Hello and after two weeks, I had my material for the day ready to go so I ended up not really using a whole lot of it as this was a very unexpected twist in our biweekly meetings that we have. Let’s dig in…..
My boys heard them pulling into the driveway. My youngest who’s four was screaming “I can play the Wii!” He was banned after breaking a remote for two weeks. The elder starts chatting with him from outside and they come on inside. My middle child had trouble with the Wii since it’s not been setting correctly so I simply turned the television onto a nature channel and they were talking about sharks. The elder thought it was a mako shark on television. We determined after a few minutes that it was a great white and it was tracked traveling from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to North Carolina. This naturally led into a marine wildlife conversation.
We then spoke about:
- Japanese whaling
- Killer whale hunting seals (the custodian’s husband said he couldn't watch the seals get eaten)
- Killer whale hunting blue whales
They asked about the size of the blue whale so I ended up looking for that online.
We talked for a few minutes about whales and The elder was talking about the whaling operation in Aruba. I was tempted to talk about my military time in Aruba BUT figured the less I talk about the military, the better off I am.
We circled back eating and the custodian’s husband started talking about a Witness who’s at a neighboring hall who was stationed in Japan. That witness said, “the Japanese will pull anything out of the ocean and simply eat it.” Bringing it closer to home, the custodian’s husband (he’s retiring June 15) stated talking about his friend’s kids who ran over rattlesnakes. They ate them too. I was able to chime in and add how reptiles sill move around long after they’re dead and spoke about my gutting experience with a snapping turtle.
Once finished I asked how the elder’s new grandson was doing. There was an instant beam across his face and after scrolling, he showed me a picture of his coworker’s young child as well. After talking about eating dog, we moved into the material.
Moving into the material, I remarked, “it’s going to be a short one.” Turns out I was extremely wrong. Moving into the material, the chapter title is: “Are We Living in ‘the Last Days’?” I immediately said, “I have a question.” The elder said, “prior to your questions, how about you answer the opening questions on page 86 of “What Does the Bible Really Teach?”:
- What events in our time were foretold in the Bible?
What does God’s Word say people would be like in “the last days”?
- Regarding “the last days,” what good things does the Bible foretell?
Responses from me:
Response 1: Matthew 24 (talks about signs of the end)
Response 2: The chapter brings it out here but lovers of mammon, self, pleasure, etc. “That’s in 1 Timothy 3” the custodian’s husband chimed in.
Response 3: Basically, it’s not going to last forever. That response drew a laugh from the elder.
The elder continued by saying, “we normally start to know what your initial thoughts are on it” to which I continued, “yes and you can gauge where the person is at as well.” The custodian’s husband then says, “so what’s your question?” I prefaced by saying, “you guys know I do extra looking around and whatnot.” Elder, “Um hmm.” Me, “so with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, it’s used numerous dates throughout it’s history as from its roots in the Adventists. 1914 we talked a little about last week (it’s in that PDF document that you can download), 1925 was the ‘Millions Now Living Will Never Die’ campaign, 1941 (the custodian’s husband said he hadn’t heard of that one), Armageddon was supposed to come but didn’t,” (I told them I’d find the actual quote) to which I stopped and looked online. This is what they saw when I typed in: https://www.google.com/search?q=1941+armageddon+quote+children&oq=1941+armageddon+quote+children&aqs=chrome..69i57.15415j0j9&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
I clicked on the first one for the website JW Facts
Quick scan to 1941 and you’ll see the following:
Receiving the gift, the marching children clasped it to them, not a toy or plaything for idle pleasure, but the Lord’s provided instrument for most effective work in the remaining months before Armageddon.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. September 15, 1941 p. 288
“Ok,” said the elder. So I went with this quote and not from the book Children.
I quickly apologized that with my wording. I emphasized, “a few months.” The elder was across the table and said, “it doesn’t say ‘when Armageddon was going to happen.’” I had to go back and say again, “few remaining months. It was written in September 1941, so let’s give it up to a year.” The elder cut me off, “the Watchtower is dated because all Watchtowers are dated. It doesn’t give an actual date to know as to when Armageddon was to actually occur. There’s nothing in the context to say when it’s going to happen. Me, “look at the context of when it was printed.” Elder (cutting me off), “you CAN’T go by that.” To diffuse, I said, “I’m on the outside looking in.” The elder agreed to let me go on. Continuing, I said, outsider perspective, let’s give it just less than a year for multiple months.
Nothing was happening from the American perspective except for World War II. The war started though in 1939. There’s various allusions to 1975. (I’m presenting the Truth that Leads to Eternal Life book at this point) to which the custodian’s husband said, “my parents went by that book. They sold their homes because they thought the end was coming.” I did a double take and confirmed by saying, “your parents sold their home?” The custodian’s husband, “they thought the end was coming. They thought 6,000 years of human existence ended in 1975. They thought the end was going come as a result of that.”
Side note, this video here goes over the overwhelming majority of quotes with open statements and allusions to 1975, you can decide if it’s the individual Witness who were culpable for this date or the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society:
Continuing on, I showed them this and said, “I know this is old light as you guys would say” (both guys laughed at this). Here’s the quote I focused on:
Also, as reported back in 1960, a former United States Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, declared that our time is “a period of unequaled instability, unequaled violence.” And he warned” “I know enough of what is going on to assure you that, in fifteen years from today, this world is going to be too dangerous to live in.”
The Truth that Leads to Everlasting Life. 1968. p. 9
I didn’t get to this portion but look and see how this quote is revised in the 1981 printing and he’s now misquoted:
I said that, "I know you don’t write this stuff but can you further define “last days? Continuing I spoke about how the Society utilizes dates.” Custodian’s husband, “let’s look at Matthew 24:36 and he read it aloud. Jehovah only knows what’s going to happen. We just try to discern and things have gotten worse from then till now.”
The elder chimes continues on, “1960 to 1975 things got a lot worse from when I graduated high school in 1975 (elder) and when I was in Washington D.C. I could walk around without fear. However 1975 that wasn’t the case. He mentioned events from the Civil Rights Era. To further on, he talked about things that have cropped up at times. Now people are immune to bad events that happen if it’s not directly dealing with them. Why does Jehovah’s organization speak of the last days? It’s based on scripture. Paul spoke about things in II Timothy 3:1-5. What was Paul talking about? I mentioned based on the chapter and other verses not emphasized that it was events at that time.”
Side note-I learned today, they have multiple categories of “last days.”
I had to excuse myself and look at II Timothy 3:1-5 real quick as the verses eluded me momentarily. Elder, “what last days was he talking about?” I replied by looking at verse eight we see two names: Jannes and Jambres who are two individuals specifically mentioned who had been exposed to the truth (although it’s connected with Moses) yet chose to consciously ignore. Paul is talking about present time though.
I further went on to contrast Paul and those two fellas. I equated this to wheat and tares where a good crop would arise and so would a bad crop simultaneously (Matthew 13:24-30). This directly parallels true and false Christians. The true Christian is willing to suffer as Paul did and the false ones “live it up.”
Elder goes back to verse two. “Did Paul give a date for the end times?” Me, “No.” The elder continues, “A lot of times Jesus gave a ‘composite sign’ that’s a parallel time. He asked what was going on in Jerusalem at the time II Timothy was written (66 A.D.).” Me:Roman oppression, the Jews wanted Jesus to be a king and get rid of them, and the last part (it was a three part question).
Elder-I forgot. We all started laughing very hard.
I went on to reiterate that it’s been going on from then till now. I then proceeded to mention the Catholic Church (the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is very anti-Catholic). The elder then piped in, “Jehovah wanted his word to spread and he did allow the Catholics to help with that. Me, “Using them as the common denominator, we can thank a Catholic for chapter verse divisions in the bible (Archbishop Stephen Langston for chapters) and continuing I spoke about the indulgence utilized, then with lovers of pleasure I specifically said, not every priest is bad but this is something the Catholic Church has had to come to grips with considering it was a massive cover up (the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society still tries to cover this up).” The custodian’s husband added in a bit and the elder said, “they are no different then the Jews with the ‘appearance of godliness.’ Jews became apostates.”
He continued, the apostasy came in the year 100. How do we know that (he just looked at me)? I respond, I’m waiting on you. Eruption of laughter. I told the elder to continue. He proceeded to talk about restraints and what it meant to the first century congregation. I asked for a scripture and he said a lot. He went to II Thessalonians 2. He gives explanation that it’s not a single individual.
Here’s II Thessalonians 2:1-9 of the New World Translation:
- However, brothers, concerning the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you
- not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be alarmed either by an inspired statement or by a spoken message or by a letter appearing to be from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here.
- Let no one lead you astray in any way, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness+ gets revealed, the son of destruction.
- He stands in opposition and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits down in the temple of God, publicly showing himself to be a god.
- Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I used to tell you these things?
- And now you know what is acting as a restraint, so that he will be revealed in his own due time.
- True, the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who is right now acting as a restraint is out of the way.
- Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence.
- But the lawless one’s presence is by the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and wonders
Verses 1 and 2 are a warning. The time is not now but is coming.
Paul is talking about not getting shaken or accepting what is said as being truth. The apostasy had to come first before any indication that Jehovah’s day was arrive. Who is acting as the restraint in verse six? Me, “This is where we are definitely going to see a difference. I have some notes here and the Watchtower is basically saying,” the elder cuts me off and says, “I’m reading it from the Bible,” I continued, “I understand and I’m reading it from the Bible too, I’m just trying to understand what the Watchtower’s viewpoint is essentially saying that the first century congregation who were in charge.” Elder, “who was in charge?” Me, the elders and whatnot (I failed to specify that it was local elders not one centralized body as the Society teaches). Elder, what were they called,” me-if you’re going for ‘governing body’ we don’t see that term in the bible, I just wanted to make sure. What I’m seeing is something prophetic being mentioned here.” Explaining further, I took them back to verse three. I said, “we are all men.” However, there is “the” man who is a single individual. Verse four is a setting yet to happen and the temple needs to get built and the antichrist is going to sit in this temple. Verses six and seven have the Greek come into play. We presently have people declaring that they are God however, the temple has not been built at present. Elder, “so you’re saying it’s a physical temple?” Me, “yes I am.” We have a single person, sitting in a physical temple to be built. We had two temples destroyed, (587/586 B.C. and 70 A.D.) and it talks about the third one. So I read the keynote in my Bible and it says:
Paul prefers here to Holy Spirit who is the restraining force in this world, carving the many little antichrists and the final antichrist who will appear in connection with the Second Coming of the Lord (I Jn. 2:18). The Holy Spirit is called to katechon (2722), in the neuter, even as the Holy Spirit is, for the most part, called to Hagion Pneuma, also in the neuter. In v. 7 it is ho katechon, “he who holds fast retains or restrains.” The antichrist cannot now, be able to do anything without the specific permission of the Holy Spirit who regulates the events of the world to accomplish God's eternal plan. Of course, v. 7 does not refer to a departure of the Holy Spirit from the world. The Holy Spirit has always been accomplishing the will of the triune God from the beginning. There are specific times, however, when the Holy Spirit has come in unique ways even as the Lord Jesus did in His incarnation and will do so in His Second Coming. The same Holy Spirit at Pentecost, at Caesarea, and at Ephesus as the agent of Christ baptizing the believers into his body. The reference here is not to the departure of the Holy Spirit, what to the removal of his restraining power. This will allow certain things to take place in order to accomplish gods plan according to his own timetable.
(If you were curious about the notes my New American offers, here’s a direct link: https://www.christianbook.com/nasb-study-bible-genuine-black-leather/9780899577531/pd/577531#CBD-PD-Description)
I read the definition and reiterated that’s the difference. Elder, “that’s actual Greek there?” Me “yes it is.” (Implication-this predates the organization and the wheel is turning mentally). I offered to send this picture to them so that they can read it on their own.
Elder, “they are calling the Holy Spirit a ‘he’ like the Trinity?” I responded by saying “we’d have to define what the Trinity would be. The word ‘Trinity’ is used and you may think one thing, yet I think something completely different. We need to come to a common working definition as to what the Trinity actually is. So hypothetically, we are talking about the same thing there are times where we can literally talk past one another.” Elder, “so do you believe that the Trinity exists?” (I knew where this was leading and we managed to dance at times around it over the past year but not today). I continued on, “I believe we could define it from Scripture, again, how does the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society define what the Trinity is vice how would I define what the Trinity is.” Elder, “I understand what you’re saying but I want the Bible to define what the Trinity is. That’s where we go to see if we can find the Trinity in the Bible. Of course the word isn’t in the Bible. Where does it come from? Where did the idea come from? Was it spoken of in the first century? Did the apostles speak of it? Or did it come later? Where in the bible can you find it and see where does the Trinity exist? I responded, “Do you want to try and tackle this a little bit?” Laughter ensues. Custodian’s husband says, “well we’ve deviated off the lesson.” I suggested we take time and talk about this a little bit. I commandeered the television from the kids and hooked in my computer to the television. While I was setting up, the elder was trying to get the custodian’s husband wi-fi to work (we’ve been trying for months). I had them move over to the couch and get comfy. The elder excused himself to the bathroom first and I jokingly said, “I wasn’t expecting a conversation like this and the custodian’s husband and myself laughed.” I got his iPad since I was going to have him read scriptures as we were going throughout.
Below is a presentation for you to utilize and look at as I write to it below.
The major thrust of it is from this video on YouTube:
Please take this and look at it. I’ll explain some things.
Side note-If you are not a Jehovah’s Witness, often there is a “language barrier” when speaking to one or (or Mormons for that matter) and you’ll see what I mean.
Take a look at slide number two. When you see this term “football” what comes to mind? Take your thought process and go to the third slide. Let’s take your term and compare that a little bit.
Rest of world-What people in the United States call “football” is radically different from other parts of the world. What people in the United States call “soccer” is called “football” in other parts of the world. The elder picked up on it immediately when I said soccer.
Australia-Their brand of football is similar in many respects to rugby.
Texas-There are six and eight man football teams there. This is contrary to what most consider American football with 11 people from one team on the field at one point.
Levels in United States-The custodian’s husband loves ‘da Bears, I mistook the elder’s favorite team for the Baltimore Ravens when he’s a Washington Redskins fan. I jokingly asked him to “leave the house” since I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan (yes I live in the land of perpetual yearly disappointment).
For my example I focused specifically on American Football field hashmarks. From the junior high/high school level to college and ending with the professional ranks, the hash marks are set closer on each field.
Summary on this-Each place where football is played does have an overlap in vocabulary HOWEVER, the major difference is the dictionary tied to it. That’s what I was driving at yet I never got a solid definition from them as to what the Trinity actually is.
There is an overlap in all using a ball, have lines on the field, and have 11 players (obviously not six and eight man teams). Major differences are ball shape, arrangement of lines, and types of bodies on the field (soccer players have fairly similar builds, American football not so much). Hence each one can talk about something from their view point to be correct yet talk right past the other person.
Slide four-We’ve come to the common consensus that there is no word “Trinity” in the Bible. I further went on saying that there are a lot of words that we use that are not in the Bible. “Bible” is a prime example. I went on to say, that I believe the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has a different definition. It was a few months ago where the custodian’s husband was talking about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. I vividly remember him saying, “who’d Jesus pray to in the garden, himself?!?” I bought that up and did not receive an objection. I told him I’d show how it fits in. I had offered to have them record me speaking. The elder wasn’t interested yet the custodian’s husband was. However, he deleted the voice memos off his iPad so we just had to roll without.
Slide five-sets the stage.
Slide six-I asked if they know what it is. The elder said, “you tell me.” So I offered the hint of “Hindu.” Elder-they believe in a Trinitarian God. Me (not wanting to burst his bubble even though he’s totally off) “yes and no. I reiterated, “that’s part of the problem, we don’t have a common working definition.”
Slide seven-Polytheism. I used the three of us as an example so they can get a simple word picture.
Slide nine-I explained and said that’s where I believe that’s where the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is going to fall.
Slide 10-I said “a guy named ‘Arius.’” (he shows up favorably at times in Watchtower literature even though he was involved with astrology).
Slide 12-I referred back to the “Jesus praying to himself example.”
Slide 13-I asked if they ever heard of a “Oneness Pentecostal.” They had not. The elder had only heard of just the last part of “Pentecostal.” I bought up Kim Davis, Kentucky law clerk who was jailed in 2015 for refusing to issue same-sex licenses. (If you have forgotten about her, here’s an article: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/09/09/splainer-whats-apostolic-christian-and-why-kim-davis-hair-so-long/71947018/)
Slide 15-(they got really quiet and were intently listening to this explanation) I emphasized that the term God is the “common essence.” I wanted to make sure they were following me and they are.
Slide 18-Ties everything together.
Slide 20-No argument in the least bit and I asked for that common agreement which I got. I actually took attention off the Holy Spirit and turned the focus towards Jesus since Jesus is going to be “easier” to address.
Slide 21 (and following)-I was going to have everyone trade off and read verses. The elder wasn’t really wanting to do this so much and remarked after getting a text message, “my wife just got in to her mom’s house up in Vermont.” I chatted a few moments about that but I was not going to let this one go today. Some of these verses I elected to get some context so they know precisely who is being addressed. They agreed that there’s a commonality with being all knowing.
Slide 22-I was able to slide in that Jehovah is not the most accurate name but it’s accepted since it’s common. Surprisingly again, no argument.
Slide 23-I had the custodian’s husband read Romans. I read Acts 4:12. I emphasized on can call on Jehovah and the elder interjected “Acts 2:32” to which I agreed. I started in Acts 4:10 for context. I spoke of a possible difference in the New World Translation wording. Salvation is only in Jesus here and calling on Jehovah has the same result.
Slide 24-I emphasized in Hebrews 1:10-12 the writer under inspiration wrote about these same qualities being ascribed specifically to Jesus. I got context starting in Hebrews 1:8. The New World Translation doesn’t allow Jesus to be called “God” and uses this rendering: But about the Son, he says: “God is your throne forever and ever, and the scepter of your Kingdom is the scepter of uprightness.
I obviously didn’t let them read it but here’s how it’s rendered in the New American Standard Bible (and pretty much any other translation): But of the Son He says,“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.
Isaiah 44:24-no one else helped Jehovah. Colossians 1 is the Son creating. This actually fit back with Romans 10 and Acts 4. This led to a slight discussion. Elder said, “our way of thinking is that Jesus didn’t even come to the earth yet. The Christian Greek Scriptures (New Testament) they didn’t know this information. I concurred and said “more is now known.” I referred back to the chart. The Father created and now Paul is saying the Son created. I didn’t want to deviate but I referred to Genesis 1 where the word rendered God is “Elohim” in Hebrew which is more than one. Isaiah is saying one alone, Colossians is saying the Son.
Slide 25-Hebrews 1:3-these last days the elder tried to qualify the last days as being different. “Upholding all things.” “How was Jesus able to do this,” asked the elder. Response, “Since Jesus created everything in Colossians 1:16, 17 and being firstborn (used in context of “preeminence” he has the capability. The elder then added in Matthew 28:18-20. He said Jesus was elevated to a higher position than before.
Slide 26-The elder was saying he has to leave yet didn’t want to cut me off. I read John 14:14. Acts 7:59-60 has Stephen getting stoned and he’s praying to Jesus. Verse 60 in the New World Translation uses “Jehovah.” The New American Standard Bible uses “Lord.”
Slide 27 (I figured the flags would be thrown up here but it gets interesting)-I brought up the Greek word of “proskuneo” being utilized in Hebrews 1:6. No red flag thrown so let’s continue.
Revelation 4:10-No argument since Jehovah is receiving worship alone. Jehovah is listed as the creator. I went on to say, “everyone can worship whomever. There’s false worship and true worship. The Father is rightfully receiving true worship. The elder than quotes Revelation 22:9 (which was perfect as he said it without ANY prompting from me). It says (New World Translation) But he tells me: “Be careful! Do not do that! I am only a fellow slave of you and of your brothers the prophets and of those observing the words of this scroll. Worship God.”
I gave a hearty agreement. I had the custodian’s husband read Revelation 5:11-14.
Chapter 4 said the Father is receiving worship (sometimes called “sacred service” in the New World Translation). Elder tried to interject by saying the Lamb (Jesus) received. However, Revelation 4:11 says about Jehovah receiving as well.
I had to come back to the major thing in verse 13 and 14. The elders worshipped. I brought out the point the elder said in Revelation 22:9 and tied it here. The Son is sitting alongside the Father and the Father doesn’t share his glory with any other (verse eluded initially but it’s Isaiah 42:8) yet here the Father and Son receive the EXACT same thing.
I’m trying to say this as gently as I can, the Watchtower Society says that Jesus is Michael the Archangel yet John fell at the feet of that angel to worship. Those who were around Jesus fell and worshipped. I said to them, “If Jesus is truly an angel, he should of been saying, ‘Don’t fall down or do that at all! Even though I’m alongside the Father, you need to worship Him alone!’ What we have is the elders falling down and simultaneously worshipping the feet of the Father and the feet of the Son (called the Lamb here).” That’s pretty much the gist of things and how I’m seeing it and we didn’t talk much about the Holy Spirit but we saw common attributes. I recapped everything but said, “what seals it for me is Revelation 5:11-14 in heaven where both are receiving worship. It fits in with my chart of being the same yet different.”
The elder cuts in, “the Jews didn’t know who the Messiah was. They knew in Daniel where he was to come but afterwords there was a lot of revelation that the apostles had. John was the final one to write yet none of those things seemed real to the Jews. I understand what your saying how Trinitarians look at it. The Catholics see God being one yet three. That’s where we take issue since the scriptures.” I told them, “if they are looking for an exact definition in the bible, they are not going to find it. I said, “the best way is to find the common set of attributes amongst all three. I know there are specific sets of attributes what it boils down to is the overarching attributes where the three are called “God.” Looking for something specific, I’d say the best is creation and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I went to Genesis and said, “in the beginning God.” Elder, they are speaking and said, “Let us make man in our likeness.” Me-“Having heart to heart, I don’t want to speak for all Trinitaians, the Watchtower position then is, God PLUS an angel created.” I continued, “so how I’m seeing it is essentially the Watchtower is saying, God plus Michael the Archangel, we will create. There’s other verses through the bible that say each one specifically created.” The elder talked about a clearer picture of getting a clarification as to where Jesus fits into the picture.
I went back to Job 33:4 talking about creating. Elder asked a question, “are you saying that the Holy Spirit is a person or just a force?” I openly admitted I don’t have scriptures ready and I did refer to John 16 where the New World Translation uses “it” or “he.” Sometimes He works as a person sometimes, there’s an action. I bought up that Jehovah is a Spirit. Elder-the Holy Spirit does not mention the Holy Spirit having emotion or a will. I replied, “I believe there are and I’ll find them for you for next time dealing with will, mind, emotion.”
I then bought up Matthew 28 and the baptismal formula. To help them picture it we all had the same last name (using the elder’s last name in lieu of God). Each one of us has a similar last name but with different first names. I referred back to the chart to help them conceptualize this a little further in a tangible term. I equated it then that we all still share that sinful human nature.
Elder-He didn’t want to belittle. He was really curious and asked a question about the chart. “We have one God and three separate that come out of it.” I asked him to explain. “Or are all three individual entities that come back to God.” He referred back to that September 15, 1941 Watchtower and my outside perspective. He explained what he is seeing with the chart. The middle circle is one that came out and they are their own separate entities. They are all entities that connect back to God?” From what I understood him to be saying, I thought he was on the right track. I explained that each one shares the same common bond of being God. He explained that’s not what he originally pulled out of it and what he saw originally is what others would understand if they see it for the first time. (Interesting that I never thought of it that way but I appreciated his perspective on that).
I explained further, I started in Genesis where we see the word God. Throughout the Bible we get progressive revelation as to who all “comprises” God. I explained about the Holy Spirit in Job. I referred to the prophetic verse of Isaiah 9:6 where Jesus is called the “Eternal Father.” When we get to the end we see that God has revealed Himself to be a multi-personal being sharing a common essence. The elder said he understood where I was coming from at this point. I asked the custodian’s husband and he said he understood from when I talked about the same sinful nature that we all have.
The elder equated this to Adam. He was called “man” at first. Then he revealed his name as Adam. I told him yes and he started to really get it as well. He openly admitted we see things differently and interjected the son was used to create all “other” things. He then referred to the erroneous New World Translation rendering of Genesis 1:2. I understood how he’s coming from there and jokingly said, “I know you’re not going to believe me right now” which drew laughs but he did say, he understands exactly where “I’m coming from.” I offered the explanation for them and said, “I’m guessing when you go to doors you get them slammed in your face.” He said, “so did Jesus” (I don’t remember seeing that verse). I asked if they sat with a Trinitarian as long as they’ve sat with me (going on just over a year this time and five overall with people from this Kingdom Hall), the elder said no one has taken the time to explain this like I have. I circled back to the terminology that is in use. He said that’s not how the Catholics view the Trinity and I asked to explain yet he said, “I don’t have time” to which we laughed.
I told him that they probably haven’t seen something like this before so that you can study and perhaps dialogue more so they can know what the “Trinitarian” side is saying. The elder then says, “the church you belong to” he started hesitating, I said, “just say it”
He continued, “the Bible unifies us. Why are there so many different Trinity viewpoints and churches throughout the world?” I responded, “Respectfully, there are a few Trinity viewpoints, are you trying to talk more about denominations such as Methodists, Lutherans, etc?” The custodian’s husband says, “we all think the same way world wide.” The elder pipes in, we all supposed to be “Christian” which means we follow Jesus Christ. We do everything like the first century Christians did. They went by what they were directed by the older men in Jerusalem.”
Why is this not done when they supposedly believe the same thing? To clarify, why are there so many versions of Christians. I drew up a simple chart with a few lines to represent the umbrella. of Christianity. I said, “there are some things we see eye to eye, other things we do not.” I threw out the term “Christendom” that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society uses to denote all under the Christian “umbrella” outside the organization. I quickly talked about Evangelicals and I talked about John 3 and how the Society limits it to 144,000 yet Jesus said in John 3:16 there is no limit in the number. We go by the Bible. I simplified it by talking about a lot of latitude in many respects that the Bible does have. I referred to Revelation 2 and 3 for the commendations and condemnations that the churches mentioned have.
I talked about denominations that certain things are emphasized from within the Bible. The Society says “go door to door.” The elder said, “we get what we need to do the research for ourselves and understand what the Bible is teaching.” Me, “So the Society tells you where to specifically look for the material?” The elder replied in the affirmative. He continued that one can do research on their own but they need to make sure it’s credible. You have to be leery since there’s a lot of stuff out there on the internet that can be dismissed. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been directed to check it out. We don’t take the word of anybody for what they say.” He brought up the Bereans in Acts 17. I said that there are good Christian groups and bad ones. The elder said he was a Baptist (to what kind I got no response).
I wanted to summarize by saying that within “Christendom” I brought up Augustin with the saying, “essentials unity, non-essentials liberty, all other things charity.” Majors-what are the majors that all Christians can agree upon? Minor thing from the Watchtower aspect, to which they corrected me is that not every Jehovah’s Witness has to go door to door as an important thing. If it shows not a lot we won’t set our foundation upon it. If it’s something not completely spelled out, I personally like to use Romans 14 of letting your conscience be your guide. I talked about the elder if he had a super expensive Maserati in an area where the people were very poor. The Bible doesn’t talk about owning something very expensive yet it, (elder cuts in), “could cause one to stumble.” I agreed. I used one more example which allowed a lot more latitude and freedom and I said that “Christendom” offers a lot more latitude and flexibility compared to the Watchtower by giving the same resources for the conclusion. Christianity doesn’t say use “X,Y, or Z” and if there’s a different outcome, we can simply agree to disagree.
Elder said, we follow the example of the first century Christians. I replied, “the church I go to can say the exact same thing.” My question is, “what are the essentials to hypothetically consider myself a Jehovah’s Witness?” Contrary what is essential to be considered a Christian?
Elder brings up John 17:3 as the first thing then one grows as a result. Then he talked about the young man who brought up what are the two greatest commandments? The truth then is not very difficult. When one comes to know Jehovah and Christ Jesus and start to appreciate all they’ve done for you one and follow the example of the directions that were written down. Then I got ‘here’s the truth-we serve Jehovah with all that we do. We need reminders hence why we go to so many meetings.’
Side note-any group such as this will often refer back to various commandments since there is a mixture of faith plus works.
So when he was done, I gave a very basic presentation of the gospel.
- God created man perfect and when he sinned he was no longer perfect.
- Commandments were given in part to demonstrate that keeping rules was impossible.
- God himself (being Jesus) came to Earth.
- Jesus lived a perfect sinless life.
- He rose again and I put in I Peter 3:18 versus John 2:18-21 which is clearly written in scripture.
- No matter what we do, we can’t measure up to God’s standard.
- Accept Jesus as your Savior which is a single act (getting saved).
- Demonstrating the love is a continual act afterwords.
Hopefully you will note there is a difference. They have to mix faith PLUS works. I believe the Bible teaches faith is separate from works. The works are an outward showing of the inward change.
So we ended the day as they had to get going. I offered the file to them to which the elder was extremely noncommittal to receiving it (I’ll be emailing it regardless). So the elder excused himself to the bathroom once more and I asked the custodian’s husband if he understood and he said, “I now know where you come from.”
We set our next appointment and they are due to come out June 10th. So we will hopefully get back into the chart a little bit.
Some final thoughts….
Today was a very unexpected BUT a very interesting day. Neither of my Witness friends wanted to give a working definition of the Trinity and both were completely off. However, I was able to give them the definition that they needed and at least (Lord willing) when the Watchtower Society misprints something regarding the Trinity, they can at least know what the Trinity actually is.
I don’t consider myself a strong Christian in the least bit but I was somewhat surprised that they’ve met the longest with me. It’s not super different from Acs 17 when Paul was in the synagogue reasoning with those present. Doing a give and take to establish the relationship with these two got them to sit and listen. I’m wondering in my local area how many take any time to actually speak with these folks?
The gospel was given as a simple clean explanation. I’ve only worked to “plant the seed” and only God will make it grow in accordance with I Corinthians 3:7.
Definitely keep praying for these guys and we are set to meet June 10th.