I’m not a creative person hence the unimaginative title. After a two week hiatus, I was looking forward to getting back into meeting with my friends. They showed up 20 minutes late and prior to them arriving, I was wondering again if they were going to show. They did and we were supposed to start by talking about the Holy Spirit but it was not that in the least bit. Prior to getting the meeting started though, my daughter did make pretzels for so we munched on them and chocolate peanut butter drops. They explained why they were late. The first weekend of the month they decide who they are going to go out door to door with. The elder further explained that during the week they can meet at a particular person’s home when they are going out into a local territory (area they work in).
This led to me asking about if they are assigned to go to a particular Kingdom Hall within their territory. The elder said, “it’s best if you go to a Kingdom Hall close to where you live but you don’t have to go to that one in particular if you don’t want to.” The custodian’s husband goes to a Kingdom Hall that his kids went to even though there is one closer to him. However, none of his children “in the truth” (organization).
This led him to say they are not putting “kingdom interests first” because his kids, my former classmates are “chasing” material possessions in his estimation. This led to a discussion of the rich man in Luke 12 who was going to “tear down his barns and build bigger ones.” Summarizing, we both agreed upon it’s better to be content with what you have and don’t chase material possessions. He took that into a focus of what they are doing out in the ministry-talking about the bible (however they can’t do it without a publication as well).
The custodian’s husband said now due to him being retired, he likes going out more often. His wife is working 10 hours a day during summer. It’s a little bit more difficult for him to go out with her considering on her Friday off, she’s running around her parents.
We started by looking at a video from the organization’s official website. It was a “newbie” video designed to get people interested in the organization. I saw it as being odd but figured they didn’t want to talk about the “bible study” but simply have a generalized conversation. The video talked about internet witnessing and they had talked about the cart witnessing as well. I jokingly asked when the custodian’s husband was going to engage in “internet witnessing” since he’s not tech oriented at all to which we all laughed.
They talked how they do have specific groups like businesses they try to interact with. Then apartment complexes where they can’t solicit but they do send letters. The “cart witnessing” has portable stands is popular metropolitan type approach.
I was also told when there is a territory not assigned to a certain Kingdom Hall, they can go there as they wish. The elder went to Western PA and Utah. The latter was interesting because of the Utah’s heavy Mormon population.
My question in response, “what about college campuses?” I asked in part because the organization historically has a rocky relationship with higher education and to fulfill the Great Commission in Matthew 28, there are many “nations” represented at higher learning institutions. The elder said they have carts once they get permission. Many college students have taken material and studied. This isn’t successful as the chart “
Generational cohort among Jehovah’s Witnesses” here shows a big drop off.
He further went on saying that the organization follows the first century example by having many forms of witnessing. I responded that part of the reason I asked about colleges and universities are groups such as “Campus Crusade for Crusade.” The elder responded that, “they have their reasons for being part of the college. The first century Christians didn’t do anything like that.”
On one hand I agree but on the other hand, the first century Christians had undergone severe persecution, hence there was not much reason to be “above ground.” I talked about “preaching the word everywhere and with a permanent presence one can interact much more frequently and increase visibility and contact, hence those groups benefit.” Deflecting, the elder had to take it back to the video and ask, “what did you notice in common?” He focused on the different the nationalities. I told him that’s present in greater Christianity. He then gave an example about some Witnesses from Germany who came and stayed with him. He didn’t know who they were yet there’s that “one bond” of being a Jehovah’s Witness and that’s all that matters. I let him go on with this as he talked about the world wide. He didn’t openly admit .
He went on more and asked why I thought they could do this? I responded by paraphrasing Matthew 12:50. He retorted they were disciples of Christ and they are to all preach. We looked very briefly at Luke 10 and how they went out two by two setting the pattern how the first century pattern which is all they go off of since they is the bible.
He went on saying that many people have different opinions on a variety of things. He gave more praise to the video with the one line that the Bible helps to make life better. He did however say it takes a bit to get used to reading if one is using the King James Version of the Bible.
The elder asked, “who do people blame when something bad happens?” I said most respond to God and the elder referenced James 1:13 that says (New World Translation) “When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.” I replied when people blame God for bad, do they “blame” him for the good that’s happened?
We chatted some more about this and he tried to quote John 17:3 but was unable to do it so I paraphrased. He was quick to say, “once one has knowledge that sets them on the course of gaining eternal life” (side note-he’s “behind since the old version of the New World Translation had “knowledge” and the new one has “know”).
He then talked about people cohabiting who are living in sin because once they know but keep doing it they live in sin. He then said that one cannot get forgiveness for that type of sin.
The one question the elder wanted to ask is “how do you feel about this study?” I was kind of surprised at this but I responded, “it’s beneficial in the aspect that you guys know I’ve read a lot of your material, 11,000 pages and counting, and it’s interesting to see what the doctrine was to what it has become.” I gave one example of The Finished Mystery and how it addresses Revelation. I spoke about one teaching how the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was an angel. It changed some to the book Revelation, then Light-Volumes 1-3, to Babylon has Fallen!, to Revelation-It’s Grand Climax at Hand.
Slightly surprised looks showing, I confirmed with them that Watchtower Jesus did his inspection from 1914-1918. I told them that from what was “inspected” to what is taught now there’s very little that’s the same. I told them it’s interesting to see how the organization has “evolved” in terms of theology (their body language “said” they were not amused in the least bit). I did tell them that I appreciate their perspective when I see something and they see something it can be totally different.
To this the custodian’s husband said how those within the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society thought something was supposed to happen but after the fact (when it didn’t happen) they had a greater understanding that’s been clarified.
Using this as a springboard, I addressed this with him via 1975. I asked the custodian’s husband why his parents sold their home and thought the end was coming. He said the end of 6,000 years was supposed to come. However, it wasn’t God’s time for the end to come. He said we had our thinking corrected. I responded, “when you say ‘our thinking,’ it, the elder interrupts. It was not the organization. Individual Witnesses said, “a day for a year” and coupled with chronology they thought it was going to happen. I interjected and said I saw a video about 1975 and was it the organization or individual Witnesses? The custodian said, “the organization never said the end was going to come nor was it ever in print.” This video used before says different:
The elder said it was the “slave class.” He went on by saying in Matthew 24 and I had to fill in, “verses 45-47.” This led to a conversation about the first century “Governing Body” as he likes to say. He openly admitted that the term “Governing Body” is not in there but they did exist. He started giving the backdrop behind what happened. Everyone went to them and asked about a final decision. He said they, “searched the scriptures, pondered, then holy spirit directed them as to what the answer was. We follow the same direction today. Does this make sense?” Me, “from the perspective on Watchtower theology-yes it does. I see how the organization states it as such.” The custodian’s husband busts in, “well you can see how just like the issue with circumcision, we follow the example of the first century Christians. When things have to change, we change it like they did.
The elder than had turned to Zechariah 13 to talk about the “refiner’s fire.” I jokingly admitted I’m lost (it happens that I can’t find the passage) to which the custodian’s husband said, “I got there before you (as he simply taps his screen).”
He then has his commentary that the “hearts are pure” and “David wasn’t perfect” but they can still be “used.” He said the brothers need refined and Jehovah refined Moses. I let him roll with this for a bit. Jehovah at times used prophets that didn’t understand something but yet they were used.
The custodian’s husband continues, we do have the wrong thinking at times but that’s what makes us united and true. We go into new areas sometimes having to deal with new languages. No one has the same love that we do in this organization.
I respond, “not to completely push back but I’ve talked with Mormons before and everything you say, they pretty much say the exact same thing (cue the look of shock on his face).” He then said, “well they only go out for two years.” The elder interjected, “they are bigger (in terms of population).” The Mormons, I continue, “they do the same thing. A bunch of folks say that and part of the reason why it’s said… did you even know the Mormons were saying this? “No” they responded. The elder continues, “they go out and I’ve never seen any women go out.” I respond, “yes they do send them out at times.” The elder continues, “they really push the Book of Mormon. As far as the Bible, they don’t get into it all that much.”
I took this as an opportunity to talk very briefly about the main story of the Book of Mormon. Form here, I addressed the term, “other sheep.” Here’s how the groups define other sheep:
Watchtower-The great crowd.
I continued with how the Book of Mormon came to be and how the angel Moroni played a part. Side note-either way neither Watchtower nor Mormon theology is in line with Galatians 1:8, 9.
As I was explaining it to them, I referenced some lines from this video a bit:
The elder asked, “what’s interesting about Joseph Smith?” We discussed him a bit.
I threw in some things that the Watchtower does such as “new light,” rewriting portions of the Book of Mormon which the Watchtower is guilty as well.
The elder said Joseph Smith Jr. was an alcoholic. Here’s some quotes regarding his relationship with alcohol I found.
He then talked about how faith is tied with works and how the Mormons shouldn’t follow Joseph Smith’s example.
Going back to Zechariah, he said that in time due to refining everything will be cleared up. The custodian’s husband talked about prophecy and how they didn’t realize what they were saying but now it’s seen how it is the case. He then equated it to today and world events with what’s going on currently. He said we’re getting “close.” That’s why we are out like this. (they’ve been saying the same thing pretty much from the beginning). The elder asked if the time with them has been beneficial. I replied that it has been. He then hesitated and I told him to “just say it” when he hears me say, “Watchtower theology.” I qualified my answer by saying, “it helps when I have them there is that when I see something (long pause as I try to phrase it), do you look to Watchtower leadership to help mold your thinking? I say this in part because a few weeks ago you (looking at the elder) said the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society gives you the material to research.” He said, “they’ve done the research.” I reply that, “so you come up to the same conclusion as the organization. Whereas myself, everything is centered on the Bible and I can look wherever I want to and there are times where I can have a slightly different conclusion to the original question and broadening the conversation a bit, you know how you talk about ‘worldwide love, united, etc.’ I’m saying this as respectfully as I can but within Christendom as the Society calls it, there’s a difference even though there are different conclusions at times, we still have a unity but the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a forced unity or uniformity. No matter what Kingdom Hall you go to it’s almost a military precision (the elder was in the U.S. Army years ago).” I brought up the quote by Augustine regarding “unity, liberty, and charity.” The custodian’s husband asked, “where do you make the difference at?” I respond, “it depends. Pure hypothetical situation…. Your Kingdom Hall baptizes (speaking of immersion) everyone by taking them back first but another Kingdom Hall takes them face first. Looking at pictures and what’s commonly practiced, we plainly see everyone is done back first. However, the Scriptures don’t say that people weren’t baptized face first either.
Going back to our Trinity discussion, I get the feeling there was genuine curiosity with what is believed. There are things in scripture that are agreed upon and should be done. There are both good and bad churches. I came up with an example of head coverings with women. It’s biblical yet some groups have women wearing them at all times, others, do not. Was that worth becoming a martyr for? I believe that there’s more freedom to do more research am I correct in this?”
The elder says the Society looks at everything and the individual Witness can look at stuff if they choose to do so. The elder said he looks at other stuff “all the time” and he’s not a “robot or drone” and I need to “figure this stuff out.” This way we can individually validate that something does go back to the Scriptures. How did the people in the first century get their answers? I said “Paul, under inspiration wrote.” The elder asked if he thought it was “approved.” I reply, “that’s why I said it was under inspiration. God directed him to write it down. Elder interrupts, “what was he part of?” Me-that’s the divergence, if we look at the historical documents, we have one little set of verses (Acts 15) and, elder interjects, “that sets the pattern for it.” Me, “they are talking and meeting about one thing. The organization has taken that and liberally applied it to the present day leadership.” I told them and they know I look at a lot of stuff that the term governing body is not a religious term but a legal term. Historically speaking, for lack of better terms let’s just call it a “church council.” The next meeting of any kind regarding church leaders wasn’t held until the second century. Now no doctrine is made by what the church father’s said but they didn’t talk about it. The elder said, “it’s a modern day term,” me, for more biblical standing we’ve looked at the scriptures yet again and we are the modern day incarnation of this and it’s been reestablished, and from Russell’s day until 1971 it finally showed. The elder then responds, “the way I look at it, is Jehovah has a pattern of setting things to be when He decides. I don’t know right off the top of my head but there are instances where Jehovah”… custodian’s husband interjects about prophets. Some said Jerusalem wasn’t going to be destroyed. I referenced the “test of a prophet in Deuteronomy 18:20-22. The true prophet will see it happen, the false one will have time run out eventually.”
The elder talked about Acts 5. He continued, “I know what you’re talking about for a pattern being set and to know Jehovah there are patterns one must know the Bible. He continually used smaller armies (Children of Israel) to defeat much larger ones.
He did say “if you want to exclude the Watchtower, then do it. Just stick to the bible.” Interesting considering he would never do it as a Jehovah’s Witness himself. So when you’re talking about that council in the first century. I did reference the “two witness” rule. I did apologize to that. I did talk about the backdrop of Paul going to Jerusalem after 14 years. From here, I elected to delve a tad bit more into this as well. I did focus in on verse four. Elder asked for the “pattern.” Me, “church, apostles, and elders.” Elder-what’s the church? Me-I answered but was referencing my Greek dictionary so he’d get the original Greek meaning of the word. I said that it is the body of Christ or “all believers.” Here’s some definitions to peruse: http://biblehub.com/greek/1577.htm
Continuing on I talked about the Pharisees who were legalistic believers. Elder interjects that he wants to establish, “it’s a meeting.” He asked who was there. Me-church, apostles, elders. Him (totally ignoring the word “church”)-who were the apostles and elders? Apostles were ones who witnessed and possibly elders didn’t see Jesus directly. I start answering and he starts cutting me off. Once he’s done, I say, the main thing I’m trying to drive at is this: it was a public meeting. We previously talked about how the Governing Body meets in a separate room off by themselves regarding matters behind closed doors. So let’s equate verse four to modern times:
Church=all the workers in Warwick, NY (Governing Body is there now).
Elders=Various elders in Warwick
Custodian’s husband and elder=Paul and Barnabas
You two (playing Paul and Barnabas) report to Warwick. Elder interjects “how would we report?” Me-Let’s use the term “received.” Elder, “I got it, I’m just trying to understand in layman’s terms. Me, “Everyone in Warwick which is a BIG public gathering. We have a completely public meeting with the great things that have been done. If that’s going to be the Biblical model, my question is this, ‘why is the Governing Body meeting in private when we have everything here taking place in public?’”
Elder goes into deflect mode. “Is it possible for everyone to meet together?” Me-due to this matter here since this is essentially where Christianity “began” they could easily meet here. They met with this local body. Today it’s not, err, it is thanks to the internet but for a first century example, Jesus met on the hillside in a big public area. The Pharisees were mentioned specifically here is they tried to apply the law. Regardless, we have the Biblical model of public meeting yet we have the Governing Body who meets by themselves when the Bible here is saying by implication that there’s a lot of people yet today they don’t do this. Elder, “I understand what your saying but when Moses met, who’d he meet with? (odd he’s going regressive and back in time when God reveals himself progressively through the Bible). Cutting the elder off at this point, “I know that the present day Governing body can’t practically meet however the implication is this, they may meet and have an assist but they do everything in private.” Elder, “don’t think that that the decisions that come down if there’s a decision to be made is something they just go for. It may take 10 years for something to change. Because the holy spirit reveals it to them along with other things involved. What does that say if it takes that long so when it does come out it is correct information and not off the top of their head.” My question-the narrative here in Acts 15 implies a short period of time. Why so long? Elder, “the Christian congregation was in its infancy and had a lot of opposition and God was no longer supporting the Jews but now them.”
To change the focus some the custodian’s husband brought up a video by the organization featuring members of the Governing Body (seven or eight by the elders count and he didn’t name them).
The elder then goes off this subject to talking about accepting “the truth.” He said he accepts it on free will. I know I have it he proclaimed. He said that he still does research as well. He said he understands I understand where I’m coming from (possibly dismissively) but we have free will to look those things up and I’m a history buff because I love it. He kept talking about some other things but he said, we have the chance of everlasting life. Struck me as I’m going to address that “chance” versus the surety of salvation when we get back into the book.
Interjecting a bit as they had to go, I said that we didn’t even get to address the Holy Spirit and that’s what we will be doing July 8th.