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Hello. Welcome to beautiful Hilton Head where I’m staying by the hospitality of a good friend, and I just wanted to share something with you on this occasion, since I’m rested, it’s beautiful where I am, and there’s lots to talk about.
My name’s Eric Wilson. You would know that if you watched the other videos. We’ve had a series of some 12 videos now, identifying true worship, and while there are other things to talk about regarding doctrine, I’m going to leave that for now because there are, I think, very important things to discuss.
You know me as Eric Wilson because of those videos, but if you followed the links, you’ll also know that my name, or the name I go under—an alias really—is Meleti Vivlon, which is a Greek transliteration meaning “Bible study”…well, “study Bible” actually. I reversed the names, because Vivlon seemed more like a surname and Meleti, more like a given name. But I chose it because the purpose at the time was merely to study the Bible. It has become much more since then. Things I could not have foreseen. Anyway, the question is: Why after, basically, nine years almost did I come out of the theological closet, did I reveal that Meleti Vivlon is Eric Wilson?
Those who aren’t familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses and are watching this video might say, “Why do you even need an alias? Why couldn’t you have used your own name?”
Well, there’re reasons for all of that and I’d like to explain them.
The truth is that when a Jehovah’s Witness is faced with someone like me, who is willing to talk about the Bible and demands scriptural proof for doctrine, they can get very upset. When i launched my first videos, a very good friend of mine—a man really with the genius-level intellect, a man given to logic—reviewed them and got very upset with me. He admitted that some of the things I’d said he already had agreed were true but he still had to break off; he had to break off a friendship that had endured for close to 25 years. And you might wonder why. Why would he do that and what would be the grounds for doing that? Well, he found a scripture in Psalm 26:4 that reads: “I do not associate with deceitful men and I avoid those who hide what they are.”
So, he was thinking, ‘Oh, you’ve hidden who you are for many years!’
This is something Jehovah’s Witnesses do. If you cannot defeat a teaching, you have two choices: Accept that you are wrong…but that is a big thing because it means abandoning your entire worldview. Jehovah’s Witnesses view themselves as those who will be saved when Armageddon comes. All the rest will be destroyed. I remember one time standing on the second level of a mall looking down at the lower level, because it was an atrium style mall—this was back in my 20s—and thinking that all the people I was looking at—of course this was pre-1975—would be dead in just a few years. Now if you tell that to someone who isn’t a witness, they’d think that’s madness. What a strange way to look at the world. And yet I was brought up thinking that myself, my friends, that close group of people I associated with, the worldwide Association of brothers, would be the only survivors in a world of billions of people. So this affects your thinking. Now to reach a point where you have to suddenly say maybe I was wrong, is not abandoning simply a doctrine or a point of view about some Bible interpretation. You’re abandoning your life, your worldview, everything that you hold dear. You’re throwing everything you’ve done your whole life out the window. People don’t do that easily. Some people don’t do it at all.
So how do you justify it when you can’t disprove the person who is saying, “This doctrine is false”? What do you do? Well, you have to discredit the person. Hence, the scripture. You look up a word like “hide”, find something that fits and apply it. Of course, if you read the context…Psalm 26:3-5 says, “For your loyal love is always in front of me, and I walk in your truth. I do not associate with deceitful men. [In other words, men who aren’t truthful.] and I avoid those who hide what they are. [But what are they hiding? They’re hiding their deceit.] I hate the company of evil men, and I refuse to associate with the wicked.”
So does hiding what you are make you wicked? Or being wicked, do you automatically hide what you are? Well, obviously, a wicked person hides their wickedness. They don’t want to broadcast that. But what if you’re not wicked? Is there reason to hide?
This Psalm was written by King David. King David hid what he was on one occasion. If we go to the Insight book volume 2, page 291, (and I’m going to read this):
“On one occasion, while he was outlawed by King Saul, David sought refuge with Achish the king of Gath. Upon discovering who he was, the Philistines suggested to Achish that David was a security risk, and David became afraid. Consequently, he disguised his sanity by acting insane. He “kept making cross marks on the doors of the gate and let his saliva run down upon his beard.” Thinking David was crazy, Achish let him go with his life, as a harmless idiot. David was later inspired to write Psalm 34, in which he thanked Jehovah for blessing this strategy and delivering him.” (it-2 p. 291 “Madness”)
Obviously, Jehovah wouldn’t bless something that was wrong. Yet he blessed David when he hid his true identity and pretended to be something he was not. Jesus likewise on one occasion, for sure, hid his identity, because they were seeking to kill him, and it was not yet his time. (John 7:10) But those who don’t want to accept what we have to say will refuse to consider the context. They’ll stick with the one scripture.
When I was a Witness and would teach Catholics mainly, because I was in South America a good time, I would often use the scripture in Matthew 10:34 this says, (Jesus speaking),
“Do not think I came to bring peace to the earth; I came to bring, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” (Mt 10:34-36)
That applied to all other religions [, to persons] who became Witnesses. I never thought it would apply to me, or to my faith as a Witness. But I see now that it does. You see, back in those days—I’m talking the 60s and 70s—it was a different organization. For example, in the 50s and 60s, an hour talk was free form. You were given a theme—’God’s love’, ‘the quality of mercy’, something like that—and you had to research it and come up with your own talk. They did away with that when they came up with outlines and demanded us to stick close to the outline.
Instruction talks for many decades weren’t preformed talks. You had 15 minutes to talk about one part of the Bible, pretty much as you wished. There were Bible highlights; same thing! The Book Study arrangement allowed a brother—maybe a single elder with or maybe two elders with a small group of 12 to 15 people—to discuss the Bible openly and freely in a family-like atmosphere. They cut that. Out of all the meetings that they could have cut out, I would never have guessed the Book Study would be the first to go, because we always said the Book Study is the one meeting which will last when there’s persecution and the halls are taken away. We’ll have the Book Study. And yet, that’s the one meeting they took away.
Local needs parts…you could do pretty much anything you wanted. As a matter of fact, there was a time that the elders could actually not do certain parts that were in The Kingdom Ministry if they felt there was a local need. They could rewrite The Kingdom Ministry. We did this on more than one occasion.
Now, everything is tightly scripted, even the Bible highlights—tightly scripted. So, things have changed.
Someone recently woke up and contacted me, and I asked them what made you wake up. He was serving where the need was great, and he was learning another language, and because he was learning another language, he didn’t get anything out of the meetings. In other words, he wasn’t being indoctrinated week after week, and he began to think about things, and he woke up.
So, this indoctrination goes hand in hand with this constant beating of the drum about obedience, obedience, obedience to men. If you told me fifty years ago that my life depended on being obedient to Nathan Knorr or Fred Franz or anybody in the Society, I would have said, “No way! My life depends on obedience to God.”
But now it depends on obedience to the Governing Body. Things have changed. When you think about the Catholic Church, they have the Pope. He’s the victor of Christ. He speaks for Christ.
When you think about televangelists, they talk about talking to Christ. They say Jesus talked to me.
The head of the Mormon Church is the channel that God uses to speak to Mormons on earth.
The Governing Body by their own declaration is the channel that God used to speak to Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“By word or action, may we never challenge the channel of communication that Jehovah is using today….On the contrary, we should cherish our privilege to cooperate with the slave class. [since 2012, the slave class consists of the members of the Governing Body.]
Every single religion has somebody who claims to speak for God, to God, or have God speak to them. But really, in the Bible, it’s only Christ. He’s our head, and he speaks to all of us through his word and this is perhaps one of the biggest things that causes people to wake up. The realization that men are substituting for Christ.
So, here’s a little bit of my history. Not too much. I’m not going to bore you, but since I am presuming to talk to you, it’s only fair you know a little bit about me.
So, I went to Colombia when I was 19; began to preach there. I made “the truth my own”, as they say in that time. Began to pioneer. Had an opportunity to speak to many, many people over the years, mostly Catholics at this is a Catholic country. And it became very adapt at using the Bible to disprove the Trinity, Hellfire, the immortality of the human soul, idolatry, you name it—all of those things. And because of that, I felt very sure that I had the truth, because I always won any discussion using the Bible. At the same time, I didn’t look to men. I didn’t have role models in the congregation. There was one occasion in 1972 when they came up with a new understanding of Matthew 24:22 applying it to the first century that’s where it says that the days were cut short on account of the chosen ones and the application made was that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE was cut short. Some 60 to 70 thousand survived, and that was on account of the chosen ones, and I thought but they weren’t there so it didn’t make sense. I wrote in to Brooklyn and got a letter back which tried to explain it and made less sense and my conclusion was somebody doesn’t know what they’re talking about, but they’ll fix it at some point in time, so I just put it on the shelf. Twenty five years, later they came up with a new understanding. But you see, if you can figure out that something’s wrong and it takes them 25 years to fix it, it’s hard to esteem these men as being the chosen of God and God speaking through them. You realize they’re just men like you, so when somebody starts coming along and saying, “No, no, we are the faithful and discreet slave and God speaks to us”, alarm bells go off, because all your life you’ve realized that’s not the case. You’ve seen far too many changes, far too many doctrines abandoned, far too many flip-flops like the Sodom and Gomorrah. (Whether they’re resurrected or not…we have flipped and flopped on that eight times.) You know that when truth is revealed progressively, it means progressively. It doesn’t mean on and off and on and off and on and off and on and off—eight times. So you realize that something’s wrong, and I’ve come to realize that when they apply Proverbs (I’m going from memory here.) 18:4 [actually 4:18] about ‘the way of the righteous is like the light getting brighter’, well, the context indicates that’s referring to life—the way you live your life; not the revelation of prophecy. Really, the scripture that applies in my estimation, based on my lifetime of experience, is the next verse which says that ‘the way of the wicked is not like this, they do not know over what they trip’.
And that certainly seems to be the case. So anyways, I came back from Colombia seven years later, joined the Spanish congregation, was there for 16 years, saw it grow from one congregation to thirteen in Toronto and several more in the province. There was only one in the whole province in 1976 and that’s where I met my wife. We went to Ecuador for two years, had a wonderful time, worked some work with the branch there. Lovely branch overseer—Harley Harris and Cloris—I esteemed them very much. They were to make true Christians and the branch reflected their qualities. It was one of the nicest branches of the three I’ve ever known. (Certainly, the most Christian-like branch I’ve ever known.) Came back in 92. We had to take care of my mother-in-law for nine years, because she was old and required constant care. So, we were pretty much bound to stay in one place, and I was in the English congregation for the first time as an adult, which was quite a change for me.
And so many strange things…but again I would always put it down to the failings of men. Just to give you one example: I don’t want to name names, but there was one elder that we had to remove for causing problems but he happened to have a friend who used to be a roommate when in Bethel, and this friend now had been raised to a high position in Bethel, so he called on him and a special committee was sent to review our findings—findings which we had in writing. We had proof in writing that he had lied, not just misrepresented another brother, but lied, and so he slandered another brother, and yet they disregarded these findings. The brother who he slandered was told that if he wanted to remain an elder—he was in another circuit—he couldn’t come and give testimony. And the brothers who were on the committee told me and the other brothers with me that Bethel believed that the brother bringing the charges was on a vendetta.
And the next morning I remember waking up—because after three and a half hours of that kind of meeting your mind is in a fog—and suddenly realising what I was looking at. I was looking at…someone had intimidated a witness, which if you did in the world you’d go to prison for. Someone had influenced the judiciary. Someone with authority over these men had told them what they wanted the outcome to be. Again, if a politician called the judge and did that he’d go to jail. So there’s two things that the world recognizes as criminal activity and yet this was a practice, and when I brought this up to some friends they said, ‘Oh, the whole purpose of a special committee is to get the finding Bethel wants.’
But still that didn’t change my belief that we were the one true religion. That was just men. Men were acting, and well…[acting] wickedly…but Israel was God’s organization, at least I believed that in those days. I realized the word “organization” is misapplied, but I believed it, and yet they had bad Kings so that didn’t ruin my faith. It was the overlapping generations that was the first time I realized they could make stuff up, and I realized if they could do that what else could they do? That’s when I started examining 1914 with a friend. I was arguing for it, coming up with all the scriptures—and remember I’m pretty adept at that because I had honed that skill over the years practicing with Catholics when I was trying to disprove their doctrines—and I couldn’t disprove what he was saying. In fact, he convinced me that there was no proof for the doctrine.
That opened the floodgates, and as I looked at each doctrine…well, you’ve already probably seen the videos that I’ve launched, you can see the logic that was used to come to those conclusions. Still, it wasn’t until maybe 2012 that I hit that turning point, when they declared themselves the faithful and discreet slave. And then there was a point the next year at the convention where they said that if—this was a talk called “Testing Jehovah In Your Heart” and in the outline (I got the outline, because I wasn’t sure if it was just an overzealous speaker, but I got the outline and no, this was in the outline) that if you were to come up with a different understanding, or even if you didn’t share it with someone, if you doubted what was being taught in the publications, then you were testing Jehovah in your heart. And I remember tears coming to my eyes at that point, because I thought, you’ve taken this very precious thing, that for me all my life has been the most precious thing in my life, and you’ve just thrown it in the trash; you’ve dumped it.
I don’t know exactly when it was that I finally got rid of the cognitive dissonance, because on the one hand 1914, 1919, the other sheep, they’re false doctrines, but this is the true religion, but these are false doctrines, but this is a true religion. You go through this fight in your own mind, not realizing that you’ve accepted something as a premise without proof. And then suddenly there’s a eureka moment and you say—in my case, at least, I said—it’s not the true religion. And the moment I said that, there was this release in my soul. I realized, ‘Okay, so, if it’s not the true religion, what is? If it’s not the true organization, what is? Because I’m still thinking with the mindset of a Jehovah’s Witness: there has to be an organization that Jehovah approves.
Now, I’ve come to see many things over the years. I mean that started in 2010, and here we are in 2018. So, the purpose of this series is to examine all those things and to help people like myself, brothers and sisters like myself—and I’m not just talking Jehovah’s Witnesses; I’m talking Mormons; I’m talking Evangelicals; I’m talking Catholics; anyone who has been under the rule of man in a religious sense and is waking up. There are two ways you can go. The majority go away from Christ. They go into the world. They just live their lives. Many don’t even believe in God anymore, but some retain their faith in God. They realize this is man, and this is God, and so it’s for those who want to maintain their faith in Jesus Christ and Jehovah God—God as our father, Jesus Christ as our mediator, our Savior, and our master, and our Lord, and yes, ultimately our brother—those are the ones I want to help as I have been helped. So, we’re going to examine different things that we need to face as we awaken to the truth and how we can continue to worship God in an approved way in this new environment.
So, I’ll leave it at that. I will say finally that I do continue to use Meleti Vivlon because while Eric Michael Wilson, my full name, was given to me by my parents, and I’m quite proud of those names, although I don’t know if I can live up to the meaning of them; but Meleti Vivlon was the name that I chose for myself, and it is basically the name of my awakened self. So I shall continue to use that as well, but I’ll respond to either one, if you want to email me or ask questions, or feel free to make comments…what I’d really like to see in this series is different ones commenting both on the Beroeans site, beroeans.net—that’s Beroeans with an ‘O’. That’s BEROEANS.NET, or on the YouTube channel as well, if you wish to comment there, so that you can share your awakening experiences, because we need to help one another because it’s very traumatic.
I’ll close with one experience to show how traumatic it can be: A good friend was an elder and he wanted to leave. He wanted to stop being an elder, and he wanted to leave the congregation, but he, like I, knew that if you don’t do it the right way, you can get cut off from all your family and friends. Hence the need to hide who we are, because we could be killed socially, and he wanted to know how to do this. He was going through a very traumatic time emotionally, so he went to a therapist, and that therapist didn’t know he was talking about Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was very careful not to even say he was talking about a religion. He was just talking about a group of men with whom he associated; and I don’t know how many visits there were before he finally revealed that it was Jehovah’s Witnesses, and she was shocked. She said, ‘All this time I thought you were in some kind of criminal gang and were trying to get out.’ So that shows you exactly what it is like being a Jehovah’s Witness in the environment that now exists.
Again, my name is Eric Wilson/Meleti Vivlon. Thank you for listening. I look forward to the next video in this series.
[…] my last video, I mentioned a letter I sent into headquarters regarding a 1972 Watchtower article on Matthew 24. […]
Thanks Meleti, it’s good that your reality is about as normal as everybody’s and not some Super Human Experience , as one might listen to at a Regional Convention. I loved the Book Study! Especially the discussions we would have after the meeting. Besides the coffee and cakes. It was an all round healthy experience. I’m in the mood of giving a little perspective from my own experience. I believed through my studies in the 1980’s, that the JW religion had a direct connection with Jehovah God, because of the Faithful Anointed Slave Class.! And prior to being a JW,… Read more »
Yes, you are making sense Lazarus. In fact, you are spot-on.
Thanks for your experience.
Thanks WS. Your welcome.
I loved the whole bit on cognitive dissonance. We have all been so conditioned that God has an organisation. Helping others to learn that there is none is the key. Requires patience and restraint. I find questions, with factual data and using scriptures in context along with prayer is the only way to help. Loved the connection to crime and our experience.
You got it right, Eric. There is no question in my mind that following Christ, that the Christian religion, Christianity, is the right way to go. So, it’s no longer a question of which is the true religion but, rather, where or who practices true Christianity? Christ knows who his followers are and he will gather in the wheat one day. He will most assuredly find them in many places. It wouldn’t surprize me if he finds them under so-called “non-Christian” religions, too, people who conduct themselves after His own heart, even better than nominal Christians. We are not the… Read more »
I take your words to heart, Richard. I’ve had different ones propose–with the best of intentions, mind you–that we start up something akin to what Russell began. I’ve had to reject every one, because inevitably, some form of centralized authority is involved, some centralized approval process of who can belong and who cannot. This takes the power away from Christ and puts it into the hands of men. Only Christ, operating through the holy spirit at work in all members of a local congregation, should decide such things.
Warning with good reason truth Seeker, the heart of man is desperate and who can know it? We need to constantly examine ourselves critically and even let others do so, only then can we can remain centered. Jeremiah 17:9. The Apostle Paul put it nicely in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 where he likens the Christian congregation to the body of Christ. After saying in verse 18 that God has placed the members each one in the body just as he has desired, he continues by suggesting that if the eye said to the hand I have no need of you… Read more »
I used to love the basic idea of the book study group. Not necessarily the reading and commenting on one of the publications but the idea of a small group getting together in a home and discussing the Bible, praying together, talking with one another and even sharing food and drink on occasion. To me, that concept is what is described in Hebrews 10:24,25. Then they did away with that arrangement. I used to love the basic idea of the Bible highlights. Not necessarily the finding of information on certain verses in the publications and then putting it in your… Read more »
An interesting observation about viewing the Watchtower study as an outsider and for the first time getting a glimpse of what is really going on.
Speaking just for myself, I consider you a spiritual role model Eric. Your candor and ability to be rational and concise is refreshing. I feel like you’re a genuinely good man. Tragically, for the Organization, I believe they were successful for many years training talented bible litigators. I believe these holy warriors are going to be the core of the modern force outside the gate pulling the walls down. As for your conversion I offer you a quote from one of the greatest fighters the world has ever known, Muhammad Ali: “A man who views the world the same at… Read more »
Thanks Joseph. And thanks for sharing that Muhammad Ali quote!
Hi Eric You know that I have been on this site for a few years now. All you have written has helped wake me up. I was on the BOE back then. There is not a JW teaching that I have not examined in depth. Sometimes I just list every scripture on a subject to confirm what the truth is. For example, I have listed every verse in the NT where Jehovah’s name is used and formed my own opinion as to who is referred to . It is not hard. I am working on the kingdom at present, and… Read more »
It has to be very hard, Leonardo, when one has a large family in the Org. I do not have that situation, so from that aspect, coming out in the open was not so hard. Of course, almost all my former friends have obediently complied with the directives of men and shunned me, even though I’m not disfellowshipped. The indoctrination of the Governing Body is so powerful these days that they don’t need the formal designation anymore. Brothers shun anyone who merely stops going to meetings. There is a spirit that is pervasive in the Org and it clearly isn’t… Read more »
Hi Eric What an emotional ride this is my story in a nut shell: I am caught, on the one hand I know what the bible is saying – as I read it daily – and on the other what GB is saying and unfortunately, they don’t agree and my wife is a devout GB follower so you see I am caught in the middle I cannot share with her what I am learning from the bible as she thinks its an attack on her faith, for example the book of Acts mentions the way the baptism should be carried… Read more »
Jamesbrown, well put! “Vengeance is mine saith the Lord.” There are many men who try to subvert the flock of God to follow after them and in doing so stumble the little ones. I think there must be a factory full of mill stones just waiting to be put to use.
Excellent first video. I look forward to more in the series. Of course, I would like to share my ongoing experience of leaving. What would you suggest is the best way? By sending you an email?
Yes, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.