I trust you’ve had a good two weeks. On my end-some pain. This past week I finished painting my garage roof. I went up on it Friday morning. Let’s just simply say fresh roof paint+wearing flip flops+morning dew is a bad combination. I fell on a ridge roof rib on just one side of my derriere. Then I slid off the roof to the ground (just under 9 feet). Thankfully, I landed on my feet. However, there’s still some residual pain.
Meeting wise, I started to have a weird feeling this morning as our normal meeting time of 10 AM approached. I just had this feeling that they were not going to show. As of now (10:17 as I type), they still have not come. Funny as I finished the preceding sentence and they start pulling in. I had originally though that they were not going to come after the last session where I had them read from the New World Translation that Jesus is rightfully receiving “true” worship in Revelation 5:11-14.
The custodian’s husband came to the door as I pulled the water out of the fridge and there was a person I never saw before. I heartily greeted them and the gentleman introduced himself as being from headquarters in New York. I thought it was interesting they have this guy here and at first I thought it was going to be a discussion that would quickly go south. We exchanged pleasantries and I simply said, “the floor is yours,” please feel free to talk. Making a long story short since this guy was a “stand in,” I found out he found “the truth” at a young age of 22. He quickly got involved as a full-time pioneer in the southern portion of the United States.
He went to Brooklyn and eventually went to spend 10 years in the Central African country of Cameroon. He talked at length about the lack of maintenance that is going on there. He said the new maintenance program that headquarters has established is having “difficulty” in being implemented given the Cameroon culture basically is work something until it is completely broken. Also he related how the one town near the major hub of Douala had the residents given a communal tiller. It sat for years as the people preferred to do prepare ground with a hoe because, “that’s the way it’s always been.” From here, he talked about how he came back to the United States and moved back and forth the past few years between Brooklyn, Warwick, and Wallkill, all of which are in New York. I was informed that he had to leave by noon so that he could give some “talks” (JW sermon term).
As we had started turning towards the “meat” of the discussion, I was asked about my background. I told him I grew up in a non-denominational gathering. His body language was a bit surprised as he was fully expecting a specific name that would allow him to “go to town.” Continuing on, I had asked how much the custodian’s husband had said in relation to the nature of our meetings. He said not much at all and the custodian’s husband nodded in the affirmative. So this allowed me to take the floor for a bit. I related to the Bethelite (or Warwickite?) about the nature of our meetings. Here is a rundown of the things I mentioned:
I started by telling them how the elder and custodian’s husband have a very good working “relationship.” I openly said there are things that we agree about (custodian’s husband nodded in the affirmative), there are things that we obviously don’t agree about (got a slight laugh), however one thing that I felt they have learned to appreciate how each side can essentially respectfully challenge as we see things differently at times. I talked about the last meeting where I explained the Trinity to them. I told him how we were lead into it by looking at II Thessalonians 2. He was very interested initially in what I had to say. I highlighted the difference how the organization views “the restrainer” and how the Bible/original Greek defines it. I showed him my Bible and how it was regarded as the Holy Spirit. From here, I had said how neither the custodian’s husband nor elder were able to give me a good working definition. He interjected at this point.
He said when he was in the South how all the different “churches” said different things. They had different “versions” of the Trinity (he didn’t name any but I let him keep going). He said that to join their church, one has to accept everything that the organization says. When he said that, I was taken immediately to this quote:
Approved association with Jehovah's Witnesses requires accepting the entire range of the true teachings of the Bible, including those Scriptural beliefs that are unique to Jehovah's Witnesses.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. April 1, 1986 p. 31
Continuing on, he said how the Trinity came to be at the Council of Nicea in 325. Then he continued how it couldn’t be true with some other standard Watchtower arguments. I sat silently and waited for him to finish.
My first question was, “did you hear of the early church fathers?” Him, “yes.” Me, “good. Here’s the thing with them, they were men who were directly taught by the disciples of Jesus. No one makes doctrine based off of what they say since there’s only one thing (I held up my Bible) however, they nearly all universally agreed that Jesus was diety.” I didn’t pull this page up but here’s a list of handy quotes from Stand to Reason.
Continuing on, I had figured that this meeting wasn’t going anywhere but here so I pulled up my presentation that you can find the hyperlink to in our last meeting. I then said how neither of them could come up with a definition. I proceeded to explain everything to him as compressed yet succinctly as possible given that they had to leave and he talked for a good half hour on his back story. As we went through, I said at times how the New World Translation will not render a verse as most other translations and demonstrated using the JW Library App.
The one thing I really stressed was Revelation 5:11-14 along with Revelation 19:10. From here, it “begins.”
He proceeded to say he “appreciates” how I view the scripture. However, he said that one can “search for truth yet never come to a full knowledge.” Additionally, he attempted to say how they display the “true religion because you know them by their works.” He tried to apply this only and specifically to the organization. However, I was able to apply it as well. That’s the first part. The second thing was in reference to the rendering of the New World Translation. He then said how it went with the oldest and best manuscripts. I allowed him to extol the “virtues” of the New World Translation. One are where he contended the New World was correct was Hebrews 1:6 where any mainstream translation has “worship” in relation to Jesus. The current New World has “obeisance.” I said how I believe the older New World’s had worship and he didn’t believe me (I had told him at this point I do research on the organization). So I went upstairs and got out the 1971 version. I showed him the cover then moved to the title page to show it was produced by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. He concurred and I took him to the “offending” verse where the word “worship” is used with an asterisks. Diatribe continues regarding the oldest. I let him continue. Additionally, he said how God’s name has been “removed.” When he was done, I gave him some of the background of the New American Standard Version.
The bubble bursting ensued as I told him how it “makes the best of both worlds” by using the older and then the newer manuscripts have verses that are bracketed (different from the New World Translation’s use which I was able to highlight). I calmly then explained the origin of Jehovah to which this video shows where it came from:
He then tried to talk about how each translation can be criticized and how people accuse the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of inserting things into the Bible that shouldn’t be there. He said they use things properly within their context. I concurred and again gently emphasized how the words are not in original Greek to which he didn’t give a solid answer. The meeting pretty much drew to a close at this point.
On a much lighter note, the custodian’s husband who is technology adverse showed me he actually has his first smartphone. The two of us started laughing as it’s a running joke regarding him and technology. With that, we were done.
Continue to pray for the custodian’s husband and this headquarters worker that at the very least he will be curious enough to look, search, and see like the Bareans (he referenced them at one point), to see if what I said was actually true.
Our next meeting is set for July 1. We will take the time to discuss the Holy Spirit since the custodian's husband was given some verses by the elder. I want him there and we can discuss some things.