The Good and Bad of a JW Tract

Not the greatest photo I know, but you don’t really need to read all the text anyway

Walking home yesterday I was handed a tract on the way. The man who handed it to me looked like he was heading home, too, and didn’t try to engage me or anything. Usually I try to avoid anybody that might be an evangelist, but for some reason I took it and we both moved on without discussing. I’d like to do a quick analysis of how it compares to the average conservative Christian tract, though.

The main theme of the tract is that God has a beautiful plan for the future. It quotes how God will wipe every tear from our eyes, death will be no more (Rev 21:3-4), how we’ll have meaningful work (Isaiah 65:21-23), there will be no more sickness (Isaiah 25:8; Isaiah 33:24), and it will be a happy, unending life with family and friends (Psalm 37:11,29). It then argues that God has both the ability and the desire to fulfill that promise, again citing more biblical texts.

How does this compare to most conservative Christian tracts? Many of those tracts are also focused on eschatological questions. Unfortunately, they are almost all biased toward a fear approach: if you don’t believe the right things, these are the terrible things that will happen to you. Most conservative Christians do believe the same things about God making a better world, but for some reason they just choose to focus on the negative. And then they wonder why people think that Christians are just angry and judgemental.

In other words, points for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Of course, there is lots I disagree with, too. They don’t believe that Jesus was/is God, for the big one. In a Christian tract, usually this is the one of the key doctrines which somebody has to believe in order to avoid all that Hell stuff that the tract is primarily about. The Bible translation that they exclusively use is riddled with bias – of course all Bibles are, but there are some big ones there. They’ve definitely got some other beliefs which I don’t think are particularly good, like the lack of celebrating birthdays or Christmas or the denial of blood transfusions (that one not evident in the tract).

And there’s that very frustrating bit about how they insist on saying Jehovah. There was a very short period of time when some thought it was most accurate to say the tetragrammaton that way but it was quickly corrected to Yahweh. Jehovah’s Witnesses, though, essentially said, “you know what, we like Jehovah better.” It would be like if you found out that my real name is Bryan. You’ve been making a mistake the whole time calling me Ryan. I’d like you to start calling me by my real name Bryan now. You’d rather not. Except that this isn’t just some blogger you insist on calling the wrong name against his will; this is the creator and sustainer of the universe who you worship, very devoutly on most points. End rant.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.

1 Response

  1. Our pastor has been taking us through, over the past number of months, a lot of the major religions in the world with the point to be able to educate us on what they believe, WHY they believe it, and what faux pas we can avoid if we are to relate and reach them. He included a section on the JW’s and we’re working through LDS at the moment.

    One thing about both JW’s and LDS is that there is this hierarchy where, the deeper you go into the movement, the more secrets get revealed and the more secrets you are asked to keep. It’s rather interesting, really. At the surface level, they look really good… that tract is not one, by the sounds of it, I’d be embarassed to support most of the concepts. But it’s that “hook” that gets you in that really starts bothering me. And the illogic you have pointed out on the whole “Jehovah” thing is a symptom, minor one, of some of the head-warping that goes on in the JW organization.