The beginning of the end
The next day, I already had the book in my hands. I hid it well and I did not share this information with anyone. Thus a third round of research began about the desolation of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, by coincidence, also lasting six months.
During this interval I phoned George, who was elucidating some doubtful elements along the way, often. My student had now become my teacher! We were both in the state of hopeful expectation that the organization would tell the truth in the end.
Johnson’s book was voluminous and full of complicated calculations. Fortunately, by the grace of God, I had become accustomed to the topic from my previous studies and I understood it with ease. I had the suspicion however, that all this could be one of Satan’s traps, to deceive the people and lead them outside of the ‘Organization of God’.
For this reason I did not make my calculations with a calculator alone, but also mentally, fearing that Satan could alter the results of my calculator. This was an extreme measure, but I wanted to be certain that my research did not leave anything to chance. These extreme measures were the result of the phobia installed in me by the organization for any other source except itself. Thus, with all these details the months were passing by, and although I was reading many hours everyday, I had not yet finished the book.
I had almost reached the end of the book, which analyzed seven different series of proofs from different unrelated sources. All the calculations were correct and it seemed that the Swede was right. I had read all the proofs in all series except the last one and up to this point I was a steady critic. I checked every quotation referring to the books of the organization to make sure that he was writing the truth. I looked up every scriptural verse and then I searched in the ‘index’ of the organization to see how each verse was interpreted, and this in all the publications designated by the ‘index.’ I did not want to take any chance of losing the truth, whatever this was. Furthermore, I was praying fervently to God to grant me the knowledge, and he being rich to all those seeking, compensated me richly, regardless if I were not seeking the most appropriate gift.
Up to this point of the book, even though I was seeing that everything was correct, I used my mind to think even the most improbable assumptions, so I would not be lead astray and have all my effort be in vain. For example, I assumed what if the Devil interfered and ‘packaged together’ all these archeological proofs, for deceiving the ‘witnesses’! However, when I reached the last series of proofs, I was totally flabbergasted. In this series there were proofs from Holy Scripture itself!
This was the opportune time to check the index with the ‘question mark’, which I
had saved in the Holy Scripture from my previous search. Yes! I was right! My
search agreed with Johnson, with the historians and mainly with the Holy
Scripture! Strangely enough, only the dogma of the organization did not fit
anywhere! This was the end of my unbelief. The same year for the desolation of
Jerusalem, supported by historians, could be extracted undoubtedly and
effortlessly from within the Holy Scripture: the year 587 B.C., and not 607 as
supported by the organization.
What surprised me more than anything were the verses of Zacharias (1:7-12) and (7:1-5) [*]
There, calculating based on year 521/520 (a date accepted even by the organization to be the year of Darius’ enthronement) I found when these words of Zachariah had been written. Consequently, going back seventy years according to the verses, I was finding 589 B.C. to be the year of the siege and 587 B.C. as the year of Jerusalems desolation (Jeremiah 21/2, 4-7; Jeremiah 41/1-3, 10. 52/12, 13; B Kings 25, 8-9, 22-25; Book: “All scripture is God-inspired and beneficial” page 169, paragraph 3). What added to my astonishment however, was also the fact that even the verses used by the organization to support its views, with a careful analysis, supported the view of the historians. I called George on the phone and I announced to him that I am now certain that 1914 is the wrong date.
So now I was ready to mention this to my family members. After work, I returned home and with much impatience I announced to my wife that after many months of research I was now certain that the dogma of 1914 is wrong. But while expecting her to share my interest in the truth, she turned red, wild, her eyes became like glass and began to howl: (amongst many other things) “You are an apostate! I will turn you in to the ‘presbyters’!” my son was still very young so he could not have a clear sense of everything going on.
I was seeing that Roula was divided. On the one hand her identity as a member of the organization compelled her to turn me in as an apostate; on the other hand she hesitated because I was her husband. Finally, I offered to help her out of this difficult dilemma.
I told her, “Listen! I was expecting you to be supportive of the results of my research. But since you look at it this way, I will go to the ‘presbyters’ myself. The truth has nothing to fear.”
Therefore, I quickly went to Vlasis, a ‘presbyter’ of the nearby congregation, whom I especially loved and respected; he had helped me when I was trying to marry Roula. Actually, I needed to go to a ‘presbyter’ of my own congregation, but I did not trust them for something this dangerous. In a few words, I explained to him the recent developments and what had happened with my wife’s explosion.
He asked me two things: if I still believe that our religion is “the organization of God,” and if I simply doubted or if I was certain that this central dogma of ours is wrong. For the first, I answered him that I still have faith in the organization and how I’m simply waiting to see when it will announce the change. For the second, I told him I was absolutely sure, and I added: “now if you know something different concerning this, which I may not be aware of, I will be happy to correct my mistake.”
His response took me by surprise:
“Listen Nikos! I have trusted this organization to pass me through Armageddon and I will stay here until it does so. I don’t want to learn about the arguments that convinced you because then I will have a conflict with my conscience. If you are actually correct about this then I must conform to what I learn, so I don’t want to risk it.”
“My advice is to forget about what you learned and to play the game; those who are now in charge of Bethel (Roulis and his gang) will cut you off immediately. If you agree not to discuss this anywhere, I will also keep my mouth shut.’
“Let’s wait for the ‘Organization of God’ to tell us if things are truly this way. The changes it has made over the years is proof that if you are right, it will also make this change. The only thing is you must avoid all contact with the apostates.”
I agreed that it seemed better for me to wait for the organization and I would keep this secret for myself. Yet, I did not tell him that I would suspend communications with the apostates, or that I would forget what I read. I left him with the idea that I had accepted these last two, like the others. To not wish to learn the truth was his business. But for me to stop searching was something totally impossible. The organization itself has taught me to call upon others to be open-minded and to search. I would be insincere with my beliefs if I would cease my contact with the ‘apostates’ since they were correct at least about their first dogma that I studied. With this logic one should not listen to us ‘the witnesses’, being that we were apostates to other religions. Even if some doctrine of whichever religion was proven wrong, anyone could claim that his religion is the true one, regardless if it keeps making mistakes, since it would correct them sometime in the future! With this mindset my effort to convince others that my religion was the true would be futile, once we assume that the true dogma does not matter. It was not possible for me to be this nonsensical! Especially since I was coming to the realization that more and more of the doctrines of our faith were based on the dogma of 1914, which was definitely wrong. I needed to learn all the consequences that the dismissal of this dogma would bring upon every facet of my faith.
The position of Vlasis was satisfactory for the understanding he showed towards my problem, but on the other hand his outlook towards my research had saddened me. He took me by surprise, because he had taught me to search in-depth and examine minutely subtle details of the Holy Scripture. He showed that he loved the truth, and now he was refusing to search such an important subject for the fear that it might be wrong. In other words, he was like the driver who does not want to look at the map, out of fear that he may have taken the wrong road!
I returned to my house and told my wife about our discussion. She was relieved, seeing that for the time being there was no imminent danger for my dis-fellowship or apostasy.
* For the quotations referred to verses of the Old Testament I mainly utilized the Masoretic Hebrew text translated by Archim Neophytos Vamvoa since this was the official text of the Jehovah’s Witnesses during the unfolding of the events described in this book