Today was a most interesting meeting. We were going to discuss the Holy Spirit but ended up talking about the “spirit” that resides in a person. As they were coming up, the kids greeted them. I was in the kitchen filling up my water bottle and noticed they had a youngerish guy out of the corner of my eye.
They come in and introduce him. “Bill” wanted to go out in the “ministry” but didn’t have a partner. The custodian’s husband said, “he’s not here to overwhelm, he just didn’t have anyone to go out with him.” Since I had never met him before, I got to know a little bit about him as well. Bill’s a nice guy who has a secular job that I’m guessing keeps him from attending meetings since there are 24 hours shifts at times. As he talked, he moved from the city to suburbia/rural area. He said he’s never going to move back to a city again.
Without going to far into the Trinity, I gave “Bill” a very quick rundown after asking if the elder or the custodian’s husband had said anything about me prior to the arrival. He responded they did a bit but I took a few minutes to explain.
In the midst of talking, I mentioned the to third Witness the history I’ve had with the elder and I won’t say much more outside of it’s been five years since I first met him. Also, we’ve been working through the What Does the Bible Really Teach? book for the past year. The elder interjected that the Trinity Diagram I used is online (looks like he’s doing investigating on his end now which is REALLY good) and the custodian’s husband talked about the Athanasian Creed. I mentioned that the creed was essentially used to give a concise definition as to what was believed. To avoid an argument, I said that there are a number of Early Church Father quotes that literally say, “Jesus is God.” I asked Bill if he heard of the Early Church Fathers. He stammered a bit but did admit he did not. I gave a very quick rundown as to who they actually were. I spoke of them from the historical context.
The elder was quick to jump in and say that they were not linked to Paul and others listed in the Bible. The elder said he can’t accept it if it’s not in the Bible since it’s not inspired to which I agreed and was approaching from the historical perspective. I said how that was going to lead us into the Holy Spirit (or holy spirit for them) and that was our segway.
The custodian’s husband went into scripture and pulled out the following verses:
Luke 1:35 (New World Translation)-In answer the angel said to her: “Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you. And for that reason the one who is born will be called holy, God’s Son.
Acts 1:13-16 (New World Translation)-When they arrived, they went up into the upper room where they were staying. There were Peter as well as John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bar·tholʹo·mew and Matthew, James the son of Al·phaeʹus, and Simon the zealous one, and Judas the son of James. 14. With one purpose all of these were persisting in prayer, together with some women and Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers. 15. During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (the number* of people was altogether about 120) and said: 16 “Men, brothers, it was necessary for the scripture to be fulfilled that the holy spirit spoke prophetically through David about Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.
The next one he wasn’t so sure of so I asked, “are you referring to the day of Pentecost?” Custodian’s husband, “yes. Let’s look at chapter two, verses one to four. That’s when the spirit was manifested.”
My question started by saying from “Christendom,” to which the elder cuts me off saying, “that’s a common word and I was just reading a newspaper article the other day that used the exact same term.” I responded by saying, “it’s probably those under the ‘umbrella’ of Christianity. Remember how when we discussed the Trinity we both used the same word?” Elder, “yes.” I think that’s probably what we have here. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society would define “Christendom as those not under Christianity” to which the elder said, “they are not.” The elder joked that I hadn’t seen it. Even the custodian’s husband had picked up where I was going for in that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society uses it in context to everybody but them.
So I did have a doctrinal question for them regarding tongues, to which I was telling Bill that Christianity allows for a lot of variety. This was applicable to verse five. I asked if they believed in tongues to which the elder said it was only at the day of Pentecost. The elder then said, “some in Chri.. (he was going for Christendom I think) the churches believe one can speak in tongues or ‘jibberish’ that some feel the Holy Spirit comes upon a person.” He further went on to essentially say that there’s no biblical support for this. I told him in response that those who believe in this based it on I Corinthians 14:2. I had the new guy Bill read this verse. His body language immediately changed once he saw with his eyes and spoke with his mouth. The elder’s demeanor changed since he was answered directly from the Bible with something he never (I presume) saw before either and his statement was directly refuted using Scripture alone.
Next up was I Corinthians 8:6. The custodian’s husband said there’s a separation.
Acts 5:32 (New World Translation)-And we are witnesses of these matters, and so is the holy spirit, which God has given to those obeying him as ruler.”
Acts 13:8-11 (New World Translation)-But Elʹy·mas the sorcerer (for that is how his name is translated) began opposing them, trying to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 Then Saul, also called Paul, becoming filled with holy spirit, looked at him intently 10 and said: “O man full of every sort of fraud and every sort of villainy, you son of the Devil, you enemy of everything righteous, will you not quit distorting the right ways of Jehovah? 11 Look! Jehovah’s hand is upon you, and you will be blind, not seeing the sunlight for a time.” Instantly a thick mist and darkness fell on him, and he went around trying to find someone to lead him by the hand.
Paul was filled with holy spirit to do this the custodian’s husband said.
Exodus 31:3 (New World Translation)-I will fill him with the spirit of God, giving him wisdom, understanding, and knowledge of every kind of craftsmanship,
Exodus 35:30-35 (New World Translation)-Then Moses said to the Israelites: “See, Jehovah has chosen Bezʹal·el the son of Uʹri the son of Hur of the tribe of Judah. 31He has filled him with the spirit of God, giving him wisdom, understanding, and knowledge of every sort of craftsmanship 32 for making artistic designs, for working with gold, silver, and copper, 33 for cutting and setting stones, and for making all kinds of artistic wood products. 34And he has put it into his heart to teach, he and O·hoʹli·ab the son of A·hisʹa·mach of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all the work of a craftsman, an embroiderer, and a weaver using blue thread, purple wool, scarlet material, and fine linen, and of a loom worker. These men will do every sort of work and prepare every sort of design.
I looked at the elder and said, “I’m waiting for your thoughts.” So as I’m given the floor, I asked for some attributes.
I further went on and talked about the Hebrew Interlinear and asked if Bill knew what an interlinear was. “No” he responded and I said check inside the JW Library App and you’ll see how it has one for the Greek Scriptures. He knew then what I was referring to. I proceeded, “the organization has never for whatever reason produced a Hebrew Interlinear. I talked specifically in reference to Genesis 1:2 which is here: http://biblehub.com/interlinear/genesis/1-2.htm.
As I was looking for “spirit,” the custodian’s husband was on it faster than I was and saw “spirit” before I did and pointed it on out. He then had to say “for anything to be accomplished, one has to be active” which is a good deflection attempt on his part. The elder added on a little bit as well.
The other attributes included baptize. The elder then said once Jesus was baptized he was now able to accomplish the mission that he was sent for. Other attributes mentioned:
The new guy referred to the fruitage of the spirit in Galatians
The elder proceeded to say one cannot sin against “holy spirit” but one can sin against the Son. I wanted clarification on “grieving the holy spirit” and he wanted me to define it. I responded by using this example, “if the elder is my father and he’s brought me up the right way and I choose to ignore him, would that be grieving?” The new guy asked, “so what you’re saying is it’s not apostasy where you are going and talking to different people, but it’s just personal?” I responded in the affirmative.”
So I did break out a minor powerpoint and started creating it literally 45 minutes before they had arrived. I started explaining that of the three between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, He is the one that’s going to show up the least amount of the time. I started with the Early Church Fathers and the elder forcefully interjects, “that’s where I have an issue, they never say they were taught by the apostle Paul or by the apostle Peter.” Here’s one example I wish to present next time around: https://www.gotquestions.org/Polycarp.html. If any of you readers out there can help me out, please feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com. He then proceeded to say, “the first century had those who were being led astray. Who are they?” Me-they would be the ones who didn’t do things in accordance with Galatians 1:8, 9 (NWT). Him, “how do we know it wasn’t them?” My response, “if you examine all their writings, is it in line with what Paul spoke of?” The elder said the organization does research and writes articles about them when they are correct but doesn’t touch in other areas.” I responded that I was merely looking at the historical aspect as what was said.
This is an incomplete copy of the Holy Spirit presentation I have:
Slide 2-I emphasize speaking of one God and the elder just has to jump in immediately. I ignore and keep going. I further went on to say I see the Spirit as having specific attributes of personality. He interrupts again and I ask for him to just “bear with me and allow me to continue.” The custodian’s husband laughs and says, “he likes rattling your chain” which helps remove any tension.
Slide 3-2 Corinthians 3:17 the elder equated wherever Jehovah’s Spirit is there’s freedom. The way I understood him is he equated the two to be the same (Jehovah) in this instance.
Acts 28:25 bullet point-Two separate beings being equated to the same person. The elder had to reread and verify that what I was saying was true.
Hebrews 3:7-Major implication is direct attribution of the Holy Spirit being equated as Jehovah.
Slide 5-I was sure to note that this was printed and would have been inspected by Jesus during the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society’s self proclaimed examining period. I was sure to highlight the difference as it jumped out to me. They didn’t respond. and that leads to slide 6.
Slide 6-We started off reading in a round robin format. I had asked for a round robin format of verses five through 15. I went a tad further by utilizing Strong’s Concordance.
I took the attributes and dug a little deeper by saying one must have a mind to speak, think, hear, all of which we as people can do and deduce the Holy Spirit must be as well. In return the elder said that “personification” is being used and that it necessarily isn’t a “he.” He wanted to use Romans 5:14-15 as support. I responded that although at times can be given personality I responded by reemphasizing the above with speaking through thinking. The elder said when Stephen died the Holy Spirit was not seen (I wasn’t quick enough to say that He was present on Earth performing what Jesus said in John). He deduced that because the Holy Spirit isn’t sitting with Jesus and the Father. He concluded that no where in scripture are all three present together at all. He was curious where is the Holy Spirit ever seen to support.
So I said, that Scripture does not mention the Holy Spirit being worshipped. I directly mentioned how the elder referenced Jesus’ baptism. The Father is speaking, the Holy Spirit is descending as a dove, the Son is in the water. He had to deflect by saying the Holy Spirit was seen as a bird. His contention is He’s not seen as a person anywhere as a physical being. However he said Jehovah is a physical being even though I responded with John 1:18. The elder said Isaiah saw him in a vision which I let him go but it violates John 1:18. In Ezekiel he sees Him and Moses sees him (I believe it’s the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ).
I responded by talking about roles in the Kingdom Hall. The elder has a title (he was quick to say he doesn’t want to be viewed as special) and are responsible for “shepherding the flock of God” so people look to you whether it’s wanted or not. Everyone has the same human nature however, the elder has a function where one can direct something to be done.
They took things to the woman with the issue of blood found in Mark 5:25-34. I agreed with him to a point but I took him to Philippians 2:5-11.
From here, I jumped back to their previous point as to where all three are found. I briefly talked about the following verses off the top of my head:
Matthew 28:19 (New World Translation)-Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit
From here I started running them through the “Trinity Comparison Chart” and didn’t get no further than John 1:1 (the infamous “a” added in front of God) and the elder interjected. I jokingly explained today is not the day for this verse. “Shockingly” the elder took issue with Acts 5:3-4 (New World Translation)-3. But Peter said: “An·a·niʹas, why has Satan emboldened you to lie+ to the holy spirit+ and secretly hold back some of the price of the field? 4. As long as it remained with you, did it not remain yours? And after it was sold, was it not in your control? Why have you thought up such a deed as this in your heart? You have lied, not to men, but to God.”
He said that a sin was committed but the holy spirit is a mere “extension” of the will of God. I referred them to a modern example of the Trinity using the two of them. I had to explain that nature is the same however the function is different hence the Holy Spirit can be directed to do something.
The “fun” started with the resurrection. So the question is “who resurrects Jesus?”
Father-1 Thessalonians 1:10
Jesus-John 2:19-21, 10:17
Before I could fully explain, the elder jumps in and says “the apostle Peter lied.” I asked for him to let me continue. I emphasized the personal pronoun of “I.”
Holy Spirit-Romans 8:11
The elder interrupted yet again and said, “it doesn’t make sense. How does it work?” He goes on to explain Pentecost. He circled back around and said that God resurrected Jesus, Jesus resurrected himself.” He further went on to keep talking about kept using modalism that Jesus didn’t exalt himself to the right hand of the Father. I asked what is his point so I can understand what he said. He genuinely asked, “was Jesus resurrected twice? How was he resurrected by two separate individuals?”
I asked for a moment to add to the confusion. I read Romans 8:11 (New World Translation) and took a few moments to formulate an answer. To help them conceptualize this, I answered from the perspective of football since they’ve had a lot of difficulty trying to understand.
In the middle there’s one team, but each has different roles and responsibilities. This seemed to help as the elder himself said, “there’s one purpose.” We have thee different types of players, each one doing essentially the same thing (helping the team score) but they are totally different in how they go about it.
To summarize, I said there’s one specific action which was the resurrection yet we have thee different parts doing the exact thing but Scripture doesn’t say exactly how it worked supernaturally. At the very least the elder did say he understood and I responded good yet he was very quick to point out that the diagram is not in the Bible. The elder took this a step further by going into “soul sleep.”
It was centered on Jesus raising Himself (I believe the wheels were turning). He said that if Jesus was still conscious, He never truly died. My response, “we are definitely going away from the Holy Spirit” and it drew a laugh but this is a central Christian doctrine, the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The elder said that Jesus had to be human. His difficulty was understanding how could Jesus of physically died?
My answer started in Philippians 2:5-11 (New World Translation). As I read through it, I explained it to make it easy for them to understand.
I directly referenced how they were talking about soul sleep. I started breaking down the differences a little bit. I then bought up the example of Jesus when he was about to die. The elder pipes in “Father, into thy hands I commit thy spirit.” Luke 23:46. Next up was the “outward man is decaying,” elder finishes it, “inward man being renewed day by day,” II Corinthians 4:16. I asked if someone wanted to read it and the new guy volunteered. I pulled out Acts 7:59, 60. I said “Lord Jesus receive my” pausing for the elder to which he responded, “spirit.”
I capped it by saying affirmatively that Jesus died. The body went into the ground and the Father who sits in heaven would receive His spirit so we have two completely different locations being emphasized here. If we would focus on Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10 we have soul sleep (I obviously don’t believe it but was merely giving them some ground to gain more regarding the existence of a spirit in a person). I said, Biblically speaking to which I agree that Jesus did die, and I’m trying to add to Scripture, Jesus’ spirit was with the Father and He was directly referring to His spirit to raise the body from the tomb. The elder further deflected by saying that “God lied in the garden of Eden that by eating of the fruit one would die. There’s no equilibrium/balance of being equal to Adam.” “Did Adam have a spirit that continued after he died?”
He did admit that they don’t believe anything survives after death. He said that neither early Jews or Moses believed in this. I said that I will do my best answer the next time they come on out.
In closing I have a few things I need to do:
- Discuss Philippians 4:3 has Clement of Rome
- Use I Thessalonians 5:23 for body, soul, and spirit
- Answer them regarding their “corresponding ransom.”
I ask that you continue to pray for these guys. There are times where the elder seems to give his “Watchtower response” yet there are other times where he’s asking for a genuine answer. The custodian’s husband is from what I can tell able to pick up on things a tad more quickly and usually sits quietly even though he’s “leading” the meeting I’m having. Last and not least was the new guy. I don’t know if he’ll be back but as I was chatting, he was taking making a great effort to look at the scriptures and verity what I was saying was actually correct.