In Nicholas Mavromagoulos’ book In Search of the Truth – From the Confines of the Watchtower to the Light of the Historical Church the reader not only journeys with him in his search but sees his great love for the truth which ultimately leads him to Christ, Truth personified, and His True Church. Yet, what is most revealing in the tale is not so much his desire for the truth, since one would assume all people have an instinctive yearning for it. It is instead the indifference of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to truth. As he says at one place in the book, once he was already on his way out of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society and had more than sufficient evidence that the doctrines of the JWs were false, he laments about a friend who simply refused to even hear him out: “The Society had destroyed within him all love for truth…”.
He was more than willing to share all the evidence he had discovered with as many of his JW friends as possible but most of them simply refused to even hear him out. In fact, he didn’t necessarily want to be disfellowshipped but as his meetings with the elders increased no one had any interest in pointing out the faults of his findings against the Society. In other words, they didn’t really defend themselves. Spiritual terrorism was the tactic used instead, which is to say they were more concerned and frightened about Armageddon and there was really no need in answering the accusations brought out by apostates against their religion. After all, who would dare question the Society and thus jeopardize their salvation. There is a great deal of arrogance involved, or as Nicholas writes:
If the Watchtower claimed to be a group of humble Christians who were trying to understand the Scriptures, I could sympathize with any short-comings they would come up with. Instead they claim they are nothing short of God’s only channel of communication on earth with man’s salvation depending on blind obedience to them.
And so when this only channel of communication got something wrong – which they often did – they would have a change in theology and call it “new light”, claiming that Jehovah reveals things to men progressively. This so-called new light would at times prove to be old light. For instance, the question regarding whether JWs can accept alternative service work in lieu of military service: First, the answer was Yes, then Maybe, then Yes, then No, then Yes again. That’s not Jehovah progressively revealing things to man, that’s a very confused Jehovah.
The story takes place in Greece of all places amidst the beauty of Orthodoxy. It is therefore the story of those who are led astray, some born into the Society but some baptized Orthodox Christians. He notes at one place:
The greatest mistake of all those who buy into a heresy is that, according to their ignorance, they think that Orthodoxy has nothing to teach them. And they justify themselves by claiming that they don’t understand anything the priest says in the Divine Liturgy. Yet, they don’t buy a small liturgy service book, which explains all these things in detail. [….] we go to liturgies and generally to church services not to be taught but to praise and worship God.
It is the story of both Nicholas and George, two friends who both tell their tales of exodus from the Society so that there is actually two stories in one. Once Nicholas gets out of the cult towards the end of the book he speaks about how others also made their way to the Orthodox Church. But he also mentions those sad cases of people who simply enjoy the camaraderie they find among the JWs. They openly state that they don’t care about whether it’s right or wrong. Then there are also those who leave, come into the Orthodox Church, and then in time start backsliding. They are excited at first but when the people around them stop “pushing” them to do more they simply stop. He also mentions that people who leave such organizations don’t always rush to join another church:
Usually people who depart from such organizations are so hurt by the fact that they were deceived and taken advantage of by the religion they trusted as the “channel of God”, that they can never trust anyone again, perhaps even forever. Some lose their confidence in all religions, in the Holy Scriptures and even in God.
I’ve read the same regarding the Mormons.
If anything else the book taught me some new phrases. Disfellowship, for instance and new light to name a few. I gave a little chuckle when I read one phrase: Bad Guys. The definition:
Any loosely group class of apostates that vocally criticize the Watchtower Society. The rise of the internet gave them a major momentum, especially since it is calculated that there are now more people that have left the Watchtower Society than active members.
It would appear that unlike many stories, in this one the bad guys win at the end.
Coincidentally, there’s an Orthodox blogger out there who himself was once actively involved in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He writes about it here.