Why are Jehovah’s Witnesses Not Permitted to Have Blood Transfusions?


Ankerberg: We have the former Jehovah’s Witnesses back with us. Bill Cetnar used to answer all the questions for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in our country south of the Mason-Dixon line all the way to Texas. You were on the radio for them. You used to train people for them. You were one of the people who worked with the very president up there in Brooklyn. And then one day you found Christ. Joan Cetnar was also there, met Bill at the Watchtower Society in Brooklyn. You also left and it cost you possibly a million dollars because it cut you off from your family. You were disfellowshipped. And Dr. Robert Countess, who has a Ph.D. in Greek and one of the few men that has taken the time and trouble to write a book about the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation, The Jehovah’s Witnesses New Testament, and we are going to be talking about what you have found out about their research.
How many folks, Bill, are becoming Jehovah’s Witnesses in the world every minute.
Bill Cetnar: Approximately six a minute. In the last year they had a four percent increase of over 3 million people.
Ankerberg: And how many are they losing every minute?
Bill Cetnar: Well, they are probably losing three going out the back door as six are coming in the front door.
Ankerberg: So, they are still gaining every minute.
Bill Cetnar: Yes, four percent net gain.
Ankerberg: How many Watchtower booklets are going out?
Bill Cetnar: Watchtower is approximately 10 million per week and about 9 million of the Awake magazine. In 1976-1977 they had a drop, and now they are coming back up. People seem to have a new disease called loss of memory. They do not remember all the false prophesies the Jehovah’s Witnesses made. They have announced the end of the world now eight times: 1874, 1878, 1881, 1914, 1918, 1925, and 1975.
Ankerberg: All documented in their literature?
Bill Cetnar: In their own publications.
Ankerberg: And you’ve taken the trouble to put that into your book.
Bill Cetnar: Yes, I have some Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses Who Love the Truth. Jehovah’s Witnesses are usually very sincere, dedicated people who believe that the Bible is God’s book. That’s why we have a common ground, and that’s why we’re interested in helping Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Ankerberg: Bill, this week we want to get to a real serious question that comes up when we talk about what the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe. You were part of the research as a Jehovah’s Witness on this thing of blood transfusions. How many Jehovah’s Witnesses in the world need a blood transfusion every week or month?
Bill Cetnar: We can get an estimate from the National Red Cross. I have a letter from the National Red Cross that says that 10% of the populace this year will need a blood transfusion. Ten percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses will need….
Ankerberg: How many is that?
Bill Cetnar: Jehovah’s Witnesses only give you the figures of the salesmen, the ones who go from house to house. As soon as you stop selling books, you are not a Jehovah’s Witness. However, we can get an approximate figure by going to their one meeting a year which is called their “communion” or “memorial” of the Lord’s death. This happens to the closest full moon near the spring equinox. Last year there were over six million Jehovah’s Witnesses attending this one meeting. That gives you a figure of over a thousand people per week that have to make the decision whether they will take a blood transfusion or not.
Ankerberg: And what do the Jehovah’s Witnesses say about whether or not you as a Jehovah’s Witness could take a blood transfusion?
Bill Cetnar: Let me give you a true story of a young girl, just a few months ago, 21 years old, in Palatka, Florida. She had a little baby that was just a few days old and the doctors told her that that baby must have a total blood flushing because there was a RH factor problem. The Witness leaders told her that if she lets that baby have a transfusion, that she would be disfellowshipped, excommunicated from Jehovah’s Witnesses. She would not be allowed in any Jehovah’s Witness home. She would have to sit in the back seat and the baby would go into second death and so would she at Armageddon. She hid the baby from the doctors. The baby died. Beginning at the funeral when she saw that little casket, she could hardly take it. She became very depressed and felt guilty. Her husband reported her to the committee. He said, “My wife is depressed about the baby dying.” And because of this depression, they excommunicated her because they said that no Jehovah’s Witness has depression. The young lady took a revolver and blew off her head. This is recorded in the newspapers.
Last week I received a clipping from Watertown, New York, and a Jehovah’s Witness who had a blood disease and knowing that he wasn’t allowed to have a blood transfusion in order to help him with his blood disease, and because he thought that it was communicated to his wife and his child, he took a revolver and shot his wife and shot his little six year old and used the gun on himself. This is happening to approximately a thousand people per week.
Ankerberg: What in the world do they base this doctrine on? Where do they get that? They are claiming that they get it in the Bible, but that’s not true. What are they saying first of all, though?
Bill Cetnar: Well, your first question that I would like to ask a Jehovah’s Witness is “Does God forbid drinking blood?” That’s the question. Now, in Genesis 9:4, God does forbid drinking blood. In Leviticus 7, Leviticus 17, and in Acts 15:28, all those expressions there from God say, “Do not drink blood. Keep free from drinking blood.” That’s why I will refuse to drink blood if I can help it.
Now, the next question is, “If it was against the law by God to drink blood, what if an Israelite would drink it?” Let’s say we’re in 1513 BC, and an Israelite drinks blood. What happens if Moses hears about it? Leviticus 17 tells us. Leviticus 17 says, “Anyone who eats blood is outlawed, karat from the people” – that’s according to the New Jerusalem translation – then he must wash his clothes and take a bath.
Ankerberg: So, if he breaks that rule that God set down and he does drink blood, he’s got to take a bath and wash his clothes?
Bill Cetnar: According to Leviticus 17 he is karat. He is “cut off,” literal translation, from the people – his head is not cut off, he is cut off – for a 24 hour period….
Ankerberg: Until he washes his clothes and so on.
Bill Cetnar: Now, what the does the Watchtower say in the booklet on blood that they present? It says that “he would be cut off in death.” That’s a lie. In their other publication it says that “he would be punished by being executed.” Now, I wonder why Jehovah’s Witnesses are lying? That is a lie and every Jehovah’s Witness can go to his Bible and prove that their president is a liar. Now, what does “cut off” mean? If you go to the Judaica Encyclopedia, on page 121 it says “this juxtaposition of divine and judicial punishment appears conclusively to disprove the view that karat, cutting off, was not a divine punishment of death, but rather a judicial punishment of excommunication. You can go to the Jewish Encyclopedia and it says that the punishment of karat was not death.
Ankerberg: That would be logical, Bill. If the guy’s going to come back, if he’s taking a bath, you can’t take a bath if you’re dead.
Bill Cetnar: I’d rather take a bath than be stoned to death. Now, my next question to a Jehovah’s Witness is “If you were living in Moses’ day and you picked up some wood to build a fire on the Sabbath, the rest day, now, what would happen to you.” Well, even Moses had a problem with that and that’s why he went to Yahweh. In Numbers 15 Yahweh said to Moses, “This man must be put to death.” Not karat, he must be put to death. So, it is a capital crime to work on the Sabbath.
Ankerberg: Okay. That was the punishment clearly spelled out.
Bill Cetnar: Now, which is the most important law? A law where you would be excommunicated for 24 hours, take a bath and you’re clean again? By the way, that was the same punishment for eating fat. If you ate some bacon on the side, same problem. Now, when Jesus was on earth, Jesus healed on the Sabbath. The Scribes and Pharisees got very uptight because He just committed a capital crime. He is deserving of death. And they say “Why are you doing this on the Sabbath?” Jesus says two things. Number one, “I am the Lord of the Sabbath. I am boss.” [Mark 2:28] Want to argue about that?” They didn’t believe He was boss so He came up with argument number two. “What if your son would fall into a well on the Sabbath? What would you do?” You would, of course, rescue him. If he was an animal or a human, you would go to work on the Sabbath. You would put aside one of the Ten Commandments written in stone and you would go to work. So, God is setting aside one of the Ten Commandments. Why? Because a life is at stake and then He comes up with a very important question. “Is it not lawful to save a life?” [Luke 14] It’s the law to save a life. What if there were a law in the Bible that says “Do not take a blood transfusion?”
Ankerberg: There’s not. But if there was…
Bill Cetnar: Since there is no law, there could be no sin. There can be no violation of it. But if there were a law – Number XIII: Do not take a blood transfusion – Jesus would set it aside as He did the Sabbath law to save a life. Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses are killing thousands of people because Satan wants to kill and to destroy. Jesus said, “You don’t understand this. What I want is mercy, not sacrifice.” [Matt. 9:13] And today, what is so interesting is, I have heard from a nurse who happened to be the nurse of the president of Jehovah’s Witnesses sister who went to a hospital and she was in an isolated ward so that nobody could see her. But the nurse was a Jehovah’s Witness and she said that the president’s sister took a blood transfusion.
Ankerberg: Bill, this thing of blood transfusion that you have just spelled out to us, you have written in your book a story about one of your personal relationships with the men who are at the Watchtower Society when you were there. They were there when you were there, and I think they are there now again. And it has to do with this blood transfusion. I think it was the editor, Quackenbush.
Bill Cetnar: Yes. What I would like to point out is a phenomenon, an interesting phenomenon. The weakest Jehovah’s Witness, the one who never goes out from house to house selling books, the one who maybe comes in once a year at the memorial to see what’s going on, he’s on the fringe: he’s the one that will most quickly refuse to take a blood transfusion. He’s the one that is willing to die to prove to God that he’s something great. It’s the weakest Jehovah’s Witness who will not take the blood transfusion, not the strongest.
Ankerberg: You’d think the guys at the Watchtower Society would be the ones that would be the ones that would be up there ready to die for that doctrine.
Bill Cetnar: A personal friend of mine was the editor of the Awake magazine and he agreed with me while at the Watchtower in 1958 that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are wrong on banning blood transfusions. In fact, he would probably take one himself if it meant his life. Now, he is the editor of the Awake who is telling millions of people, “Don’t you take a blood transfusion,” but he would. Well, what would you call that?
Ankerberg: Hypocrisy.
Joan Cetnar: And he repeated it again to Bill’s brother when questioned on the same thing. “What would you do? What do you tell your Bible studies about blood transfusions?” He said, “They know what I think about that.”
Ankerberg: Tell our folks that are not Jehovah’s Witnesses out there, when Jehovah’s Witnesses listen to that, why is it that they don’t change their minds?
Bill Cetnar: Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently change their minds when they get the facts. People aren’t always going to be lied to and deceived.
Ankerberg: This is something that we need to bring up right here. There are a lot of Evangelical Christians who have the idea that Jehovah’s Witnesses are just doggone stubborn. They are brainwashed and they would never look into the Word of God if we took the time to talk with them.
Bill Cetnar: Jehovah’s Witnesses are by-and-large very sincere, dedicated people who love the Bible. And I love Jehovah’s Witnesses despite what they might think. All I’m trying to do is alert you before Jesus comes that you’re following a false prophet and you’d better check out. This ship is sinking. Don’t go with it.
Ankerberg: But people can have these things pointed out to them, but why is it that they draw back on this?
Bill Cetnar: A quarter of a million Jehovah’s Witnesses left since 1975. Most of them are not becoming Christians. There really very famous ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses who said that “We’re bruised and we don’t know where to turn.” They don’t know who Jesus is at this time. But there are thousands that are coming to know that Jesus is Yahweh. In fact, I am the founder of “Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses for Jesus.” We are soon going to have our seventh ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses Now for Jesus convention. We used to be JW’s. Now we are WJ’s: we are witnesses for Jesus according to Acts 1:8. And we are going to approximately have 3,000 people in California. Many, many ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses are going to be there.
Ankerberg: How many ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses are you expecting?
Bill Cetnar: We don’t know for sure, but we will have an audience of 3,000-5,000 on Thursday night, we’re sure. How many are ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses? I don’t know exactly. Probably 500-600.
Ankerberg: Why do they fear when they have the facts on the table? They still won’t do it.
Bill Cetnar: Jehovah’s Witnesses need facts. Before you get facts, you’re full of fear: “What if…?” In fact, I got many letters from Jehovah’s Witnesses that were really concerned about Joan and me in 1975. They said, “Why don’t you just come back for ‘75?” We knew that Jehovah’s Witnesses were going to be false prophets in 1972 because Jesus said, “I am going to come when you do not expect, right on the dot.” And that means that if a Jehovah’s Witnesses tells you that He is going to come in October 1975, that one day He is not going to come. He’s going to be ornery enough not to show up on that day.
Ankerberg: That’s what they said that Jesus was going to come back in ‘75 and He didn’t come. That’s what you are talking about. Come back to this thing, what is disfellowshipping? Why is it so terrible?
Joan Cetnar: John, when you’ve been taught that this is God’s organization, that God is speaking through this organization, whether you’ve learned that from childhood or whether you accepted it because of the Bible study that’s been held with you, this little book, The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, is very cleverly put together to lead up to the point where you agree that this is God’s organization. Are you going to argue with God? Are you going to question God about anything? And this is where you have it. And not only that, but when you leave where do you go? They quote that famous Scripture the apostles said that to Jesus, “If we leave you where do we go?” [John 6:68] And they say that if you leave the organization where do you go? “Because it’s all uncertain out there.”
Ankerberg: Let’s make a point right here. They say they believe the Bible, but the Bible is interpreted by the magazine.
Joan Cetnar: The organization.
Ankerberg: And the magazines are saying that they are speaking in the authority of God so, therefore, when you doubt their interpretation of the Scripture, you might look at it and say, “Boy, I can’t get that,” but even if you can’t get it you still take the interpretation because if you don’t you’re disobeying God and you can be out. What is disfellowshipping?
Joan Cetnar: Disfellowshipping is they won’t talk to you at all. They are not allowed to say “Hello.”
Bill Cetnar: You’re in second death.
Joan Cetnar: You have lost your eternal life. You’re outside the organization. You are not in fellowship.
Ankerberg: You had an inoculation when you were growing up. Actually, you didn’t have it.
Joan Cetnar: No, I didn’t have it.
Ankerberg: Tell us about that.
Joan Cetnar: Well, when I was growing up the edict of the Watchtower was that smallpox vaccination was against God’s law just as blood transfusion is today. That was a crime.
Ankerberg: Why did they outlaw smallpox?
Joan Cetnar: Well, they said that it was made with blood, animal’s blood, and that if you were putting that vaccine into you, you were mixing animal blood with human blood. But what we found out later was that there was no blood in it, it was made with eggs. But, at the time that I was growing up and had to go to school it was still a law of the land that you must have a smallpox vaccination. My folks said, “God said no smallpox vaccination.” So they had to do something else to get around obeying God rather than man. And so they took me to a so-called doctor and made an acid scar put on my leg to simulate a vaccination. He signed a certificate that I had a vaccination and I didn’t know until years later that I had never been vaccinated.
Ankerberg: Bill, you were the one sent over to check out this thing of smallpox vaccination when you were at the Watchtower Society. Tell us about that.
Bill Cetnar: One of the first questions that came on my desk when I was to answer the questions was from Texas. It said, “Is it really a violation of God’s law to have a smallpox vaccination?” And here’s the Consolation magazine. It says, “The crime of vaccination. Vaccination is a direct violation of the law of Jehovah God.” And I had lived with this. I grew up with this and I really wasn’t suspicious, but I thought, “I’d really like to find out what are the facts behind this, because the Bible doesn’t say anything about vaccination.” How can you have a law against vaccination? The Bible doesn’t say anything. They said, “That’s easy to explain because you’re mixing animal blood with human blood.” This Consolation magazine said that they take a calf and strap him down to a table and then they inject cowpox and they cut his veins and they create a puss and then they scrape off the puss and that’s what they inject into humans.
Well, I had no suspicion but I thought I would do some research on it. I called up the Laerdal Laboratories and asked them if I could take a tour. I took a tour and I said, “Where’s the blood?” And they said, “What blood?” And I said, “Well, God said that there is blood in smallpox vaccine.” And he said, “Who said?” I said, “God said!” “He forgot to tell us and we make it. It’s made out of eggs. It’s called avianization. Didn’t you see the needle injecting the cowpox into the egg?” I said, “Where is the blood?”
I went to the Watchtower headquarters, sat down at my desk and typed out a memo to the president of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Why are we lying to our own brothers? There is no blood in smallpox vaccine.” An interesting thing happened. On April 15, 1952, God changed His mind. After April 15, 1952, I thought that I had really accomplished something and that they are a wonderful organization. When they find the truth they change.
What had really happened is their doctor, Dr. Ilett, at the Watchtower headquarters is scratching people’s arms not giving them a smallpox vaccination, signing a certificate and sending 150 missionaries out of the country every six months without a smallpox vaccination. The federal government was beginning to investigate this, and that’s the reason they changed. Almost instantly they began teaching no blood transfusions and that’s where I had a problem. I refused to answer questions on blood transfusions. And an interesting thing happened to me. I lost my job answering questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Ankerberg: People listen to this hypocrisy. We don’t want them just to turn to despair. What would you have them turn to if they are going to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Bill Cetnar:< They should do exactly what that jailer did in Acts 16 when he asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” And the apostle Paul says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” What happened to Jehovah? He said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” The next sentence said, “They believed in God and they were saved. He and his household.” [Acts 16:30-34] Acts 4:12 says, “there is no other name under heaven… by which you will be saved.”
Ankerberg: And you personally experienced the saving power of Jesus Christ who changed your life.
Bill Cetnar: The second best day of my life was getting kicked out of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The best day of my life was when I found out that Jesus was, is, and will be Yahweh forever.
Ankerberg: And He will care for those that are Jehovah’s Witnesses right now.
Bill Cetnar: And He will come and live in you. Not near you, in you. And you will have a total satisfaction and you will have the Son and everlasting life.

About our Guests:

Bill Cetnar. For more than 25 years he was a Jehovah’s Witness. He worked in the Brooklyn headquarters of the Watchtower Society and used to answer all the questions for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in our country south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Joan Cetnar. Wife of Bill Cetnar. She too was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and has worked at the Watchtower Society.
Dr. Robert Countess. He is a military chaplain; has a Ph.D. in Greek; has a published work, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New Testament.

Read Part 4


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