Bible Truth Advances in “the Bible Belt”
THE one sign of spiritual health in “the Bible Belt” (and elsewhere in the world) was recently pointed to by Baptist Church historian Dr. H. L. McManus of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He singled out Jehovah’s witnesses as due to become a ‘big denomination’ and called attention to their ‘phenomenal growth.’
Figures shown here, based on the work of Jehovah’s witnesses in fifteen states in the traditional “Bible Belt” region, reveal that, indeed, they have had, as Dr. McManus notes, a ‘phenomenal growth.’
Year: 1961 1971 1972
No. of JW’s: 70,926 101,032 120,425
Notice that the increase in one year, from 1971 to 1972, was almost two thirds what it had been in the ten-year period between 1961 and 1971. But why have they grown so vigorously? Consider the explanation offered in a sermon by another Baptist clergyman, C. Earl Cooper of the Riverside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida:
“Witnesses believe the Bible . . . from beginning to the end, ‘not a part of it, but all of it.’ If you [Baptists] believed in your religion as much as they believe in theirs, if you persisted in the intelligent realism of your religion as much as they do in theirs, if the ten million Southern Baptists across this country believed in their religion the way Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in their religion, these Southern Baptists would turn North America upside down or upside up, right side up, but we don’t.”
Thousands of people have found that “Witnesses believe the Bible” and so have turned from fundamentalist churches where God’s Word is often given little more than lip service. Though many persons earnestly desired to understand the Bible and use it as a guide for their lives, it remained like a closed book to them until they contacted Jehovah’s witnesses.
For instance, a man in Columbia, South Carolina, contrasts fifty years in “Bible Belt” churches with what he learned by studying with the Witnesses: “As I studied with Jehovah’s witnesses I began to realize that in Sunday School [of my former church] we had the roll call, two collection plates were passed, the Bible was never opened or used. I just sat and listened and never learned anything from the Bible. When I attended the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s witnesses I heard a fine Bible talk, looking up many scriptures and really getting accurate knowledge and understanding.”
Of course, this man found that Jehovah’s witnesses not only learn about the Bible, but really believe it and live it. For instance, they do not pass “collection plates” or financially assess members of the congregation. Rather, they follow the Scriptural principle of voluntary giving as found at 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Truth About the Dead Attracts Many
Hundreds of persons who have been in the churches in the South and want to believe the Bible have been perplexed by the teaching of “hellfire.” For instance, a woman in Houma, Louisiana, reveals the frustration she once felt about the “hellfire” doctrine: “I had been taught that God was a God of love as stated at John 3:16, yet the church taught a burning hell. This just did not seem logical for a God of love. I had recently experienced the loss of a loved one in my family and was concerned about the condition of this person. I was thrilled to learn from the Bible the condition of the dead as well as the wonderful hope of a resurrection.” Yes, the simple Bible truth stated at Ecclesiastes 9:5, that ‘the dead are conscious of nothing at all,’ and are asleep in death awaiting a resurrection or return to life, appeals to honest-hearted persons, as it did to this woman. She knows now that a loving God does not torment persons eternally in a “hellfire.”
Another woman, in Daraville, Georgia, had lost her mother in death. She asked her Baptist minister if her mother (not a member of the minister’s church) was in “hellfire.” This woman, in recalling his attempts to answer, concluded: “Well, when I heard the ‘maybes’ and ‘I don’t knows,’ that was it. I finally realized that the man didn’t know anything about God’s Word the Bible. So I decided to forget the whole thing, the preacher, the church, everything.”
Sometime later Jehovah’s witnesses called on her. Now, not only her questions about the condition of the dead were answered, but she learned how the Bible assists the living. She says: “Now I’m learning the Christian way of life. Jehovah’s witnesses really have God as the Supreme Authority on all matters no matter how big or how small the problem. All the answers are in the Bible and now I’m finding them, with the hope of helping others like myself that haven’t been getting their questions answered from God’s Word.”
Biblical Morality Appeals
The genuine, unhypocritical standard of Biblical morality upheld by the organization of Jehovah’s witnesses has appealed to hundreds of persons.
Thus a man who had been a member of the board of trustees of a Baptist church in Louisiana recalls: “At a meeting of the trustees we were instructed by the assistant pastor to teach the teen-age boys how to commit fornication with the girls without getting them pregnant.” He quit the church.
Then what happened? He states: “My wife began studying with the Witnesses. She was impressed with their moral cleanness. I was invited to the meetings. I noticed right away the friendliness of the congregation. Then too I learned that the congregation disfellowships wrongdoers. I knew that here was the organization with very high moral standards.” This man has accepted the Bible’s standards of morality and is now one of Jehovah’s witnesses.
Bible Prophecy Interests Many
Other persons have thrilled to learn of the Bible’s prophecies. The Christian apostle Peter shows that Christians do well to ‘pay attention to the prophetic word.’—2 Pet. 1:19.
But in most “Bible Belt” churches, prophecy is largely ignored. One “Church of Christ” minister in Georgia even refers to prophecy as ‘open to all sorts of subjective speculation.’
However, the current unparalleled conditions in the world are clearly understood only in the light of Bible prophecy. (See Matthew chapter 24; Mark chapter 13 and Luke chapter 21.) Additionally, it is prophecy that reveals to the Christian the marvelous New Order of righteousness where God’s will shall be done on earth as in heaven. (Matt. 6:9; Rev. 21:1-4) Many persons are seeing that this hope is firmly held by the Christian witnesses of Jehovah because they believe the entire Word of God. Learning of that same hope, they, too, have become Witnesses.
As these few examples reveal, the Truth of God’s Word, taught by Jehovah’s witnesses, is spreading rapidly in “the Bible Belt,” as it is throughout the rest of the world. While other churches are watching their membership rolls sag, the Witnesses are growing numerically and, most importantly, spiritually, in an understanding of God’s Holy Word. Why not personally find out the reasons for this growth? Wherever you live, contact Jehovah’s witnesses, learn the Truth from the people who really pattern their beliefs and their lives after the Bible.