[Quotes from Watchtower publications, including their New World Translation, are in blue.]
The invitation in the Awake was inclusive: “You are invited to find out [how the death of Jesus brings blessings]. Jehovah’s Witnesses welcome you to join them for this important event [the Memorial]… Attend the Kingdom Hall nearest to your home. This year the date is Sunday, April 8, after sunset. Check with the Witnesses locally for the exact time.”
So Cheryl and I checked! And Cheryl and I attended!
Anyone visiting a Kingdom Hall for the first time is impressed - the crowd is well dressed, orderly, and seems friendly. The talk, given by an older man, is fast moving and full of Scripture while the people keep pace in their New World Translation of the Bible. Cheryl and I listen, take notes, and look up the passages the speaker cites. Since this was the fifth time I had attended a Memorial, the message was familiar to me. While it covered the death of Jesus Christ, it was again essentially a defense of the Watchtower’s teaching that only the “anointed” can partake of the bread and the wine.
This service is the Watchtower’s once a year commemoration of the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples. It says in 1 Cor. 11:23-26
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (NIV translation)
Yet at this Kingdom Hall no one ate the bread or drank the wine as it was passed from hand to hand. After the passing of the bread the speaker asked, “Is there anyone in the audience who did not have the opportunity to partake of the bread?” After the passing of the wine he asked, “Is there anyone present who hasn’t had the wine offered to them?” No, everyone had the bread and wine offered to them and the opportunity to partake. But did they really? Hardly. Every Witness knows that the Memorial is for the 8,000 or so Witnesses left in the world who consider themselves to be the “anointed”. The “offer” and “opportunity” is meaningless.
Never before have I heard these questions posed at the Memorials I have attended. It would appear that the WT is getting a bit nervous about its position regarding the Memorial, and is trying to protect itself.
Aside from the bizarre scene – a large audience simply eyeing and passing the bread and wine Christ intended for every believer - listening to the talk that led up to it was disturbing for us. The following are examples of times when the Word of God was handled deceitfully:
Luke 22:19: The speaker quoted the New World Translation rendering of Jesus’ words, “This means my body which is to be given in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” The left hand Greek column of the WT’s Kingdom Interlinear reads “This is the body of me”, not “this means the body of me.” The same goes for his quotations from Matt. 26:26-28 and 1 Cor. 11:23-25.
John 3:16: The speaker quoted the WT’s version, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” He made a point of the word “exercising”, stating “Exercising implies action”, in an effort to support the WT’s position that we are not saved by faith alone but by works. However, the word “exercising” does not appear in the Greek column of the WT’s own Kingdom Interlinear, which I had in my hands! The Greek column reads “everyone the believing”, or as the New International Version reads, “whoever believes in him”. In other words, the speaker based his case on a word that isn’t even in the text!
In defending the WT’s little flock/other sheep doctrinal division the speaker appealed to this passage, “O man, who, then really, are you to be answering back to God? Shall the thing molded say to him that molded it, ‘Why did you make me this way?’” (Romans 9:20). This passage has nothing to do with the Memorial or the 144,000. Using the passage assumes that to question this unbiblical doctrine of the WT is to ‘answer back to’, to take issue with, God!
The speaker stated matter of fact that “anyone prior to the twelve apostles could not have a heavenly hope because they could not ‘exercise faith’ in Jesus because Jesus wasn’t born yet.” Yet at Heb. 11:16 the NWT expressly says otherwise: “But now they [in context, those prior to the twelve apostles] are reaching out for a better [place], that is, one belonging to heaven. Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city ready for them.” Other passages support this truth that the Old Testament saints have a heavenly hope, along with every true believer in the Messiah of all time.
The speaker laid out the earthly paradise for those not chosen for heaven, based as usual on the wrong interpretation of John 10:16, see Christ: Mediator for a Few.
Finally the speaker laid out the steps to be taken in order to merit eternal life, in direct contradiction to the many promises in God’s Word such as 1 John 5:11-13, etc. As a carrot to keep the Witnesses active in the field service he held out the “prospect of one day being called God’s son”. The WT’s teaching as stated in the WT, Aug. 15, 1945, apparently still holds: Witnesses not of the 144,000 do not have Jehovah as their father, in contradiction to 1 John 3:1,2 and 5:1. The WT has, tragically, made God’s Word “null and void”.
On this sad note the talk ended. Cheryl and I slowly exited the hall. One or two women greeted us. Then we both recognized an attendant we had seen at the Tacoma Dome last summer as Sound Witness preached the Gospel to the Witnesses in attendance over the megaphones and through our signs. We greeted him and introduced ourselves and I welcomed him to visit my husband and me (stating that this was not the best place to express our concerns about what we had heard) but he declined and asked us to leave the premises. Clearly Witnesses are not interested in talking to anyone who is familiar with the Bible and Watchtower doctrine and history. Some things never change! Nevertheless, our visit was not in vain. It confirmed what we have known, indicating that we cannot be charged with misrepresenting the Watchtower or it’s obedient followers, the Jehovah’s Witnesses. May God give them grace to compare their doctrines with the Bible’s clear statements quoted above.
Written by Greta Olsoe