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.