Skip to comments.Can it Be
Posted on 04/24/2011 6:34:14 PM PDT by Mary Kochan
This is my 17th Easter.
For the first 38 years of my life I did not celebrate Easter because I was one of Jehovahs Witnesses, a pseudo- Christian group with a very strange economy of salvation. It is not easy to describe life in a cult like Jehovahs Witnesses. It is very dark. Even their light is darkness.
Jehovahs Witnesses do not believe in the Trinity, so they do not believe in the deity of Christ. They believe that Jesus was Michael the Archangel before he came to earth, and that after he was resurrected, he went back to being Michael the Archangel but with the name Jesus. They do believe Jesus died (but not on a cross) to save mankind from sin and death by atoning for the disobedience of Adam. Jesus had to be a perfect man, to match Adam in every respect, and thus he takes Adams place as our father. I know this is weird not to mention the whole ontological problem of how he is an angel, then a human, and then an angel again but Im telling you about it because I want you to know that I had an idea that I could call myself a Christian and believe Jesus died for me, without conceiving of Jesus as God.
Most of you reading this are like my grandchildren who have heard all their lives that Jesus died for you and that Jesus is God the Son - true God from true God. It has never dawned on you, because it was always the light that you lived in.
But it dawned on me.
In 1993, after a long and harrowing period of life disruption, searching for the peace and transformative power that I read about in the New Testament, I had an encounter with Christ.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in sin and natures night; Thine eye diffused a quickening ray I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
I did not know then that he was Deity, but I knew that he was not who the Jehovahs Witnesses said he was. I knew that I would have to leave the religion that I had grown up in and known all my life. I would have to walk away from every relationship of my adult life. I went to a church.
Now to you, that might seem like the most natural thing in the world for me to do. You want to know about Jesus, you go to a church. But for me it was terrifying. I had always been told that churches housed demons. Jehovahs Witnesses do not even like to turn their cars around in a church parking lot. But that visit to a church set me on the road to learning the truth about Jesus. It became pretty clear, pretty quickly that Christians worshiped Jesus. The fundamental fact of my religious upbringing had been that you only worshiped God (Jehovah), who is Jesus father. To worship anything or anyone else was to be guilty of idolatry. But there was a tractor beam on my heart. I had to figure out who Jesus really was.
Having left what I recognized to be a religion of error, I was very leery about falling into error or being misled once again. But I knew that I had to open my mind to the witness and the arguments of Christians around me in order to untwist the distorted way I had learned to read scripture.
A humorous skit put on one time at a meeting of ex-Jehovahs Witnesses illustrated what I was facing. It featured a Christian trying to help a recently-exited Witness. When the ex-JW expressed confusion about Christian doctrine, the Christian said, Oh, its easy. Just believe everything the opposite.
What are you talking about? the baffled ex-JW asked.
Well, you didnt used to believe in the Trinity, and now you do. You didnt used to believe in the deity of Christ, and now you do. You didnt used to believe in the immortal soul, and now you do. You didnt used to believe in going to heaven, and now you do. You didnt used to believe in celebrating Christmas, and now you do. See, everything is the opposite. Its easy.
The appreciative laughter with which this was greeted gave testament to the fact that it is not easy! And the more you care, really care, about the truth, the harder your struggle is. If you have always lived in the truth, you cant imagine how hard it is.
For a while I lived in a partial shadow. I was in love with Jesus, but still didnt know what to make of all the Christian adoration of Him? How could I explain this phenomenon if he were not God?
I found some relief by latching onto the biblical image of the Church as the Bride of Christ. After all, what would be more natural than for a bride to be focused on her bridegroom? Of course Christians sang love songs to Jesus! It was the Jehovahs Witnesses who were strange like a bride who ignored her groom and tried to give all her affection to her father-in-law instead.
Meanwhile, I was participating in Christian prayer and worship to the best of my limited understanding. I also asked questions, and I studied and studied and studied. Finally I was turned on to reading the Early Church Fathers. It started to became clear to me that this teaching that Jesus was Divine, was God in the flesh was really Christian teaching from the beginning, was the apostolic witness.
There was just one problem left in my mind: If Jesus was God, then that man on the Cross was God.
It would mean that God had died.
It would mean that God had died for me.
For all time, there will be no more astounding, no more elevating, no more humbling proposal to a human soul than this.
And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviors blood! Died he for me who caused his pain For me who him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
He left his Fathers throne above (so free, so infinite his grace!), emptied himself of all but love, and bled for Adams helpless race. Tis mercy all, immense and free, for O my God, it found out me!
Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
The sun had come up in my life.
[The lyrics are from the hymn, "And Can it Be (Amazing Love)", by Charles Wesley.
Oops — messed up in trying to get all the words of the hymn in italics. Sorry ‘bout that — but you know what’s what.
Happy Easter to you, Mary Kochan. What a great testimony you have. I’m guessing it was all part of A Plan!
Mary I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness too. Now I’m Roman Catholic. I don’t exactly see how running down another faith creates for you a more “happy Easter”, but to each his own.
How is what she said “running down” Jehovah’s Witnesses? She discovered the truth (as you also have, apparently) and rejected the untruth of her former faith.
Since you asked the question I’ll tell you. When I explain my reasons for leaving the Witness’s to people I simply tell them that I know longer agreed with/believed their faith. I don’t find it necessary to itemize our points of contention.
Let’s say you have an ex-girlfriend (I’m assuming your a guy and if not I apologize). If somebody says to you, “Why did you and ____ break up?” do you say something nice like, “We weren’t right for each other” or do you start listing everything you thought wrong with that person? If you start listing everything you thought wrong with them, then that IS running them down. Same thing with religious faith.
Thank you for that!
save for later
I’m Catholic too.
This is called a testimony. It has everything to do with glorifying the grace of God that saved us from darkness. Are you telling me that you don’t recognize that the JWs are decieved about who Jesus is?
I find that incomprehensible for any Christian, and even more so for a Catholic where we hold the Holy Trinity and the Deity of Our Lord at the center of our faith.
These are not things about which we can be indifferent.
Excellent testimony, Mary. Thanks for posting it.
Mary, thank you for your story. I was buddhist before i came to christ. easter has a new meaning to me now, as well. my caps lock/shift key is going out. that’s why my post looks funny.
You can call it that if you want but it looks like you just hate the Witnesses to me. I feel sorry for them. There’s a lot of good people in that faith and it’s a shame that they believe what they believe. But I don’t hate them.
Thanks for an interesting story of the evolution of your faith.
I did not find it especially critical of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I had a family member who embraced that faith and it is very hard on kids, separates them from society in destructive ways. Of the three children, none remain witnesses, one is a Roman Catholic, one escaped early and is a Methodist I think and one is an agnostic.
The two younger children were severely harmed psychologically. I would be more inclined to be critical than you were.
Happy Easter Mary.
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God bless you Sweet Sister!
It’s amazing when truth hits you, isn’t it?
You are really quite shallow.
WELCOME HOME !!!!!!!!!
Nothing she’s written here is hateful; you are way off-base claiming that she’s deriding JWs. She is, however, specific about why she left that misguided faith. The specifics make the story of conversion believable. I have no idea why this troubles you.
Giving Glory and Praise to our Lord Jesus Christ is not
being negative. Trying in this way to reach other lost
souls is not negative.
I am thankful for the testimony and that she persisted in finding the simple truth that our God died for us the lowest of sinners. That is what so many of us consider ourselves. We have a heavenly Father who guides us with the Holy Spirit and His Word.
I praise my Lord and thank Him for this Resurrection Day to celebrate His love and His Salvation to me.
To understand the Light one has found, they must sometimes testify about the shadows from whence they came....
I’m sure that you don’t mean to sound judgemental...Do you?
The fate of one’s immortal soul, and of the souls of one neighbors, is a far more crucial matter than describing the character of a former girl friend.
Have you considered becoming a Baptist? You avoid paganism; plus, we have pot-luck meals!
***Kicking Hornets nest and Running!***
***Donning Asbestos Drawers***
“And Can It Be” is an outstanding hymn that encapsulates the Christian message in song!
I did consider it. Thank you for the invite — you wouldn’t be a good Baptist if you didn’t make it. Let us together praise our Savior while our Easter joy is still fresh in our hearts. We can argue another time. God love and keep you.
“You avoid paganism; ...”
I have a huge respect for my true Baptist friends, they are as sound Biblically as a non Catholic can be. In that light, what do you mean “paganism”?
Yes, it is wonderful. I learned it at a Methodist church. I love the Wesleyian hymns.
God bless you and guide you, sweet sister!
Thanks for posting this Mary, it was very interesting and I didn’t find that it was “running down” any religion at all. It was very informative. I didn’t know some of the things you listed about the religion of your youth. We had a very small JW group in our small town when I was a kid. Where I live now, we get an unwelcome visit once a year or so from another group of them.
Tell me, is it true that when the person whose home they are approaching, doesn’t want to talk with them, isn’t that some kind of badge of honor or proof to them that they are the chosen ones and not us non-Witnesses? I’ve always wondered that, and I must have heard it somewhere in the past.
Welcome to the fold Mary! God Bless you!
Compare the Catholic pantheon of saints to any culture’s pantheon of gods.
Saints are any and all saved in heaven - how is that either a “pantheon” or “paganism”? Is the the communion of saints not part of the Apostles Creed?
We Christians in this country can talk about our faith openly in ways that are the envy of many of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world — so we’d better do it!
A "Saint" is one who suffers for God.
A "Saint" does not need a Papal Decree to be a "Saint."
Happy Easer and Peace be with you! I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness and have been baptised and confirmed in the Catholic Faith as well...just this Holy Saturday. It has been an exhilarationg journey to say the least and I am confident in my dedication to my savior. I, too, was quite confused that Jesus was not worshipped as God even though he laid down his life, sent for just that purpose, and yet JWs deny his gift to us. Here’s a question though....JWs believe that Jesus was crucified on a stake not a cross. Is there any documentation that criminals were condemned to death on a stake? I have read about people being crucified on a cross not a stake. Is it anywhere in written history? I think that Russell and the other founding JWs were fast and loose with the facts.
“A “Saint” does not need a Papal Decree to be a “Saint.””
Even the Pope agrees, how then are Saints “pagan”?
When people are rude to them at the door, they consider that to be “persecution” and yes, they think that is a mark that they have the truth. Actually though, they are often rude and obnoxioius to people and they are often pushy, prompting a negative reaction, which they are very proud of. It is kind of perverse.
A couple of things though:
1. I really think that every Christian should try to be as loving to them as possible — that’s what we are called to.
2. Remember that although they look zealous — they really are not; they are driven. Going door-to-door is reqired of them and they have to report to their local elders how much time they spend doing so each month.
3. If you are a strong Christian and you can detain them by inviting them in, giving them some refreshment and talking to them, you kill two birds with one stone: you show them the love of Christ AND you keep them from visitng someone they might mislead.
Of course I'm judgmental. So are you. So is everybody. If you say you're not judgmental you're either delusional or a liar. I would prefer to believe you're delusional. You're not a liar...Are you?
First off, we weren’t talking about me, we were talking about you.
Second, you sure seem to be trying to pick a fight, and on Easter Sunday...shame on you.
If you look at all the ancient depictions of crucifixion, they show various forms of crosses and rarely a crucifixion on a pole without a cross beam. But we know that Jesus was crucified on a cross with a cross beam.
I find it very interesting that JW’s came very early in their history to reject the cross, but then again it makes sense if you consider what St. Paul said in Phil 3: 18, 19 about those who were enemies of the cross with their minds set of earthly things — JW’s minds are set on life in a paradise earth.
You should join the Fellowship of Catholic Ex-JW’s. If you Google it, you can find it. They have a forum/list and give a lot of support to Catholics who have JW family members in how to deal with them.
And no, I’m neither delusional or a liar
you’ve never lied ?
My gosh, there isn’t a hateful word in Ms. Kochan’s comments or, if you please, her witness (no pun intended), for it certainly is that. If anything, her witness is the truth of what real Christian love is, and means. If someone (for example) is drinking themselves to death or snorting cocaine everyday, is it hateful for another person to want the best for them and to try to help them kick the habit (knowing full well it is the person with the problem who must take the first real/true steps to sobriety or being clean). Is it hateful or loving to tell the afflicted person the truth? Is it a hateful or a loving thing to let them continue down the road to physical, mental and spiritual ruin? According to what you are saying to Ms. Kochan, you apparently think the former. The way I read and comprehend Ms. Kochan’s heartfelt statement of Christian truth is one of love; love for her God and love for her fellow man who in this instance happen to be JWs. Surely, you know that this is the Summary of God’s Law. It is the same for RCs, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and even some Episcopalians.
I have three specific friends who are “Witnesses”. I find their beliefs to be incredulous and outrageous at times as well as woefully misguided. I don’t hate these people and I do pray for their conversion. They are really good and nice people and I surely enjoy being with them when I see them, but just as their belief suggests that I am bound for perdition, my faith and your faith says that “no one goes to the Father but by and through Jesus the Christ. Jesus’ statement is really strong stuff and quite dogmatic, but He most certainly says it in love, without guile and certainly without the slightest shred of hate.
FYI, here are the steps that a canoization goes through before a person is pronounced Venerable, Blessed or Saint.
Holy confusion? Beatification, canonization are different (Catholic Caucus)
Vatican to encourage greater caution in opening sainthood causes
Pope clarifies Churchs traditions, norms for canonization; announces new instruction
They Need A Miracle Will a future pope relax the rules for sainthood?
Role of Miracles In Sainthood Eyed
Saint-making Pope is ready to ditch the miracle clause
Contribution to a Canonization
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: The Canonization of Saints: Current Canonization Process, Biblical Description of Miracles
Thank you Mary...I am now praying for guidance in how to profess my new found faith to my parents. They are not practicing JWs, however, they still believe in it as the “truth.” My dad is coming for a visit in June and I would like to be able to share this with him but I feel that it may turn into a bad visit if I do. He’s pushing 80 now and I don’t want to cause a rift between us. As you know, if you were previously a JW and then choose to leave...even family members will shun you.
Artemis, is telling the truth about Obama the same thing as running down Obama?
If we tell the truth about Islam, is that the same as running down Islam?
Thank you for that beautiful testimony. My wife and I have witnessed to Jehovah’s Witnesses from time to time over the years and know how difficult it is for a Witness to turn from the WatchTower to orthodox Christianity. I appreciate your sharing what you were going through.
That hymn, “And, Can It Be”, truly is a great hymn of the faith and eloquently speaks wonderful doctrinal truths of what God in Christ has accomplished for us in love.
I had a similar “awakening” experience in regard to the wonder of the incarnation of Christ. Many years ago, I was witnessing to a friend about the Gospel. He listened respectfully, but shook his head and said that he just couldn’t believe in a God who would cause His own son to suffer so horribly on the cross. Now, mind you, although I was a Christian, I really didn’t know much about doctrine. I didn’t know much about the Trinity, but as my friend was speaking, a thought entered my head to say to him, “That was not just God’s Son on that cross - it was God Himself suffering for us in our behalf”. My friend looked at me with a shocked look on his face. He said, “Wow, I’ve never heard that before. That put’s it in a whole new light.” I didn’t say outloud, but I was thinking the same thing.
Later on I talked with some other more doctirnally solid Christian friends about it and they explained that what I had told my friend was true. They went on to explain the Trinity more fully and the more I’ve learned about it, the more I am amazed at the humility and love of God to do what He did.
Again, thank you for sharing your testimony. My wife and I pray many more “Happy Easter” days to you and yours.
God bless you.
Wonderful to hear of a JW saved. They seem so “impossible.” But nothing is impossible with God.
“3. If you are a strong Christian and you can detain them by inviting them in, giving them some refreshment and talking to them, you kill two birds with one stone: you show them the love of Christ AND you keep them from visitng someone they might mislead.”
Heh - I didn’t think of the “keeping them occupied” aspect. As a college kid I invited the two JW into the house where I rented a room and talked. Then they came by once a week for Bible Study. After several weeks of this, I, the naive college kid gave up, and told them “It’s been interesting - but I’m not going to convert you - and you’re not going to convert me, so we might as well end this.”
I did still talk about the Bible and have discussion’s with my landlady that lived upstairs when we would share the kitchen. She was Morman! We both kept it very friendly, although we both knew where each other stood.
I did tell one of the other housemates though to stop visiting me in her dreams - some New Age stuff with dream guides or something! Probably a bunch of hooey, but I figured one never knows - “so knock it off!”
Happy Easter Mary. Being like your grandkids, I never had a huge “Ah Ha!” moment. (Lot’s of little ones though when I would finally better understand something!). But as joyous and amazing as the death and resurrection is to me - it must be even more powerful and joyous for you.
Thank you for telling your story.