I learned some very interesting things as a result of Michael Jackson’s death. I know, most people would look at me and say “David, you seem like the type of person who would not even be paying attention to that kind of news.” They would be right, but one article caught my attention. It really wasn’t about Michael Jackson’s death – it was really about Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW’s) and it was written because Michel Jackson was raised in an JW household so his death brought up the subject of what they believe.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) are familiar with being viewed as being outside the mainstream of Christianity – that’s one thing they share with JW’s. For this (and probably many other) LDS the JW’s seemed even more outside the mainstream of Christianity than we are. (They may well view us as being more on the outside than they are.) I’ve had interactions with JW’s at various times in my life and each time they seemed to be arguing their position and trying to put my beliefs down – the result was that I came away feeling that their beliefs were odd and inconsistent or full of logical holes. I was left wondering how anyone could accept such an obviously flawed belief system. Years ago I even took the time to read some of their official church publications. These were better than the debates (sometimes one-sided debates) that I had been subjected to, but their beliefs still seemed partially incoherent.
This article was written by someone who was raised in a JW jousehold, like Michael Jackson, who never did choose to become a JW. He understands their theology from an insider perspective but he is not trying to proselyte or convince, only explain. This time, although I believe differently than the JW’s on many issues their theology finally seemed coherent – I could understand how it would not feel weird to those who believed its teachings.
The result was that my respect for the JW’s has grown and I have a newfound appreciation of the power that accompanies someone telling about and explaining their beliefs from a personal perspective as opposed to official institutional explanations or individual argumentation. This is further proof of why the Savior said that “he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention.”