Are you currently a Jehovah’s Witness or someone studying with the Witnesses and considering being baptized? Maybe you are a non-Witness family member who wants to get more background about the religion. Or are you an ex-JW wanting more information to support a decision to remain outside of the Watchtower organization?
Here are five great books that we can easily recommend that are available through local bookstores and Amazon.com. We feel that these books are educational and informative about the Witness religion and history, but do not present the facts in an angry or totally negative manner.
In our order of preference [click on book title for more information]:
- Crisis of Conscience – Raymond Franz; Commentary Press, 4th Edition (2002): Raymond Franz paid a heavy price after more than forty years of faithful service as a missionary and Bethel family member – and finally as a member of the Watchtower Governing Body. His tone is not harsh and he does not try to pick apart every teaching or belief that the Witnesses preach. His account of the final ten years of his service exposes the hypocrisy and politics that went on at the Watchtower Headquarters. If you read only one book, be sure this is it.
- Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah’s Witnesses – James Penton; University of Toronto Press, 2nd Edition (1997): In this second edition, an afterword by the author brings us up to date on events since this book was first published in 1985. Penton considers changes in doctrine, practice, and governance on issues such as medical treatment, higher education, apostates, and the apocalypse. As a former member, Penton offers a comprehensive overview of a remarkable religious movement. The book is divided into three parts, each presenting the Witnesses’ story in a different context: historical, doctrinal, and sociological.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses: Their Claims, Doctrinal Changes, and Prophetic Speculation. What Does the Record Show? – Edmund Gruss; Xulon Press (2001): One of the best documented and most devastating critiques of the Watchtower ever written. This book contains thousands of quotes from official Watchtower sources that prove the Watchtower made scores of totally false predictions. Considered by some reviewers as the most definitive work ever published on the Watchtower’s many false predictions.
- Growing Up in Mama’s Club: “Revised and Expanded Third Edition” – Richard E. Kelly; Richard Kelly (2008): A very accurate and moving account of Kelly’s life as a child growing up in a Jehovah’s Witness family. His book is more of an autobiography than a critique of any particular religious belief. The story begins in the late 1940s and ends in the early 1960s. Unfortunately, as bad as things were at times for young Kelly, things have not changed for the better since then for most Witness children. The book is an easy and enjoyable read, but you will at times be shocked when Kelly reveals what his life as a JW child was really like. His “behind the scenes” anecdotes will make it very hard to put this book down once you start reading it.
- Awakening of a Jehovah’s Witness: Escape from the Watchtower Society – Diane Wilson; Prometheus Books (2002): Only someone who has lived as a baptized Jehovah’s Witness can fully understand what is it like to be a dedicated member, or trapped because the spouse is a member, and why leaving will mean the loss of one’s family. Diane Wilson’s account will give the reader an honest and accurate feel for what it is like to live as a Witness. Outsiders often have a hard time accepting the reality of what it is like living under the control of the Watchtower Society.