A Lawyer Examines Jehovah’s Witnesses
“MY KNOWLEDGE of Jehovah’s Witnesses was very limited,” says Les Civin, an attorney and a director of a law firm in South Africa. Why did he look into the beliefs of the Witnesses? What did he conclude about those beliefs? Here is what he told Awake!
What was your religious background?
I am from a Jewish background, but in the early 1970’s, I married Carol, who was Anglican. She had no interest in religion, and religion had no effect on our lives at the time. However, when our son, Andrew, was eight years old, Carol felt that we should do something to give him some form of religion. A rabbi told me that if Carol converted to Judaism, Andrew would automatically become Jewish and could have a Bar Mitzvah when he turned 13. So we started attending weekly conversion classes at the synagogue.
How did you come into contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses?
When the Witnesses came to our door, I always cut them short. “I am Jewish and do not believe in the New Testament,” I would say. Then Carol told me that one of her friends was a Witness and that she knew the Bible very well. Carol suggested that we learn a little more about the Bible. So I reluctantly agreed to study with the Witnesses.
How did you respond to the Bible study?
I was very condescending. I had rediscovered my Jewish spiritual values and felt that I was of the chosen race. ‘What can these people teach me?’ I thought. During our first discussion, I told the Witness who came to our home: “I was born a Jew. I have found my religion, and I will die a Jew. Nothing you can say will make me change.” He kindly acknowledged my stance. So, on Friday and Monday nights, we attended Jewish conversion classes and on Sunday mornings (if I could not get out of it) we studied with the Witnesses. Their study, incidentally, was free of charge, unlike the classes at the synagogue.
I used my Jewish Bible because I thought that the Witnesses used a translation that suited their views. However, I was surprised at how much the two Bibles harmonized. This made me even more determined to prove that the Witnesses did not know what they were talking about.
After attending a few of the rabbi’s studies, Carol told me that in her opinion the rabbi did not know his Bible well enough. She informed me that she was going to stop attending the classes and that she would not renounce Christ. Devastated, I thought about ending our marriage. When the shock wore off, however, I decided on a different strategy—I would use my legal background to prove to Carol that this ‘crackpot sect’ was wrong.
Did you succeed?
A rabbi gave me a book that was written to refute Messianic prophecies. For 18 months Carol and I studied that book together. We also continued our weekly study with the Witnesses. However, as we examined each prophecy discussed in the rabbi’s book, my uneasiness grew. Contrary to the argumentation in the book, the Messianic prophecies in the Bible consistently pointed to just one person—Jesus Christ. The matter finally came to a head when we studied the prophecy found at Daniel 9:24-27, which foretold that the Messiah would appear in the year 29 C.E. * The Witness produced an interlinear Hebrew Bible with the literal English translation under each word. I checked the wording, did my own calculation of the chronology, and said: “OK, the prophecy points to 29 C.E. So what?”
“That was the year Jesus was baptized,” said the Witness.
I was stunned! I was also amazed at how accurate Bible prophecies are and how well they knit together.
How did your friends react to your change in views?
Some were deeply concerned and promised to introduce my wife and me to people who could show us that we were being brainwashed. But our convictions were based on thorough research and logical reasoning—the very opposite of brainwashing.
What made you decide to become a Witness?
At first, I began to attend a few meetings at the Kingdom Hall with my wife, who by then had become a Witness. * I was impressed by the friendliness of the Witnesses and their love for one another, regardless of race. I had not seen this in my own faith. So after about three years of further study, I was baptized.
How do you feel about your decision to become a Witness?
It is an honor to be able to say, “I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” But when I reflect on how I fought the truth, I feel that I do not deserve the spiritual treasures Jehovah has given me. My decision is one that I shall never regret.
What blessings have you enjoyed?
Many. For one thing, I cherish the privilege of serving as an elder, or spiritual shepherd and teacher, in our local congregation. Also, I have been able to assist the Legal Department at the South Africa branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But the greatest blessing is, without a doubt, knowing Jehovah and his Son and understanding the real significance of our times and the momentous events rocking the world.
^ par. 12 C.E. means “Common Era.” For a discussion of Daniel’s prophecy about the Messiah, see page 197 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach?
^ par. 18 Carol died in 1994, and Les Civin has since remarried.
[Blurb on page 11]
I was . . . amazed at how accurate Bible prophecies are and how well they knit together