1. How can we justify our investigating of the Watchtower’s record on life and death health issues in a way that won’t come across as abuse or persecution? (pp. 266-267)
  1. How would you go about obtaining and presenting the evidence to Jehovah’s Witnesses? (p. 267)