A Christian in a Jehovah’s Witness Bible Study: Part 6

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Lesson 6 in my study with my Jehovah’s Witness friend “Craig,” using the book Enjoy Life Forever! was “How Did Life Begin?” This was a lesson that I mostly agreed with, so again I had an opportunity for a friendly visit.

But wait a minute, there was another man there! Craig had invited another JW to meet with us, which was a surprise to me. Actually, it was no surprise. I suspected he would eventually bring in one or more of his elders to check me out. They do that. They want to see if the recruit is “rightly disposed” to learning truth from them (aka “honest-hearted” or “worthy.”) That phrase “rightly disposed” comes from their translation of Acts 13:48, where other translations say something like “those who were appointed” to eternal life. It goes with their recent heightened rhetoric to not have any conversations with “opposers” or “apostates,” but only talk with those who are open to their message.

So I figured the visiting elder would be judging me to determine whether or not I was worth Craig’s time, or if I had another agenda. (The fact is, I do have another agenda, but I do also want to be ongoing friends with JW’s, and I am always open to learning from them, at least learning about what they believe and teach, even if I don’t plan on converting. I wouldn’t cut off an atheist, or give up on a pagan, or even abandon a fake “Christian.” Would they give up on Saul, before he became Paul?) Of course I was nervous. After we were introduced, I asked the brother if he was an elder. He admitted he was. Oh boy, here we go. Lord, help me speak the truth but remain in good standing.

It turns out, our conversation went very well. We went through the lesson, and I made comments that only commended what the lesson was teaching. I talked about intelligent design, and creation ex nihilo, and missing links. We went through the lesson in a friendly way, and were all smiling at the end.

Things got a little more controversial in the next lesson, the following week. Stay tuned!

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A Christian in a Jehovah’s Witness Bible Study: Part 5

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As my Jehovah’s Witness friend “Craig” and I went through lesson #5 in the JW Bible study Enjoy Life Forever, there was nothing really that I could disagree with. This gave me an opportunity to have nothing but pleasant conversation with him. My advice to you, dear reader, is: If you’re presented with an opportunity to have a pleasant conversation with a JW, take advantage of that opportunity! Don’t feel that you have to bring up something controversial. It’s okay to be their friend in the moment–you don’t always have to be making a point of contention with them.

Having said that, there were a couple of places in the study that I found convenient to drop some truth seeds upon him. Section 1 quotes 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.” I read that verse out loud, then commented about how self-contained scripture is, that it can accomplish so much in our lives, without the need for any other materials. He seemed to agree with me, but I think he didn’t make the connection I was making about not needing an organization to interpret the Bible for us. I let that go, allowing this to be a seed for a future conversation; something I can refer back to.

Section 3 of the “study” is “How has Jehovah preserved the Bible?” And section 5 is “The Bible survived attacks.” The two sections are essentially saying the same thing. I used this as an opportunity to mention that some people think the Bible has been corrupted. I described what I know about the meticulousness of the copyists as they preserved the Bible. I also mentioned that I read somewhere that “some people” even think that the word Jehovah was removed from the Greek New Testament, but that this is not possible since none of the manuscripts (that the meticulous copyists so meticulously preserved) have that word, but they all have the Greek word kurios. Craig responded with something like “Hmm, that’s interesting.” I only gave that a “yes indeed” before bringing us back to the next part of the study material.

So those were two seeds of truth I quickly planted, in the midst of our whole time together. It was a good, positive meeting, and made us both eager for our next time together.

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A Christian in a Jehovah’s Witness Bible Study: Part 4

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The fourth lesson in my “Bible study” with my Jehovah’s Witness friend “Craig,” from their primer Enjoy Life Forever! is called “Who Is God?” Oh, this should be good, right? Let’s get right to it!

Point #1 was “What is God’s name, and how can we be sure that he wants us to know it?” That’s a leading question, isn’t it? They’re telling the student right up front what they expect him/her to conclude. The blatant manipulation is comical. I used this paragraph as an opportunity to talk about my preference for using the name Yahweh rather than Jehovah, because Yahweh is more accurate, which even Watchtower admits. Somewhere in my ramblings I included that God’s name means “I am that I am,” or the one who is, the source of all existence. This is contrary to the JW belief mentioned in the paragraph that God’s name means “He causes to become,” but I didn’t present the facts as a contradiction; I just laid it out there as assumed truth on my part. Craig affirmed everything I said, so I asked whether, if I became a JW, I would be allowed to use the name Yahweh instead of Jehovah. Craig said that it would be allowed, and I responded with exaggerated surprise. “Oh really? I wouldn’t get in trouble?” Craig hemmed and hawed about that, and I let him off the hook and we continued on.

Point #2 asks “What does the Bible reveal about Jehovah?” Most of this paragraph is true, so I agreed with it. I did bring up the point about creation, that Isaiah says that he alone created everything. “Who was with me?” asks God, implying that no one else was involved. I just let that float in the air for future reference, if and when we get to Jesus’ involvement in creation. Oh, and I continued to use Yahweh rather then Jehovah.

I also agreed with point #3, “God has many titles, but one name.” But I kept using Yahweh rather than Jehovah. I think that Craig was surprised that I so readily agreed with this paragraph. I honestly did agree, that God has a name, Yahweh. The next section though . . .

Section #4 was “Jehovah wants you to know and use his name.” Oh boy, here we go. When Craig asked me the question from the study “How important is it to use God’s name, Jehovah?” I paused and said, “Well, honestly, I don’t think it’s vital.” I explained how a child can love his dad and have a deep relationship with him without knowing his personal name. In fact, if I were to call my dad by his first name, that would be disrespectful, wouldn’t it? Craig got noticeably uncomfortable, so after a short while I gave him an out. Looking ahead to the next section, I commented that I liked what it said there, and considered it more important.

Section #5 was “Jehovah wants you to get closer to him.” We talked about that concept, without referring much to the printed material. We watched the video, and I expressed my empathy for the woman who had the harrowing experience of being a refugee, and acknowledged that churches failed to meet her need for a personal relationship with God. We talked about the importance of knowing God personally, “apart from any organization” I added, explaining that we as individuals can know him personally and don’t need any dependence on any priesthood, elders, or other humans to get to know him. I mentioned how wonderful it was to me to have God as my “Abba, Father.” We left on a good note, and looked forward to the next study next week.

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A Christian in a Jehovah’s Witness Bible Study: Part 3

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The third “Bible study” I had with my Jehovah’s Witness friend “Craig” was titled “Can You Trust the Bible,” the third chapter of their new primer called Enjoy Life Forever!

Most of this chapter was material that we agreed on. This gave me an opportunity to have friendly, non-confrontive conversations with Craig. It was a needed break for us; we could just be friends discussing things we agreed on.

There was one spot where the Watchtower quotes Matthew 24:6-7, which they use to convince people that we are in what they have described as “the last part of the final part of the last days,” (or something like that; I’m paraphrasing one of their videos). I casually mentioned that verse 6B says that when you see these things you are to know that “the end is not yet.” In the verses following, Jesus says that there would be a time of intense, unprecedented persecution before the end came. The signs to watch for are the completion of the worldwide preaching of the gospel, and the “abomination of desolation” in the temple (verses 14 and 15). We didn’t discuss my comment; I think Craig gave me a pass as a Bible study newbie. He didn’t really interact with what the text in Matthew actually says any more than what was taught in the lesson. Sometimes he’s in the text with me, but other times he seems to slough it off like he’s made of Teflon. (I see the Teflon effect often among JW’s.)

After that one little speedbump, we went back to our friendly discussion of the chapter. I really did nothing but affirm what the rest of the lesson was saying.

The next lesson had some fun stuff, though! Stay tuned!

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A Christian in a Jehovah’s Witness Bible Study: Part 2

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Lesson two of Enjoy Life Forever is “The Bible Gives Hope.” This is the second study “Craig” and I did together, now several weeks ago. (I’m trying to catch up on these reports, really I am!)

I’ll skip paragraphs that had content that we mainly agreed on, and get right to the more interesting (juicy) bits. (Paragraph 2 mentioned “paradise on earth,” which can be a whole long conversation in itself, but I let it go, saving it for a later discussion. If he sticks with me that long.)

Paragraph 3 mentioned Acts 17:11 about the Bereans, so I jumped all over that, talking about how the Bereans questioned everything that the leaders of the organization presented to them. I acted unaware of the JWs’ unquestioning allegiance to their governing body, rattling on about how we only need the Bible, and no other materials, organizations, or human guidance to be able to interpret it for ourselves. It’s fun to “play dumb” and bulldoze right over the self-proclaimed authority of the governing bully! Craig was squirming a bit as he avoided commenting on what I was saying.

Paragraph 5, with the heading “The Bible’s Hope Can Make a Difference,” was a not-so-subtle diatribe against political involvement. Man, they begin early with the indoctrination! The video was blatantly dripping with sentiments of non-involvement. Rather than commenting on that, though, I picked up on what the character in the video said about the Bible. She grew up not understanding the King James Bible, and shared her excitement about finding a more understandable version, the New World Translation (the official version of the Watchtower org and all Jehovah’s Witnesses). The NWT was touted as The version that was clear, understandable, and using plain English. I asked why then did the translators of the NWT use some archaic expressions, such as “fruitage” instead of “fruit.” Craig vainly tried to come up with a reason for using fruitage, and then said he would research that and get back to me the next time we met. Fair enough, I said.

We continued talking about non-controversial stuff, and ended on a good, friendly note.

Next post will be about lesson three!

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A Christian in a Jehovah’s Witness Bible Study: Part 1

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“Craig,” a Jehovah’s Witness acquaintance of mine (a friend of a JW friend), texted me after I attended the most recent JW Memorial. “Hey, glad to see you there,” etc. Then he asked, “Would you like to have a Bible study with me?”

“Sure!” I said, knowing how tedious the Watchtower material is. And I knew the truth, that what they call a “Bible study” is actually a study of Watchtower materials, with isolated proof-texts wrenched from their biblical contexts to “prove” the Watchtower teachings. So why would I jump at the chance of attending a JW “Bible study”? Most Christians would avoid it like a rabid skunk. But I was hoping (even praying) for such an opportunity!

Notice the title of my blog. “UndercoverJW.” That tells you something. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not secretly infiltrating them, nor could I. They can spot a non-JW from across a kingdom hall. But I do pretend to be an interested Bible student (which is true) and a possible recruit (which will only happen when mutant pigs sprout wings and fly). In the past I avoided Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now I seek them out. (Only God can do that. Yes, I believe in miracles.)

I have attended three “Bible study” sessions now with Craig (by Zoom), so I need to get you up to speed! I’ll give an account of how each session goes. Keep in mind that he is trying to convert me using the Watchtower’s indoctrination content and techniques, and I’m trying to influence him with the truth as it naturally comes from scripture.

So here we go! Lesson One, several weeks ago now.

The lessons are from their new book, Enjoy Life Forever!, which is what they are now using with new recruits. (Previously they used What Can the Bible Teach Us?) I found that each lesson gave me plenty of opportunities to plant seeds with Craig. So here’s how it went, in a sort of play-by-play format.

Lesson 01, “How can the Bible help you?”

  1. “What are some questions that the Bible answers?” (I just agreed with this paragraph; nothing stood out here.)
  2. “How can the Bible help us enjoy our daily life?” Here I took advantage of the verse quoted, 2 Timothy 3:16, pointing out that the Bible has what we need as individuals to improve our lives. We don’t need anyone to interpret scripture for us; it’s understandable and applicable to each of us. I also shared that I appreciated the statement “This publication does not replace the Bible.” I talked about our need to read and study the Bible, accepting its authority, and that we don’t need any other materials to learn from the Bible.
  3. “The Bible can guide us.” I jumped on this picture, saying that it reminded me of a verse in Proverbs 4 (one of the JWs’ pet verses!) First I affirmed Psalm 119:105, about the Bible being a light to our paths as individuals. Then I found and quoted Proverbs 4:18, which talks about the path of our individual walk with God becoming brighter as we learn from and submit to the truth of his word. (Very contrary to the JW claim of “the light [of their Bible interpretation] getting brighter and brighter” based on the misinterpretation of this verse. I even mentioned that the Mormons claim this verse to justify their concept of what they call “progressive revelation.” Oh, those misguided Mormons!) The Watchtower’s use of Psalm 119:105 and the accompanying picture are perfect for debunking their twisting of Proverbs 4:18, while feigning ignorance about their doing just that. I would call this part of Lesson 1 a Hot Opportunity!
  4. “The Bible can answer our questions.” This part of the lesson included a video about a teacher who struggled with questions, specifically the problem of pain and suffering. A student in her class led her to becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. Then the lesson asked, “What questions do you have that the Bible may be able to answer?” When Craig asked me this question, I said, “I want to know whether Jehovah treats all believers the same, because I hear from my other JW friends that there may be two classes of believers, which I think might be a problem.” He said we would address that question later.
  5. “You can enjoy reading the Bible.” I just used this section to gush about the Bible, how I love reading and studying it. Craig expressed how different I was from most people, in that I already have a strong interest in the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses typically think that no one else but them has interest in the Bible.
  6. “Others can help us understand the Bible.” This section is an obvious ploy of the JW’s to plant the thought that we need outside help to understand the Bible, which feeds into their agenda to make people dependent on their materials. I took the story of Philip and the Ethiopian in a different direction (one more true to the context of the story), pointing out that Philip was acting on his own, apart from any organization, explaining truth using scripture only and no other materials. To the question “Some people say studying the Bible is a waste of time. What do you say?” I took the opportunity to gush about the Bible again, telling a story of when someone asked me why I read the Bible every day. My answer was that it was for me a connection to reality. My hope with Craig was that he would see that I have a living, vital relationship with God and his Word.
  7. Craig and I read through the Summary section very informally, because by this time he was quite aware of how I would answer the very basic questions there.

All this time with Craig, I feared that he would think I was not “right-hearted” or “rightly disposed” or “worthy” of continuing. (Meaning that they are instructed to spend time only with those who are open to swallowing their message without questioning anything.) I tried to bring up my challenges in a way that made it sound like I’m willing to learn and discuss (which I am). When he asked if I wanted to meet at the same time next week, I was greatly relieved and pleased. Seeds are being planted with Craig!

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An Old Jehovah’s Witness Doctrine Makes a Comeback

Back in March of 2017, I wrote a post in this blog called, “Ever Heard of The Vindication of Jehovah’s Sovereignty”? Here’s a link to that post: Click! In that article I made a prediction, and now I think I might be a prophet, because my prediction is coming true! If I’m not at prophet-level, at least my track record of predictions is better than that of the Watchtower Society.

(Snarky Snicker!)

Here’s my prediction from that March 2017 post:

It will be interesting to see renewed emphasis given to this old doctrine in upcoming congregation meetings, regional assemblies, and district conventions. I’m sure the catchphrase “vindicating Jehovah’s sovereignty” will soon become part of the “theocratic language” of the common Jehovah’s Witness.

And where is the fulfillment of my prediction, you ask? See the article “Let Your Name Be Sanctified” in the June 2020 Watchtower (Study Edition), starting on page 2.

There’s an interesting shift in the precise terminology being used. The older language is, as quoted above, “the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty.” The latest Watchtower article acknowledges the legitimacy of that language, but also equivalates it with what I sense is their preferred terminology, “the sanctification of Jehovah’s name.” In paragraph 2 the author(s) say, “God’s name must be cleared of reproach.” Other ways are used to express the same concept, that Jehovah’s “name,” “sovereignty,” “way of ruling,” or “right to rule” must be “cleared of reproach,” “sanctified,” or “proved to be best.”

There’s another place where this concept is taught. In the Insight book (the JW equivalent of a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia), volume 2, under “Jehovah,” there’s a paragraph headed “The Sanctification of Jehovah’s Name.” Check it out for the official word on the subject! The Insight book is available on JW dot org, in the Online Library.

My recent discovery came about because of my long-time JW friend Mark. He had invited me to one of the JW zoom meetings, and when I tuned in, there was mention made of the recent article (June 2020) that they had just gone through in the previous section of the meeting. My reaction was “What?” And I checked out the article. There it was, the old doctrine, all polished up shiny and presented to a new generation of JW’s.

(Or is it still the same generation, because of the “overlapping generations”? See what I did there?)

I’m finding this all so very fascinating. But I still have a big question, which maybe someone out there can help me with. What is the history of this doctrine? Prior to whenever the JW’s adopted it, that is. Where did it come from? Who made it up in the first place? Don’t say the writers of the Bible, because it’s not there.

(Unless the concept is there in the Bible, but not the literal wording. Kind of like, oh, I don’t know, maybe, the Trinity? Oh, snap!)

I know that some doctrines were adopted and adapted from the Adventist, or Millerite movement. Is this one of those? If you have any insight on the history of this doctrine, please share with us in the comments! Thank you!

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My Jehovah’s Witnesses Youtube Channel

So, I started a Youtube channel a little while back. Check it out!

My goal is to develop a website to unify all my efforts; this blog, the youtube channel, and my author/speaker information. Meanwhile, all these things are still separated. But hopefully within the next month or so, I’ll get that goal achieved!

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy both this blog and my Youtube channel.

The Youtube channel is called jehovahswitnessesquestionsanswered, and is designed to field questions from Christians and non-Christians about JW’s, as well as questions JW’s may have about Evangelical Christians or others. The title is purposefully ambiguous, so the questioning can go both ways. If you have a question for me about JW’s, or if you’re a JW with a question, let me know either at the Youtube location, or in the comments here. Your question might be the subject matter for my next youtube video!

Thanks for reading, and may the Lord be at work in your life!

#jehovahswitnessesquestionsanswered

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Using Repetition to Reach Jehovah’s Witnesses

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Jehovah’s Witnesses use it, so why shouldn’t we?

Repetition, I mean.

Watchtower articles, Watchtower studies at meetings, public talks, conventions, assemblies, videos, website, and more are all repetitive ad nauseam, going over the same 5 or 6 themes again and again. It doesn’t take a fierce opposer with an agenda to recognize the mind-control technique.

I propose we use the same strategy. Well, the same, but different. I’m not proposing that we drive by JW’s at their carts, blasting the same message at them daily from a megaphone. (Oh, wait, I hadn’t thought of that until now. Maybe . . . no, never mind.)

What I propose is: Don’t be hesitant to go over the same points with them again and again. I found myself doing just that with my friend Mark. At first it felt awkward. The conversation would naturally bring itself around to the same subject we had covered the last time we met, or something from last year. I would think, “Should we talk about this again? Should I change the subject to something else?” But then I would proceed with the repetitious topic. And I’ve figured out that it’s okay to repeat. In fact, it’s good. Here’s why.

First, Jehovah’s Witnesses are used to repetition. It’s the way they’re conditioned to learn. So while we may feel awkward, to them it’s normal. They almost need something repeated a number of times before they accept it. With Mark, there are several topics we have gone over repeatedly, but I think the most common one for us is the mediator topic. (See my other posts on that subject.) Sometimes it comes up naturally in the conversation. Sometimes he will bring it up out of the blue. Sometimes he brings it up, and sometimes I bring it up again. “Hey Mark, I found another publication that talks about the mediator; have you seen this one?” Whatever the situation, he never flinches. It’s normal for him to talk about something again, and again, and again.

As we have discussed the mediator over and over, I have seen him become more and more firm in his disagreement with the Watchtower view of this subject. He actually says that they’re wrong to say that Jesus is the mediator for only the anointed class of 144,000. This last time I said to him, “You could get into trouble for saying that.” And he agreed. “Yes, I could get in trouble.” I assured him that his secret was safe with me. (I would never rat him out to his elders. His coming out needs to be his decision, not theirs. I want to empower him, not defeat him.)

The mediator issue is not the only topic we have repeatedly discussed. The deity of Jesus is another, and salvation by faith, apart from works, and also the 2-class system of believers. We have been over these topics many times each, and I must be willing to go over them with Mark again. And again.

“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12) That’s a verse out of context for us. But I’m claiming it anyway. Lord, give me patience as I talk with Mark and other Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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My New Youtube Channel

Hey readers! I’m excited to announce that I started a new Youtube channel! It’s called JehovahsWitnessesQuestionsAnswered. You can click here to view it, or click the pic above to see the first video.

I’m planning to continue posting on this blog, so if you’re more of a reader than a viewer, I’ve still got you covered.

The purpose of the Youtube channel is many-fold (manifold–don’t you like that word), as seen in the purposefully ambiguous title. Who is asking the questions about whom? Well, here’s the explanation. You might be:

  1. A Christian with questions about Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  2. A Jehovah’s Witness with questions about those in “Christiandom,” AKA Evangelical Christians.
  3. Neither of the above (atheist, agnostic, other religion, philosophy, or world view, or nothing) with questions about Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  4. A Jehovah’s Witness with a question about your own doctrine, wanting the opinion of an outsider.

Here’s the important part: This requires participation. By YOU! Submit your question(s), either at the Youtube site in the comments beneath each video, or here in the comments below. I need questions to respond to! Your question may become the subject matter of an upcoming video!

Also, please if you would, visit my Youtube channel, watch a video, and click on the “like” button and the “subscribe” button. Clicking “subscribe” twice will ensure that you get ALL the notifications rather than just occasional ones.

If you’re afraid to ask a question because you want to preserve your anonymity, please be assured that I will not share in my video or its comments anything that might identify you. I understand that there are those JW’s who are still in the organization who don’t want to get reported to their elders for visiting “apostate” websites. (Yes, that’s a thing.)

So, let’s have fun with this! Ask your questions, and I’ll answer them as well as I am able. Please always be respectful of others; no name-calling or ridiculing. Thank you!

#jehovahswitnessesquestionsanswered

 

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