Today was a very interesting one and we got to one of the core Watchtower doctrines. I open the door and the main conductor (who is one of the local hall elders) says, “you look like you’ve been losing weight.” I’m like, “I don’t think I am but it’s possible.” Before we got to that, the main conductor was back and we caught up. They wanted to know how my week went at work. So I filled them in. In short, I’m doing work and someone else is taking the credit for it. Hence he doesn’t have to do anything. It happens but whatever. We chatted about situations like that in the workplace. The main conductor is having an inspection at work. He said “I’ve been quite busy and I know what it’s like.”
So we start digging in with a slight recap from last week. The other Witness (the janitor’s husband) says, “I was looking for that verse that has the word “other” inserted. I showed him where it was (Colossians 1:16, 17) and we had a bit of a conversation with this. He said there was a verse that we talked about where it was Jehovah who worked as creator (Isaiah 44:24 where Jehovah acts alone). The main conductor wasn’t very pleased and we talked about the term “firstborn.” I read the definition from the “Annotated Strong’s Dictionary” in the back of my New American Standard. The conductor immediately rejected the notion regarding Jesus being anything but first created. I re-explained everything such as the children of Israel naming order from the Old Testament/Greek Scriptures to where they are listed in Revelation. We ended up in the Revelation 7 which is where Judah is listed as the first tribe. This led into a brief discussion of the 144,000. I flat out asked after they explained, “so half of the verse is figurative (the tribal names) and the other half is literal (the 12,000 per tribe). The response I received was along the lines of, “since Jehovah is done with Israel, it is a spiritual group.” In my mind, I was thinking, “if God is truly done, why has Israel come back together as a state in 1948? I spoke to the 144,000 as best I could and bought in the term “other sheep” which they are part of. I spoke how the Mormons consider the “other sheep” to be the Native Americans. They started laughing at that notion. We were actually able to bring in Nelson Barbour into the conversation a little as well since he and Charles Take Russell associated with one another.
So we stated at this point digging into the text. We picked up on page 42, paragraph 15. Nothing super notable happened as we went through. However, on page 46, the verse referenced at the top of the page is I Peter 2:21-23 (New World Translation), In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you,+ leaving a model for you to follow his steps closely. 22 He committed no sin, nor was deception found in his mouth. 23 When he was being insulted, he did not insult in return. When he was suffering, he did not threaten, but he entrusted himself to the One who judges righteously.
As an elder, he is well aware that he has access to the “secretive” elder’s manual titled, Shepherd the Flock of God. There are the monthly Body of Elder’s Manuals and Letters. There’s the child abuse database that the Watchtower will not acknowledge. Here’s one story regarding it here at PBS.
The one website that deals with this issues is Silent Lambs.
Here’s another resource that you may find handy for insight.
Back to our subject matter. The last two paragraphs were where we spend 45 minutes in deep discussion.
I asked the question, “What does the organization believe about the resurrection of Jesus?” The elder said, “We believe what the bible teaches.” So I ask, “what happened to Jesus’ body?” The answer I got was, “Jehovah dissolved it into nothing.” That was my time to capitalize on this. So I said, let’s read I Peter 3:18. It’s rendered in the New World Translation this way, For Christ died once for all time for sins, a righteous person for unrighteous ones, in order to lead you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.
Notice the words, “made alive in the spirit.” The Jehovah’s Witness essentially sees, “Jesus was made into a spirit.” This is where things got interesting. The main conductor had to use the bathroom so I waited for him to get back and I said, “this isn’t completely fitting with what I see in the bible, do you mind taking a look at some verses?” “Of course not” is the response I get. So here we go, I read the following verses :
From there, I explained things. Let’s address each one:
I Peter 3:18-I explained that being made alive in the spirit is completely different from being made into a spirit.
Matthew 27:60-66-The question I asked is this, “if Jesus was to be raised as a spirit, what really was the point of the rock in front of the tomb since Jehovah was ‘going to dissolve the body (the guards would have prevented the body from being taken)?’”
John 2:18-21-The simple question is this, “How could Jesus raise up a physical body if it was going to be dissolved and he be raised as a spirit?” This is the set of verses that became a HUGE sticking point.
Luke 24:37-43-“Why is Jesus openly declaring that he is NOT a spirit and demonstrates this by being handled and eating food?”
I posed all of this as an “individual who’s on the outside looking in.” I wanted a good explanation.
This is where the battle began. On one hand, as I’m asking these questions, the other JW admitted, “I see why you’re saying there’s a physical body for Jesus at the resurrection (that was a big open admission but the elder quickly tried to take control).
The notion of “believing what the bible teaches” was paid lip service. The verses above are not only what the organization refuses to believe but it’s in stark contrast with organizational teaching. That’s the battle-is the bible correct which contradicts the organization or the organization correct which contradicts the bible?
So the elder “strikes back.” The most devastating set of verses was Luke to him where Jesus is declaring, “I’m not a spirit.” He says, well you know, the bible says, “flesh and blood CANNOT inherit the kingdom of heaven.” I wholeheartedly agreed with him (I Corinthians 15:50). He bought in Hebrews 9:12, 13 as well. I said was able to directly address using I Peter 3:18 (made alive in the spirit) and Luke 24:37-43. I responded that Jesus prior to his death had a body just like ours where blood is “what made it go.” However, his resurrection body was one that wasn’t made alive by blood, but it was “made alive by the spirit.” I again agreed with the verse in Hebrews. However, in the Watchtower mindset, one becomes a “spirit creature” when resurrected.
He stated that angels can materialize and take different forms. This again I agreed with. However, if Jesus would have done that he’d have violated I Peter since it would be considered “deceit” in the aspect that he would have “manufactured" the wounds in his body. The janitor’s husband bought up the “sons of God and daughters of men” from Genesis. I agreed that could have been the case. The conductor further tried to bring in another set of scriptures. He brought up the account on the Road to Emmaus covered in Luke 24:13-22. He asked me for a quick synopsis of this passage. So I gave it and knowing the little bit about Watchtower theology, I knew where he was going to go. He focused on verse 16 which says (NWT), but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
So I used a simple word picture as an illustration. I said, (pointing to the elder) you are Jesus in this instance. John (not the janitor’s husband’s real name) and myself are on the road to Emmaus. Jesus (elder) didn’t change his form. The eyes of myself and John were prevented. We were personally prevented, you (Jesus) didn’t change at all nor does the scriptures say so. This didn’t go over well since the organization teaches Jesus materialized in different forms. So he goes for soul sleep….
I’m asked to look at Ecclesiastes 9:5. I’m like isn’t this about soul sleep? They said, yes it is. Hence Jesus could not have raised himself from the grave. I thought about connecting this to Romans 10:9 and I Peter 1:21 where “God raised Jesus” from the dead and connecting this back to John 2:18-21. However, I didn’t. The seed was already planted and I was allowing them to do damage control at this point. I briefly bought in Revelation 6:9-11 where individuals who were slain are “crying out and speaking” This means one is conscious after death. However, I allowed them to give an explanation and again asked, “what’s symbolic and what’s literal? So I said, we can address soul sleep another day. Both sides agreed to finish for the day.
Normally they want to chit chat but today was not the day. Please pray for these fellas as in the case of one (janitor’s husband) he is receptive in some ways to what I say and he’s making the attempt to “be a Barean” and search the scriptures with what I’m saying. The elder is a bit of a different matter. He listens to what I have to say yet I get the Watchtower “scripted answer.” Also, I was requested to find information on what the Jews thought in relation to the afterlife, is it a conscious existence or an unconscious one? Please remember to pray for these folks.