Part of the answer to the question of why the elders questioned thoroughly baptismal candidates, often discouraging the nervous ones was as follows:
“Entrance into the body of Christ is not made on the basis of logic or1958
philosophy, but is made on the basis of faith in Christ Jesus and the
whole-hearted devotion to him. We think by far the better way, the scriptural
way, is for the one who conducts the baptismal service, or the one who gives a
Scriptural talk on such an occasion, to ask merely the simple questions: (1) Do
you believe in Christ Jesus as your Redeemer, and your personal Saviour from sin
and death? (2) Have you presented your heart and life to God, to follow the
indications of his will under the headship of Jesus his Son?” - The Watchtower,
1 February 1921, pp.42/43.
By 1958 the questions had evolved away from trust solely in Jesus:
“It is essential that with the mouth a public declaration of faith be made. Two1973
questions are therefore asked the candidates: (1) Have you recognized yourself
before Jehovah God as a sinner who needs salvation and have acknowledged to him
that this salvation proceeds from him, the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ?
(2) On the basis of this faith in God and in his provision for salvation have
you dedicated yourself unreservedly to God to do his will henceforth as he
reveals it to you through Jesus Christ and through the Bible under the
enlightening power of the holy spirit?” - The Watchtower, 1 August 1958, p.478.
Further changes in questions took place, and for the first time the need of repentance was mentioned. Notice also the fact that you are a condemned sinner unless you receive salvation.
"... we suggest that you consider the following two questions, which are asked1985
of candidates for baptism: (1) Have you repented of your sins and turned around,
recognizing yourself before Jehovah God as a condemned sinner who needs
salvation, and have you acknowledged to him that this salvation proceeds from
him, the Father, through his Son Jesus Christ? (2) On the basis of this
faith in God and in his provision for salvation have you dedicated yourself
unreservedly to God to do his will henceforth as he reveals it to you through
Jesus Christ and through the Bible under the enlightening power of the holy
spirit? “- The Watchtower, 1 May 1973, p.280.
Over this period of time, not only were the questions changing and evolving but also whether you actually needed to answer the questions or not. Is baptism simply for someone who has repented and come into the reality of salvation or is there something more? The following quote leaves us in no doubt as to what the Society believe today:
“Decision based on Knowledge... Before reaching this point of baptism, allQuestions
candidates have carefully reviewed with the congregation elders the Bible’s
principal doctrines and guidelines for Christian conduct to make sure they
really qualify for baptism... the baptism candidates will be in position to
answer with depth of understanding and heartfelt appreciation two simple
questions... On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of
your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will ?... Do you
understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s
Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?” - The
Watchtower, 1 June 1985, p.30.
The current review of the doctrines and guidelines mentioned above are contained in the Watchtower publication, Organized to Accomplish our Ministry, 1983. They cover some 43 pages of the book and there are no fewer than 130 separate questions!
It is no wonder it takes so long to get baptised and no longer is it based on the outward testimony of what Christ has done in the heart but rather it is the ability to learn and understand, not Bible principles but Watchtower ones.
A look at the questions the candidates are asked today, before they are baptised, compared with the ones from the past, reveals several differences.
• Today there is no mention of Jesus being your personal saviour. Now it is a corporate saviour.
• There is no mention of being a condemned sinner.
• No mention that salvation proceeds from the Father through Jesus. It comes from and through the organisation.
• Indeed amazingly enough there is no mention of the word ‘salvation’ at all.
• Finally there is no mention of dedication to do God’s will. Today it is dedication to serving the organisation
In the Society today entrance into salvation is through logic and philosophy not through a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is a far cry even from their own beginnings, let alone from what evangelical Christians believe the Bible says.