AUTHOR:        Jerry Bergman Ph.D.
PAGES:            70 Pages.  
COVER:           Softcover.
EDITION:         1998.
CONDITION:   Brand New with slight exterior S/H blemishes.


Webster's Dictionary defines a "lie" very simply as a statement which the maker knows to be false, or a statement which the maker knows will give a false impression.

However, the WatchTower Society has provided Jehovah's Witnesses with a much more complex definition of a "lie". The WatchTower encyclopedia states:

Lying generally involves saying something false to a person who is entitled to know the truth and doing so with the intent to deceive or to injure him or another person. -- INSIGHT ON THE SCRIPTURES, Volume 2, Page 244.

That WatchTower encyclopedia article also cites certain Biblical situations where it erroneously implies that the Bible teaches that lies and deceit are appropriate when such allow God's people to escape trouble from their enemies. Conspicuously absent from their misconstrued examples is the incident when the apostle Peter denied Jesus Christ three times in order to avoid suffering the same fate as Christ. If Peter had been a Jehovah's Witness, he not only would have NOT thereafter "wept bitterly", but rather he would have been extremely proud of himself, even boasting of how he had outwitted those who had meant him harm.

The WatchTower Society teaches Jehovah's Witnesses that if a given person is "not entitled" to be told the truth, JWs can tell that person a pure falsehood. Or, the JW can tell a half-truth which gives the person a false impression. In either case, the Jehovah's Witness does so with a clear conscience.

The WatchTower definition even permits a lie to be told to a person whom a JW deems "entitled" to be told the truth, so long as the lie is not intended to "injure" someone.

Who determines if and when someone is "entitled" to be told the truth?  Who determines whether the lie will cause "injury"?   Each Jehovah's Witness makes those decisions themselves. When applied to real life situations, the room for abuse is obvious.

However, the full significance of this WatchTower teaching is not understood unless you also understand the WatchTower's Theocratic War Doctrine. What is that?

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that a "theocratic war" of sorts is currently going on between God's forces and Satan's forces. JWs believe that they are the only people on earth who are on God's side, which means that every other person and every other societal institution is on Satan's side, thus an enemy of the JWs and the WatchTower Society.

The ramifications of combining these two religious teachings should be obvious. Any JW, at any time, can intentionally lie to any non-JW, and they do so without a twinge of conscience. Ironically, JWs become so accustomed to the irrational thinking that they even use it against each other by [ir]rationalizing that the other JW is not entitled to know whatever is at issue.

Dr. Bergman's book discusses this phenomenon, but particularly how such impacts those who have the misfortune to clash with JWs in the judicial system.

Watchtower April 15, 1957


In time of war great effort is made to keep one's movements or plans from the enemy. To keep the enemy in the dark and divert him from gaining knowledge, war strategy is used. Soldiers for Christ in dealing with enemies of God, who hate truth and want to stop others from learning it, wisely use theocratic war strategy, not to hurt or harm, but to keep the "wolves" from hindering efforts to aid sheeplike people who are hungering for knowledge of truth and righteousness. On meeting "wolves" Christians will use strategy, being wise as serpents yet innocent as doves, in accord with Jesus' direction at Matthew 10:16. 

May 1, 1957

Use Theocratic War Strategy Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY

Use Theocratic War Strategy

A WITNESS of Jehovah was going from house to house in Eastern Germany when she met a violent opposer. Knowing at once what to expect she changed her red blouse for a green one in the very next hallway. No sooner had she appeared on the street than a Communist officer asked her if she had seen a woman with a red blouse. No, she replied, and went on her way. Did she tell a lie? No, she did not. She was not a liar. Rather, she was using theocratic war strategy, hiding the truth by action and word for the sake of the ministry.

In this she had good Scriptural precedent. Did not Rahab hide the Israelite spies by both action and word? Did not Abraham, Isaac, David and others likewise hide the truth at times when faced with a hostile enemy? They certainly did, and never do we read a word of censure for their doing so. Rather, we read of their being termed exemplary servants of Jehovah. Their actions were in line with Jesus' wise counsel: "Look! I am sending you forth as sheep amidst wolves; therefore prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves. -- Matt. 10:16, NW.*

Perhaps some will wonder as to where the line is to be drawn between use of theocratic war strategy in hiding the truth and the telling of lies. First of all, let it be noted that whenever one takes an oath to tell the truth he is obligated to do so. By dedicating himself to do God's will each Christian has taken a vow or made an oath to do God's will and to be faithful to him. To this oath he certainly must be true. Likewise, when a Christian is placed on a witness stand he is obligated to speak the truth if he speaks at all. At times he may prefer to refuse to speak and suffer the consequences rather than betray his brothers or the interests of God's work. And, of course, there is no occasion for use of war strategy when dealing with our Christian brothers. In dealing with them we tell the truth or tactfully remind them that what they seek to know does not concern them.

Lies are untruths told for selfish reasons and which work injury to others. Satan told a lie to Eve that worked great harm to her and all the human race. Ananias and Sapphira told lies for selfish reasons. But hiding the truth, which he is not entitled to know, from an enemy does not harm him, especially when he would use such information to harm others who are innocent.

A great work is being done by the witnesses even in lands where their activity is banned. The only way they can fulfill the command to preach the good news of God's kingdom is by use of theocratic war strategy. By underground methods the literature is brought into the country and distributed. Would it make sense to hide this literature by one's actions and then reveal its whereabouts by one's words when queried? Of course not! So in time of spiritual warfare it is proper to misdirect the enemy by hiding the truth. It is done unselfishly; it does not harm anyone; on the contrary, it does much good.

Today God's servants are engaged in a warfare, a spiritual, theocratic warfare, a warfare ordered by God against wicked spirit forces and against false teachings. God's servants are sent forth as sheep among wolves and therefore need to exercise the extreme caution of serpents so as to protect properly the interests of God's kingdom committed to them. At all times they must be very careful not to divulge any information to the enemy that he could use to hamper the preaching work.


For details see The Watchtower, February 1, 1956.

Using biblical examples such as Rahab and Abraham, both of whom lied, provides no support for being dishonest in support of the Watchtower organization. Rahab, Abraham, and every other Bible character (except Jesus) were sinners. The fact that they were depicted as lying does not mean that lying is an appropriate act for Christians. Some passages in the Bible are merely narrative; they are descriptive, not prescriptive. That is to say, they describe what happened, not what we should do. We are told in the Bible that Jesus got up early in the morning to pray (Mark 1:35), but that hardly implies that all Christians need to get up early to pray. Praying is commanded; the time at which we do so is not. The passage is not a command, but a narrative. However, there are commands in the Bible to be honest and not to lie. Clearly, Rahab and Abraham violated those commands. While they are never explicitly condemned for doing so, neither are they commended. Rahab is commended later in Scripture for hiding the spies (Hebrews 11:31), not specifically for lying. That God can make good come out of our sin does not mean that He approves the sin.

The way that "theocratic war strategy" usually plays out today in practice is for the JW to try to find ways of wording things -- without actually telling a falsehood -- that may be technically correct, but give a false impression that makes the organization look better than the absolute truth would. For example, if you ask a Witness at your door whether he believes that anyone who does not belong to their organization will be destroyed at Armageddon, he may well deny it, even though that is exactly what they believe. He will rationalize his answer in his mind by reasoning that many people who are not now part of the organization will come into it before Armageddon comes, and therefore, those people, who are not now part of the organization, will be saved through Armageddon. Or if, for example, you ask them whether they believe that all other Christian religions are actually false religions and that their members are false Christians, some may answer honestly (again, the answer is yes), but others may try to dance a bit and offer a "softer" answer.

There have been more blatant examples of higher-level Witnesses lying outright to protect the organization from accusations of condoning child abuse, letting children die without blood transfusions, shunning ex-members, and so on. But you aren't as likely to encounter that sort of thing from the rank and file, except when they have heard it from the leadership and swallowed it whole. ...

The simplest answer to dealing with the use of theocratic war strategy is probably to think critically and be as informed as you can about the beliefs and practices of the Witnesses. If they say something that seems out of line with what you know about their beliefs, ask for clarification. Don't be afraid to throw some tough questions at them in order to draw out their real meaning.

Tom McGovern

Questions From Readers

From time to time letters are received asking whether a certain circumstance would justify making an exception to the Christian's obligation to tell the truth. In reply to these the following is given:

God's Word commands: "Speak truth each of you with his neighbor." (Eph. 4:25) This command, however, does not mean that we should tell everyone who asks us all he wants to know. We must tell the truth to one who is entitled to know, but if one is not so entitled we may be evasive. But we may not tell a falsehood.

Thus a sister should tell the truth about her age for the purpose of having correct information on her publisher's record card, as that comes under the purvue of right to know. Fear to do so is a sign of vanity and immaturity. Nor may this particular information be kept from a prospective mate if that one thinks it important enough to ask. Such a one would also have a right to know. So it would depend upon the circumstances whether one may be evasive about one's age or not.

The same principle applies in the case of a patient suffering from some incurable disease. He has the right to know the verdict of a medical examination as to his life prospects. He may not be denied the knowledge that is so vital to him -- just how precious his days are to him by reason of their being so few. It does not make for trust, understanding and love to deceive such a one, and the one practicing the deception will be continually plagued by a guilty conscience. If the patient is dedicated to Jehovah he certainly will appreciate that his times are in God's hands and therefore will not have a morbid fear of dying but will strengthen himself in the resurrection hope. Some who withheld such information, intending kindness, afterward found that it had been a mistaken kindness.

There is, of course, a right time and manner for divulging such information. The time should be opportune and the manner sympathetic yet not unduly sorrowful. It may not be amiss to observe that one may be hopeful about his condition in spite of such a prognosis, since medical knowledge is not infallible today. Love, wisdom and self-control will enable one to broach the subject properly and the result can be a far greater bond of affection than existed previously. At such a time the resurrection hope, the blessings already enjoyed as a member of the New World society as well as those that still lie ahead might also be mentioned.

What about telling a prospective mate the unfavorable truth about one's past, such as before one became one of Jehovah's witnesses? If the subject comes up and one is asked, the rule would apply that the truth should be told as the other has a right to know. If one is not asked, then it would be up to one's discretion and conscience. However, if it appeared that the information was vital to the other, and the other did not ask simply because he did not think such a thing likely, then the information should be volunteered, trusting in love and understanding to cover over the matter. If there is to be any disillusionment, certainly it is far better that it take place before marriage than afterward. Here the well-known principle stated by Jesus would apply: "All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them; this, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean." -- Matt. 7:12.

There is one exception, however, that the Christian must ever bear in mind. As a soldier of Christ he is in theocratic warfare and he must exercise added caution when dealing with God's foes. Thus the Scriptures show that for the purpose of protecting the interests of God's cause, it is proper to hide the truth from God's enemies. A Scriptural example of this is that of Rahab the harlot. She hid the Israelite spies because of her faith in their God Jehovah. This she did both by her actions and by her lips. That she had Jehovah's approval in doing so is seen from James' commendation of her faith. -- Josh. 2:4, 5; Jas. 2:25.

This would come under the term "war strategy", as explained in The Watchtower, February 1, 1956, and is in keeping with Jesus' counsel that when among wolves we must be as "cautious as serpents." Should circumstances require a Christian to take the witness stand and swear to tell the truth, then, if he speaks at all, he must utter the truth. When faced with the alternative of speaking and betraying his brothers or not speaking and being held in contempt of court, the mature Christian will put the welfare of his brothers ahead of his own, remembering Jesus' words: "No one has greater love than this, that someone should surrender his [life] in behalf of his friends." -- Matt. 10:16; John 15:13.

Watchtower June 1, 1960

February 1,1956

13 Whether in Egypt or in Palestine, Abraham was in enemy territory and needed to exercise caution. He wanted to live to carry out God's purpose toward him. He saw good to use strategy toward those who might be provoked to injure or kill him in Jehovah's service. ...

15 But critics do not view it that way. They view Abraham wholly as a lying, prevaricating, weakling coward, and not a cautious strategist in an enemy land filled with wolves. ...

16 Following his father Abraham's example, Isaac likewise spoke of his wife Rebekah as his sister to the men of the same city of Gerar. ...

17 We may view Isaac's handling of matters with his wife Rebekah from the same standpoint as that of Abraham with Sarah. Abraham and Isaac may have had a fear, but they did not in fear make an ungodly alliance with pagan kings for self-protection. ... Jehovah always delivered Abraham and Isaac because they shunned the world.

18 Rahab the harlot innkeeper of Jericho generally comes in for condemnation as a deceiver. She took the two spies from the nearby camp of Israel into her house, because she feared their God Jehovah. When the king of Jericho sent men and demanded that she bring out the two spies, should she have led the king's officers up to the rooftop and brushed away the stalks of flax laid in rows over the men, thus exposing their concealment and thus handing them over to suffer the fate of spies? Would that have been trusting in their God to protect them? Would that have pleased Jehovah and shown she had faith in him and had adopted his cause? Did it not require strength of faith in Jehovah to refuse the king's demand and to turn his officers away with a misdirection? She said: "Yes, the men did come to me and I did not know from where they were. And it came about at the closing of the gate by dark that the men went out. I just do not know where the men have gone. Chase after them quickly, for you will overtake them." Was she immorally lying there?

19 Remember that there was war then. The enemies did not deserve to learn the truth to the hurt or endangerment of Jehovah's servants. In wartime it is proper to misdirect the wolfish enemy. While the king's misdirected men were gone in a vain pursuit, Rahab helped the two spies to escape over the city wall. God's Word commends her action as the practical proof of her faith: "In the same manner was not also Rahab the harlot declared righteous by works, after she had received the messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way?" So the lives of Rahab and her relatives were spared when Jericho's walls were tumbled down and all the other cityfolk were wiped out. David, the killer of the Philistine giant Goliath, was cautious as a serpent toward the wolfish King Saul and others. David withdrew from the jealous, murder-minded King Saul in time of danger, never once trying to strike back to Saul's injury. Seeing that Saul had declared war on innocent David, David's friends used war strategy to protect him. Saul's daughter Michal helped her husband David escape through a window. She held back Saul's officers with the announcement, "He is sick." She substituted an image for David in his bed and, when the bed with the image was carried to King Saul and Michal's work for David's escape was exposed, she said to her indignant father: "He himself said to me, "Send me away! Why should I put you to death?" King Saul called it deceptive trickery. It was in effect war strategy for protecting the innocent. Michal's brother Jonathan, who loved David, also used strategy to throw his insanely jealous father off David's track. David, in flight, came to the high priest Ahimelech at Nob. When asked why he came alone, David concealed his movements, saying: "The king himself commanded me as to a matter, and he went on to say to me, "Let no one know anything at all of the matter concerning which I am sending you and concerning which I have commanded you." ...This protected the high priest from feeling under any pressure to betray David's whereabouts to King Saul. Doeg the Edomite, Saul's chief shepherd, was there at the time. When he reported it to Saul, Doeg was rewarded by Saul with the order to kill the high priest and eighty-four of his underpriests. God rewarded Doeg differently. He inspired David to compose David took refuge in the land of Philistia with Achish the king of Gath. When the Philistines discovered who he was and suggested to the king that David was a security risk, David became afraid of wolves. "So he disguised his sanity under their eyes and began acting insane in their hand and kept making cross marks on the doors of the gate and let his saliva run down upon his beard." King Achish refused to have him around and let him go with his life like a harmless idiot. Thus David was able to get out alive and to the cave of Adullam. However much his pretended insanity before King Achish worked toward his escape, yet David was inspired to write Psalm 34and thank Jehovah for blessing his strategy and giving him deliverance from King Achish. In ll waters of his new world.





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