My name is Joe Leddy, I was a associated with Jehovah Witnesses for almost ten years from 1989. I was baptized in the early 90's and went on to serve in Blanchardstown Congregation here in Dublin Ireland.
Initially my wife opposed my association with the Witnesses however after almost three years of opposition she eventually agreed to a bible study and was baptized herself two years later. In 1998 while doing some personal bible study (study that would be outside the normal day to day study that was required in order to benefit fully from the weekly meeting schedule) I came across several anomalies regarding the timing of certain historical events, while on the surface of it the dates may seem unimportant they are pivotal for the teaching/understanding of what God actually wants for us today.
For many years the Witnesses held closely to certain Time Line Prophecies, scriptural prophecies that foretold certain things that would happen many years in advance, some of these prophecies came to pass before the bible was completed (for example Israel falling from Gods Grace and her captivity to the Assyrians, the birth and death of Jesus Christ and the overthrow of Jerusalem in the first century B.C). Charles Russell was obsessed with time line and parallel prophecy, he was always trying to join the dots, so to speak, with dates identified in the bible (See Time Line Prophecies for more on this subject). Parallel Prophecies derive from actual events that have taken place and are recorded in the bible so we can clearly identify a modern situation and relate it back to the bible. It is said these events occurred to a greater or lesser extent in the future. So initially it wasn't the spiritual man that attracted me to the bible this kind of material fascinated me.
Long before I discovered the dates above I had a wonderful five or six years as a Jehovah Witnesses. Please don't get me wrong I made some wonderful friends over the years and even now over six years later I still remember some of these people with fond memories. I was convinced that I had forged some of these friendships forever. I really believed that I was going to live forever her on planet earth and would be helping my Jehovah Witnesses friends to build their homes in a peaceful new world. That last line may sound like a crock however when you are reading and repeating the Jehovah Witnesses understanding of the scriptures day in and day out, in time I would argue that most Witnesses sincerely believe that the Watchtower version of the bible is correct.
So how did all begin? I went to a new acquaintances home and found a book called Reasoning From the Scriptures on the ground, I picked it up and began to read it. I had never seen anything like it. It went from Abortion right down to Zion and tackled almost every subject head on. The thing that drew me to this book was the amount of scriptural references there were seemingly backing up everything it was claiming. Also more than any other book I had ever seen there was a huge reverence for the Holy Scriptures. Every major statement was seemingly backed by the bible, how could this be? I had been born and raised as a typical Irish Catholic, I was educated in Catholic schools, we studied the Cathatisim while readying ourselves for Conformation. While there was an occasional reference made to the Bible most of the content was based on the Mass and the teachings of the Holy Sea. To me this book was like a gold mine.
I took the book home with me and within 24 hrs I had a visit from two Jehovah Witnesses, we had a general and then I was asked if I wanted to study the bible with their help. I was very interested as I had often wondered about the bible, I had often wondered if it was from god or if it was a book written by men. When I said this I couldn't believe that one of the Witnesses put his hand into his bag and produced a little red book called You Can Live Forever on Paradise Earth, the book actually asked and answered this very question. However at the time I didn't realise that it wasn't God that was answering my question it was the Watchtower's view point that I was getting not Gods. I agreed to a study of the bible with them if not for any other reason than to learn a little more about the bible. From here it snowballed...within four months I was having two studies per week, was attending meetings and also doing as much personal study as I could. All this time I was totally unaware of the affect this was having on my wife and hence our marriage and on the relationships with most of my family. In particular it had a huge impact on the relationship I had with my father. He absolutely hated the Witnesses, he seen them for what they were, an newly formed (relatively speaking) American organization with a hidden agenda. I didn't realise it at the time however all this was going to impact my life in ways that I never imagined.
So my study was progressing I would see Mick (the Witnesses I was studying with), I was getting into all sorts of things while studying. Moreover I was getting a very twisted view of the religions of the world presented to me in very stuble ways. For example one of the chapters that comes up early in the book challenges the teachings of most of the big churches. However as I was a Catholic the Witness I studied with had brushed up on the issues that the Catholic Church was involved in all over the world. Not only present day stuff but things going back hundreds and hundreds of years. The illegitimacy of the Pope was one conversation, using the Jehovah Witnesses bible to attach the church teachings. He even asked me to get my hands on different types of bibles, the King James and the New Jerusalem Bible so as to show that the bibles were "the same". Most bibles are pretty much the same it is only when you compare them to the