Why Do I Do What I do?
by Randall Watters
also: The Taste of Bitter Fruit (Why attack the Watchtower?)
A Response to a current Jehovah's Witness
Original email sent by a Witness from the United Kingdom:
The new info you sent re UN involvement of WT was very interesting.
However, was the purpose of registration as a NGO really a sinister connivance with the UN on the part of the WT or just a way perhaps obtaining useful info from them for the publications.
As I understand it, you spent many years in Bethel, and I'm sure have left many friends behind. Don't dedicate the rest of your life criticizing what they are doing in all sincerity. I'm sure you feel very bitter about a range of issues. But negative feelings and destructive behavior cannot help.
I don't agree with everything the WT society does and wish it was more open minded on a range of issues. I have an open mind and refuse to be told what I can and cannot read etc. The internet is opening many doors that the ultra conservative members of the governing body (who I guess won't be with us much longer anyway....average age 97!) would not like to have opened. (eg UN issue you have recently highlighted) However. I think your web site and publications would receive a lot more respect if they were more balanced and positive. Tearing down all the time is wearisome reading! You never mention the millions who thoroughly enjoy the lifestyle and education received through the WT organization.
Anyway, I thought you might have appreciated the feedback and hope you are finding spiritual satisfaction in your new church (what is that by the way?).
(name withheld from U.K.)
Randy Watters' response:
Thank you for taking the time and the humility to write, friend!
Actually your timing is right on, as I have been looking for helpful and constructive criticism.
I have gone through many passages after leaving the Watchtower.
The first began at Bethel in our private Bible studies after the Monday night Watchtower Study for the Bethel family. I was using The Living Bible for a breath of fresh air, having read the New World Translation through several times. The poring over Romans and Galatians, and the subsequent discovery of the meaning of salvation by grace ("undeserved kindness" according to Witnesses) was by far the most incredible and world-shaking event of my life.
At that moment I knew that the Watchtower had taught us to be Judaizers; those who believe they somehow contribute to their salvation. It was an incredible feeling to read Paul's letters to the early Christians as if it was written DIRECTLY TO ME. The indescribable joy of understanding what I call the PRIMARY DOCTRINE of the New Testament (salvation by grace).
"Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness." (Romans 4:4,5 NAS)
Sure I knew the Watchtower's explanations of all their interpretations of texts. But I was suddenly being enlightened to see the whole New Testament differently, so I used another Bible and pretended I was just an ordinary person reading this for the first time. The road of discovery had just begun. I could not get enough of grace! It was emotionally exciting, and I felt a wonderful peace that strengthened me to survive the intense anger of the Governing Body towards this unfamiliar "apostasy" that was forming. This "apostasy" was no more than a new and clear understanding of the issue of God's grace, and how we are set free from oppression by men and/or organizations. Parts of "Christendom" have known it for centuries, embarassingly enough. A few months later, I decided to leave Bethel while on vacation in Calif. I requested a special leave from Governing Body member Dan Sydlik, and had my Bethel roommate ship my things back home. I wanted to share my faith with my family: my mom and sister and brother-in-law were Witnesses.
At this point, few at Bethel knew of my personal changes. I had been a strict organization man, and none had suspected me. I performed all of my duties well as a Bethel Elder and a floor overseer in the pressroom. Only my roommate and a handful of others, many of whom had already left for the same reasons (the rantings of the Governing Body) knew how I felt. So coming back to Calif. was not a "showdown" with the Witnesses. I had no bitter pills along the way, and no one person had ever done me wrong as a Witness. I have no reason to be bitter against anyone, but I DO have strong principles. One is to respect others as equal human beings, and to work within that realm of respect when matters are disputed. Most of all, TELL THE TRUTH. I had no negative feelings about other Witnesses, just a very bad impression of the true cowardly nature of those on the Governing Body. I lost all respect for them forever, in much the way a child would lose respect for his dad if seeing him sexually abuse another child. They were chronic abusers of people. THAT is my main message, if one could say that I had a "main" message. STOP the abuse!
Wisely I decided I needed time to sort all of this out. I was working in printing in Los Angeles and living in Manhattan Beach. Should I go to the local Kingdom Hall and say hello? I didn't want to leave the organization, as I did not see it as a cult or as heretical. Yet, my greater understanding of the New Testament, coupled with my hunger to learn much more than Witnesses have to offer, led me to study the Bible for a couple of months before going back. It was a wonderful time. Then I went to a meeting at the local Kingdom Hall in El Segundo, and told them who I was. Within a month, I was an elder again. Going door-to-door with only the Bible. It didn't take long to know I could not stomach playing out a religion that didn't even have a clue to historical Christianity, as far as I was concerned. I wanted to be around others who were like myself, so I started attending a local surfers' church that taught the simple gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Shortly thereafter, I turned in a letter to the 18 members of the Governing Body and sent it to them, along with copies to my previous congregation as well as the El Segundo congregation, as a letter of disassociation. I never set foot in a Kingdom Hall again. And I was born again (again).*
"He who eats My flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me; and I in him." (John 6:54-56 NAS)
The next stage picks up in the evangelical church environment of Hope Chapel in Hermosa Beach, Calif. The difference in love and respect for one another was something I had not often seen in a Kingdom Hall. Grace was a common theme in sermons, and giving and helps were readily practiced. I volunteered to work with the handicapped for awhile. They didn't even know I had been a Witness for a year, when a female friend "outed" me for being a former Witness. I was years later on the teaching circuit about Jehovah's Witnesses, all over California and eventually other countries.
The gospel, evangel, or "good news" of the New Testament is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. (1 Cor. 15:1-4) This is the main message to be preached, that I was now certain. It's all over the NT, but especially focused in Paul's writings. To play down the importance of that was heresy.
"For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void. For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness; but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Cor. 1:17,18 NAS)
I ignored the whole Witness world for about a year, when I became more burdened to do something about religious leaders that were misleading millions of innocent people. The leaders, in the light of Paul's words, were Judaizers, of whom Paul had said,
"Even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8 NAS)
"For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, 'CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.'" (Gal. 3:10 NAS)
I had been a Judaizer myself. I counted hours, preached about everything as a Witness BUT the gospel, and whose works were really under a curse. The curse included a life of rules and subtle "suggestions," offered by "spiritual fathers" who were themselves under the curse, and knew nothing more but to pass the curse on generation to generation. As a sign of the curse: To this date there has never been a true spiritual revival in the organization's leadership. No candid apologies for the failed prophecies and dates; no regret over bad policies affecting millions of innocent lives. Only cover-up and finger-pointing to others. Very sad.
I had to let the truth of my own personal experiences at Bethel be known. Crisis of Conscience had not yet been written, and nothing by a former member was in print about the atrocities I had seen. The Spirit of Christ compelled me. I met author Edmond Gruss (Apostles of Denial, 1970) and that night wrote the tract, What Happened At The World Headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Spring of 1980? My pastor at Hope Chapel offered to print 10,000 copies free of charge and I sent them out all over the world. Thus began my ministry to set people free of that bondage and show them something better. I have never regretted that decision, and I enjoy my work immensely to this day.
I am Irish, friend, and I am a fighter. I have a kind heart and a good spirit. I do not tolerate liars. And when those who claim to be "fathers" over millions of innocent people abuse their children without repercussions, I said enough is enough. Someone has to get their hands a little dirty, and take all the flack. Like I said, I am a fighter. Humor and sarcasm, however, are more often my tool of trade. Blowing the cover off of the Emperor's Clothes, so to speak. But being careful not to be too offensive. That's where you can help me. I would appreciate specific tips from you.
As time went by, I fell in love twice but lost it, began full-time ministry to reach Witnesses, started my own church as a licensed Foursquare pastor, and after three years gave up all ties with organized churches. Not from my dissatisfaction with them, however. I had developed Crohn's Disease and public speaking and being around strangers became a major aggravation to it. It took years to finally find some natural remedies to drive the disease into submission. Even to this day I have a limited diet, but no drugs necessary.
I spent more time around the anti-cult organizations of the day, learning about mind control, other methods of patriarchal control, etc. Steven Hassan became a personal friend and taught me many things, even doing several exit-counselings together (not just on Witnesses, the same controls are used by many groups). I traveled around the world, speaking for groups. As my perceptions of the world we live in and its varied peoples and interpretations of life invariably changed, so did I. I had not been too comfortable in churches watching many of the same manipulative tricks as used by others. By this time having lived in the same beach neighborhood for 11 years, I spent more and more time with the locals, young and old. We were a large family, and I needed no other. I still live here, and still have the same local friends.
So in answer to your question, I have no church but my neighborhood, and it is a good one!
I know that many people enjoy life in the Watchtower. For many, it is my personal opinion that they should stay where they are, as it does preserve sanity for some people, for many reasons. I am here for the others, who are looking. No matter which direction they will take.
Thank you and kind wishes,
* the first time I gave my life to Christ and received the Holy Spirit was as a child, attending a Billy Graham concert. I asked my parents if I could go down and pray on my own. I prayed every night from that point onward.