TESTIMONY OF A FORMER JEHOVAH’S WITNESS
Edmond C. Gruss
My experience with the Jehovah’s Witnesses began one day in 1940, when I was seven years old. A woman with a phonograph called on our home in Palms, California, and played a record of one of Watch Tower president Judge Rutherford’s talks. My mother became interested in the urgent message.
This initial contact turned into a ten-year period of having book studies in our home, studying the latest Watch Tower materials, attending congregational meetings at rented Kingdom halls, travelling to and working at assemblies, calling house-to-house and witnessing on street corners.
When I was eight I accompanied my mother and other Witnesses to the national convention in St. Louis, Missouri. I remember receiving the new book, Children, which was released on “Children’s Day,” Sunday, August 10, 1941. The book further reinforced the belief that Armageddon was very near. It told the touching story of twenty-year-old John, and eighteen-year-old Eunice, who, although they loved each other very much, agreed to postpone their marriage reasoning:
Armageddon is surely near, and during that time the Lord will clean off the
earth everything that offends and is disagreeable....Our hope is that within a
few years our marriage may be consummated and, by the Lord’s grace, we
shall have sweet children that will be an honor to the Lord. We can well defer
our marriage until lasting peace comes to earth (p. 366).
As I write this, the “few years” are now more than sixty.
When the September 15, 1941 Watchtower reported on the distribution on “Children’s Day” of 15,000 copies of the book, it stated:
Receiving the gift, the marching children clasped it to them, not a toy or
plaything for idle pleasure, but the Lord’s provided instrument for most
effective work in the remaining months before Armageddon (p. 288).
President Rutherford told the children in the Watchtower: “It is your priviledge between now and before the day school opens to spend six hours a day in taking the book Children to others.” The Watchtower article then urges: “The parents should encourage their children to do this very thing, if they would have them live” (ibid.). I remember telling my friends and others how short the time was before Armageddon.
In 1950, at the age of seventeen I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I was like the Philippian jailer as he asked, “What must I do to be saved?” The answer came, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved...” (Acts 16:31). Christ said “Verily, verily, I say to you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that send me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). I knew from that time onward that a change had come into my life. I also read in Ephesians 2:8-10 where works fit: “For by grace have ye been saved through faith; and not that of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.” (I read these and other passages from the American Standard Version which the Watch Tower Society had reprinted). Salvation came through faith in the finished work of Christ, not through an organization!
After graduating from college and completing further studies, I spent 36 years teaching at a Christian college, most of these as chairman of the history department. Because of my experience in the Jehovah’s Witnesses I wrote a number of books and articles on this organization and various cults and the occult.
Faith & Reason Forum would like to thank our dear friend for sharing his testimony with us.
For those interested, you can find some of Dr. Gruss’ materials in our resource section].