.:ARE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES ALLOWED TO STUDY THE BIBLE BY ITSELF?
“I am studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and one thing I read on your website said that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to study the Bible on their own without Watchtower literature. However, the Jehovah’s Witness brothers I study with often encourage me to read and study the Bible whenever I get the chance, even if I’m by myself. So, why would they encourage me to read and study the Bible by myself if they had something to hide? Even at the meetings, we are not just told about the Scriptures, we are instructed to look them up with the brother who is teaching us, and he goes through the Scriptures in detail so that nothing is missed. We are all encouraged to read the Bible by ourselves, all the way through from Genesis to Revelation. I would like to know who told you the wrong information you have on your website about Jehovah’s Witnesses?”
We can understand your confusion over our claims about Jehovah’s Witnesses not being allowed to study the Bible on their own without Watchtower literature. It is true that they are often encouraged to read the Bible on their own, but “reading” the Bible is not the same as “studying” and “interpreting” the Bible by itself. Let’s consider what the Watchtower organization has said about independent Bible reading, study and research:
“Thus the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible. For this reason the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah’s visible organization in mind.” (The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, p. 587)
If Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Bible does not belong to “individuals” but only to the Watchtower organization and that “the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah’s visible organization in mind,” how can they believe that they can “study” and “interpret” the Bible on their own without Watchtower literature?
“We all need help to understand the Bible, and we cannot find the Scriptural guidance we need outside the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ organization.” (The Watchtower, February 15, 1981, p. 19)
Why would the Watchtower say that we “need help to understand the Bible” and we “cannot find the Scriptural guidance we need outside” its organization, if Jehovah’s Witnesses believe you can “study” and “interpret” the Bible on your own without Watchtower literature?
“Does ‘the faithful and discreet slave’ [Watchtower organization] endorse independent groups of Witnesses who meet together to engage in Scriptural research or debate? (Matt. 24:45, 47). No, it does not. And yet, in various parts of the world, a few associates of our organization have formed groups to do independent research on Bible-related subjects. Some have pursued an independent group study of Biblical Hebrew and Greek so as to analyze the accuracy of the New World Translation. … They have also held conferences and produced publications to present their findings and to supplement what is provided at our Christian meetings and through our literature. … Thus, ‘the faithful and discreet slave’ does not endorse any literature, meetings, or Web sites that are not produced or organized under its oversight … For those who wish to do extra Bible study and research, we recommend that they explore Insight on the Scriptures, All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial, and our other publications.” (Kingdom Ministry, September 2007, p. 3)
If Jehovah’s Witnesses are discouraged from doing “independent research on Bible-related subjects,” isn’t that the same as discouraging them from studying the Bible by itself? Why would the Watchtower discourage Jehovah’s Witnesses from “literature, meetings and Web sites that are not produced” by its leadership, if they have nothing to hide?
“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.” (The Watchtower, August 15, 1981, pp. 28-29)
Why would the Watchtower warn against reading the “bible exclusively … alone or in small groups at home,” if Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that it is ok to read the Bible alone without using Watchtower literature? If the Watchtower Society is honestly interpreting the Bible in context, why would it have to warn its readers that those who read the Bible by itself will end up believing the so-called “apostate” doctrines of Christianity? Doesn’t this raise a red flag in your mind that they are twisting the Scriptures to fit their doctrines?
“Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the SCRIPTURE STUDIES aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years—if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness.” (The Watch Tower, September 15, 1910, p. 298, Watchtower Reprints, p. 4685)
Don’t you find it amazing that not only has the Watchtower had to warn its readers against reading the Bible “alone” without its guidance as recently as in its 1981 – 2007 publications, but its warnings against going “to the Bible alone” have extended as far back as its 1910 editions of the Watchtower?
“On occasion opposers will question the various teachings that Jehovah’s people hold in common … They will declare that all one needs to do is to read the Bible. But Christendom has been reading the Bible for centuries.” (The Watchtower, March 1, 1983, p. 25)
“We must not lose sight of the fact that God is directing his organization … To turn away from Jehovah and his organization, to spurn the direction of ‘the faithful and discreet slave,’ and to rely simply on personal Bible reading and interpretation is to become like a solitary tree in a parched land.” (The Watchtower, June 1, 1985, pp. 19-20)
“Unless we are in touch with this channel of communication that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do.” (The Watchtower, December 1, 1981, p. 27)
If Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that they can understand the Bible by itself, why would the Watchtower discourage Jehovah’s Witnesses from relying “simply on personal Bible reading and interpretation” and tell them that they cannot “progress” without Watchtower literature no matter how much “Bible reading” they do?
As we have seen from the above Watchtower quotes, Jehovah’s Witnesses are allowed to read the Bible on their own, but they better not lay aside their study of the Watchtower publications to do so; nor are they allowed to rely upon “personal bible reading and interpretation” and be part of groups that do “independent research on Bible-related subjects” if they hope to remain in the so-called “truth” of Watchtower teachings.
“Thank you for responding to my letter, BUT you still have not answered my question. Please tell me in your own words: why would the Jehovah’s Witnesses encourage me to read and study the Bible by myself if they have something to hide? I would like to know who is telling you this stuff about Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only ones who follow the Bible. They go door-to-door preaching the Good News. In the Bible it says that blood belongs to God. That is why they do not have blood transfusions. Only the 144,000 will go to Heaven. In the Bible, it does not say that everyone will go to Heaven or Hell. If it does, please tell me where in the Bible it says so.”
OUR SECOND RESPONSE
They encourage you to study the Bible yourself BECAUSE you are also studying WITH them and their publications —thus, you are getting their SPIN on what they say the Bible is teaching. Your email is a good example: “Only the 144,000 will go to heaven.”
Where does the Bible say that ONLY the 144,000 go to Heaven? We can show you many verses that say that ALL who believe in Jesus are adopted into God’s family (John 1:12; 1 John 5:1; Galatians 4:4-6), have God’s Spirit (Romans 8:14), and are born again to be in God’s Kingdom of Heaven (John 3:3; Revelation 19:1). Yet, you CAN’T show us a SINGLE Bible verse that says that ONLY 144,000 will be in Heaven.
It sure looks like they’ve done a good job of twisting your understanding of the Bible. According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, you are safe reading the Bible yourself now because you are reading it through their rose-colored, Watchtower glasses!
“These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” (1 John 2:26-27, New American Standard Bible)
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