Our Friend the Septuagint (Part 2)

From Michal Matlon on Unsplash

The Septuagint (aka LXX) is the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures (aka Old Testament), commonly used in Jesus’ day. It is helpful for a number of reasons, and more specifically as a tool we can use when talking with Jehovah’s witnesses.

So here we go.

To begin, take a look at John 18:5-6. How does your favorite translation render what Jesus said, his statement that caused the soldiers to fall to the ground? The most accurate, literal translations will have “I am,” rather than the more interpretive “I am he.” Now, look at the passage in an interlinear (Greek and English) translation, preferably the JW’s own Kingdom Interlinear version (available on their website if you hunt for it). The phrase is translated from the Greek phrase “ego eimi,” literally “I am.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Even someone with no knowledge of Greek can see it in the interlinear versions.

Now, bring up the Septuagint (available on most Bible apps and websites). You won’t find John 18, because the Septuagint is the Old Testament, translated from Hebrew into Greek. Here you will want to look up Exodus 3:14, where God tells Moses what he and the Hebrews are to use for God’s name. God explains to Moses that they are to call him Yahweh (which the Watchtower renders “Jehovah,” which is a whole topic for another time). God’s explanation is that his name comes from the Hebrew word “to be.” His name was to convey the idea of existence, both in the sense of being eternal, and also in the primal sense, that is, God is the origin and ground of existence itself. Everything that exists is dependent on God for its existence. God is the only uncaused cause, the “ground of all other being.”

Now, looking at Exodus 3:14, God says that his name is “I AM.” (Not the mis-translation “I will become” of Watchtower’s New World Translation.) Looking at Exodus 3:14 in the Septuagint, you can see the exact same phrase that we saw in the Kingdom Interlinear translation of John 18:5-6. It’s the Greek phrase “ego eimi,” that is, “I am.”

If you can show your JW friend this connection between Jesus’ statement at John 18:5-6 and Yahweh’s statement at Exodus 3:14, then it becomes a great talking point. Or, a great pondering point. You may be able to have a good conversation with them about it. Or there may be an awkward silence, which is okay, because God can work in that silence. You might say, “Isn’t that interesting?” Then let your friend ponder what they have seen. Their response doesn’t really matter all that much; what matters is that from that moment on, they can never un-see it. And it can come back to their memory and bother them. Pray that it does so. Perhaps your JW friend will encounter either of these two passages in their own study, or in a Watchtower article, and they will think of it in a different way than they ever have before. The Watchtower will never connect these two verses–they dare not. But you have, with help from our friend the Septuagint.


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Our Friend the Septuagint (A Three-Part Series)

From Michal Matlon on Unsplash

Have you ever heard of the Septuagint? It’s a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) into Greek, done in the 3rd century BC. It was done for Greek-speaking Jews who no longer knew Hebrew, so they could have the scriptures in their own language. It’s also known by its abbreviation “LXX,” which refers to “The Seventy,” the group of scribes said to have translated and transcribed the version.

The Septuagint is helpful to us today, providing insights for interpretation, such as the messianic prediction of Isaiah 7:14, which says that a young woman would conceive and bear a son, who would be called Immanuel. The Hebrew word “alma” can be translated either “young woman” or “virgin.” The translators of the Septuagint chose the Greek word “parthenos,” that is, virgin. Matthew then quotes the verse (Matthew 1:23), also using the Greek word for “virgin,” and goes on to claim that Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prediction. Quite possibly Matthew directly relied on the Septuagint for his quotation.

The Septuagint is valuable to us, and should be considered our friend. With that in mind, I would like to share, in my next three posts, three ways that the Septuagint can help us in our ministry to Jehovah’s Witnesses. I will share here on WordPress, as well as in my YouTube vlog (here), and in several Facebook groups. (Please give me a few days to get those posts up and running.) I hope you find these posts useful to you in your witnessing efforts.

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Cart Witnessing with Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Airport

From Pixabay

While coming down the escalator into the baggage claim area, I could already see the three Jehovah’s Witness ladies at their literature cart. Since I had no checked baggage to claim, I went right up to them to chat. They were very polite and cheerful; one lady was in perhaps her fifties, the other two I’m guessing in their thirties. We made smalltalk about air travel and family. Then they offered their free literature to me. I asked if they wouldn’t mind answering a question. They were eager to help, so I sprung it on them.

“What is your good news, aka the gospel, that you’re sharing with people here today?”

If you’re at all familiar with Watchtower doctrine and teachings, you already know their answer. The eldest of the ladies told me about the coming kingdom of Jehovah, a 1000-year kingdom of paradise here on earth. I told them that their answer matched that of other JW’s that I have known, including a long-time JW friend of mine. They responded to that with a humble-brag about their unity. Then I asked, “Why is your gospel so different from the gospel that Paul spells out so clearly? You know the one, at the first few verses of First Corinthians 15? Can we look at that together?”

I brought up the passage in their own New World Translation of the Bible, using the JW app on my phone. I held it where we all could see it, while I read the verses out loud. “So why is your gospel so different from Paul’s?”

Then the eldest of the three ladies used a tactic that I had not anticipated, nor had I prepared for it. She jumped right down to verse 24 of the chapter, and read it. “Next, the end, when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father, when he has brought to nothing all government and all authority and power.” Then she explained, “There we see that the gospel is about the kingdom.” Then she asked, “What is your concern about our message?”

“Well,” I said. “But you skipped the whole first part of the chapter, the context. When would you tell people about Jesus, like Paul did?”

“Oh, we talk about Jesus,” she said.

“When?” I asked. “It seems to me that JW’s seldom talk about Jesus with people, like Paul did. And that’s what the whole book of Acts is about, isn’t it? The early church were obsessed with Jesus. They talked about him constantly. They were persecuted in Jesus’ name, they preached in Jesus’ name. It was all about Jesus with them.”

“We talk about Jesus later,” she said.

“But that’s backwards, isn’t it? Shouldn’t we talk about Jesus, who he is, what he has done for us, first? That’s the good news! That’s the gospel as Paul and the early church presented it.”

That’s when the eldest of the ladies started to shut down. “Since you have known a Jehovah’s Witness for a long time, they would have shared this with you already. I don’t think we’re going to convince you now; neither are you going to convince us.”

“Yeah, not likely,” I said. “But I had to ask.” Then I changed the subject. “Do you all live close by, or did you come from far away today?”

We all talked about where we lived, enjoyed a good, friendly conversation, and parted on good terms. It’s always my goal to part on good terms, because I want them to keep an open mind and heart to what I have shared with them.

Lord, bring to these ladies’ minds the verses that I shared with them. Pursue them relentlessly, in Jesus’ name.

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How To Interact With Jehovah’s Witnesses During the Covid Pandemic

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Boy, I sure miss the days of interacting with Jehovah’s Witnesses in person, face-to-face. (Yes, I like talking with them. Yes, I’m weird. My regular readers know this about me.) I keep hoping I’ll turn the corner and see them at their carts, but so far they’re not meeting in kingdom halls or doing the live preaching work, even though all the other churches in “Christiandom” are meeting. I find their seemingly paranoid response to Covid strange, and it makes me wonder whether (1) they’re waiting for Covid to fully blow over, rather than risking an on-again, off-again meeting policy, or (2) they’re taking advantage of this crisis to convert their religion to an online-only religion and plan on selling off all their “brick and mortar” facilities, or (3) they believe that this crisis is leading up to the final days of the last of the last days before Armageddon hits, and they’re hunkering down in preparation for persecution. Their members don’t seem to be aware of the real motivation of the governing body either. Because the governing bully is not saying anything, the members are not willing to speculate about it–that would be “voicing their personal opinion,” which they’re not allowed to do.

Anyway, how are we to have an influence on Jehovah’s Witnesses, if they’re not at our door or on the street? Here’s what I have been doing for ministry to JW’s during Covid.

First, there’s Facebook, and possibly other social media platforms. I have joined a number of Facebook groups, including those by JW’s, and those of non-JW’s. In the JW-run groups, I have respectfully and politely submitted questions to get the JW friends to think. I do the same in the non-JW run groups, because there are curious JW’s that cruise those groups, and will sometimes interact. (They’re forbidden to do so by their leaders, but some are doing it on the down-low.) FYI, if you interact with any JW’s in these groups, know that God is at work in them, because it takes a certain amount of courage on their part to interact with opposers at all. They are conditioned to fear demonic influences by interacting with me and you. For them to talk with you at all, they must be having serious doubts and conflicts going on in their minds and hearts to motivate them to investigate any sources outside of their own literature.

Secondly, I have written letters and emails. Because JW’s are not doing public ministry, they’re engaged in a letter-writing campaign, writing letters to random addresses that they obtain from (I assume) phonebooks or other public-access sources. If you haven’t received a letter from a JW, you may get one sometime soon. I received such a letter at my home, and have been a pen-pal with a JW for two rounds of writing to each other now. In addition, one of my fellow Facebook group members had permission from a JW to give out their name and address for interaction with interested parties, so have written to that JW as well.

Thirdly, I have done some emailing. A Facebook group member provided the email address for a Kingdom hall, so I wrote an email to that address with a question. I have been able to interact by email with an elder from that congregation for several rounds of question-and-answer.

Phoning and texting have been another means of communication with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have phoned my long-time JW friend Mark, asking if I could stop by his house and drop off a book. (He is much more open than your typical JW to outside sources of information.) I ended up having a nice visit with him, live and in person! I have also been texting another JW friend, Craig, who had been doing a “Bible study” with me by Zoom, but has remained open to texting with me after cutting off our study. (See my previous posts about my experience with him.)

Speaking of Zoom, I was given the access code by a JW for attending the annual memorial (JW communion) by Zoom, where Craig recognized me and invited me to join him for the “Bible study”.

So there you have several ways to interact with JW’s. Facebook is probably the easiest–you can begin that right away. Start joining groups and leaving your comments and questions. I actually think it’s fun! Keep an eye out for leads within those groups for more ministry opportunities; you may be provided with phone numbers, email addresses, or snail mail addresses for interacting with JW’s.

If you have found other ways to interact with JW’s during the Covid chaos, please share them in the comments below. Thank you!


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A Christian in a Jehovah’s Witness Bible Study: Part 10

Image from Pixabay; Not a kingdom hall, bit it looks like one.

Lesson 10 in the Jehovah’s Witness “Bible study” Enjoy Life Forever is “How Can the Meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses Benefit You?” As “Craig” and I began our weekly meeting together, I noticed that it was just the two of us; none of his elders had joined us this time. I very much expected to see an elder’s face, calling my bluff and telling me that I need to start coming to their meetings.

How about that lesson title, though? Can you see where they’re heading with it? Ugh, the wording is so manipulative, so passive-aggressive, it’s annoying. You can tell that after this many lessons with the new recruit, the JW’s expect commitment from them. They may as well just come out and say, “You better get your @$$ to the meetings, now!”

So, I wondered whether Craig would put the pressure on.

We started going through the material in a friendly-enough way. Under point 2, “What will you learn in our meetings?” Nehemiah 8:8 is quoted. I expressed my surprise to Craig at the way the Watchtower translated the verse. While all other translations infer that the Levites explained the meaning of scripture to the people, the New World Translation renders the Hebrew text as “putting meaning into it.” I explained to Craig the difference between exegesis and eisegesis, and told him that this translation sounded like the latter rather than the former. All other translations give the sense of drawing meaning out of the text, not imposing one’s preconceived ideas into it. Craig answered by talking about his visit to the JW headquarters (“Bethel”), and the writing department. He talked about the vast effort required to produce a Bible translation. He didn’t really address the issue I had brought up, so I asked, “Were there any Hebrew scholars there? Did you meet any?” He avoided that question as well, suggesting that he thought the phrase meant that the Levites gave the text meaning by reading it in a dynamic way, putting feeling into it.

In Craig’s defense, he doesn’t deliberately lie; I get the impression he just tries to provide the best answer he can, no matter how remotely it does or doesn’t relate to the question. I think he makes up stuff to avoid sounding ignorant, and to defend the organization as well as he can. It’s very much like when you hear politicians try to answer a question they don’t have a real answer for. The motto for both could be “If you don’t know the answer, make something up.” I’ve seen salespeople do it, too. (I’m in sales myself, so I can recognize when they’re “blowing smoke” in an instant.)

When we got to the cute diagram of the kingdom hall, I asked about point C, which says, “During some parts of the program, the audience is invited to comment.” I told Craig that I have raised my hand in meetings several times, and have never been called on. “Do they only call upon baptized members?” I asked. He insisted that visitors would be called on as a normal practice. I insisted that it had not been my experience. I even told him the story (related here) of the trouble I got into when I questioned whether there was a donkey in the accounts of Joseph and Mary’s journeys. Craig winced when I told him that the elders took me into the back room. He offered a sort of apology, saying something like, “I don’t know what those guys’ issue was.” He assured me that if I visited his kingdom hall, I would be called on. Yeah, right. Whatever.

We went through the rest of the study, and I agreed with just about everything that was said. The thing is, though, I kept applying the principles of scripture about “meeting together” to the congregation I’m now attending, which is NOT a kingdom hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Craig asked me several questions about our practices, so he knew I was talking about my “christiandom” church.

Finally, at the very end of our time together, Craig asked me what I expected to gain from doing this Bible study with him. Uh oh, there it is. He’s fishing for whether I am “rightly disposed.” How should I answer? I couldn’t help feeling trapped. I can’t tell him I’m all-in, ready to begin faithfully attending their meetings. But if I admit that I’m not interested in becoming a JW, will he shut down our study and ghost me?

I thank God for the deus ex machina experiences I have had in life. [That fancy phrase means “an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel.” (From Oxford Languages.)] Once again the Lord gave me words to say. (Sometimes He shuts me up, too.) What I said was something like this: “I’m hoping to learn more about what my Jehovah’s Witness friends believe, so I can better understand where they’re coming from. I have mentioned to you that I have a number of questions that I haven’t found answers to yet, including questions about the New Covenant, the Two-class system of believers, Jesus as Mediator, and lots of questions about the 1914 thing.” Craig assured me that the answers to my questions would be provided in upcoming lessons of the “Bible study.”

When Craig said that, I thought “Oh, good.” It implies that he expects to continue the study with me. He’s not cutting me off, and apparently not expecting me to be “all in” yet. What a relief.

At this point, some readers might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? So what if he ends the study? Why do you care?” And to an extent, that’s right. I’m not invested in the JW system. There’s no fear or anxiety about my being rejected by them. But the fact is, I care about these JW friends of mine. They have become dear to me. I grieved when I was forbidden to attend the kingdom hall closest to my home. (Read about that experience here.) My goal is to keep my friendship with my JW friends alive for as long as I can. My window of influence with them is limited, and I want to extend that window of opportunity, making it last longer, to the extent that I am able. I plan on meeting with Craig for as long as he is willing, and as long as God protects our relationship. Please join me in prayer that Craig will wake up before he decides to cut me off.


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A Christian in a Jehovah’s Witness Bible Study: Part 9

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“Draw Close to God Through Prayer,” that is the title of Lesson 9 in the Jehovah’s Witness study, Enjoy Life Forever! My JW friend “Craig” and I have been meeting (online) weekly, working our way through the publication.

This week we were joined by yet another of his elders, this one being “Kirk,” a man that I already know. He and I have chatted together several times, both at the kingdom hall, and in his van when he gave my other JW friend “Mark” and I a ride to one of the assemblies. Kirk is a very friendly guy, so I was hoping that the friendliness would continue.

One of the men began by asking me whether I ever pray, and if so when? I told them that I often pray while walking or driving. Kirk quipped that I shouldn’t close my eyes while driving, and we all had a good laugh.

When we got to point #3, “How does God answer our prayers?” I noticed that the article mentioned the Bible as God’s primary means of answering prayer. I asked the men whether they thought that Jehovah ever speaks to us directly in prayer to provide an answer. They looked puzzled, so I gave an example, telling them that there was a time when I was providing advice to a friend. I told them about how I distinctly got the direct impression from God that I needed to stop talking (“shut up” was the exact wording), and just listen and be a friend instead of making my next (very profound) point. Kirk asked whether it was a voice I had heard, and I assured him that no, it was just an inner impression in my own thoughts, but that I was distinctly aware that the message was coming from God. They seemed okay with that. I suspect that they haven’t really thought whether this would be a valid experience; it’s just foreign to them, because they are indoctrinated to think that Jehovah only speaks through the Bible and the Watchtower literature and leaders. Being the control freaks that they are, the governing bully would never encourage any kind of hearing directly from God. They’re basically cessationists, teaching that the spiritual gifts are no longer valid for these days.

I mostly agreed with sections 4-6, but added my own insights that would I thought would be outside of the JW box. Regarding their illustration of members of two competing armies praying for the Lord’s favor, I agreed with the absurdity of that situation, but added that I believed that members of both sides could pray for God’s justice to be done, and for love, healing, and restoration to win. When Philippians 4 was quoted, I expounded on the “peace that surpasses understanding.” I talked about some things that seem irrational to us are actually “trans-rational,” that is, they are beyond our understanding, and that God can give us peace that seems to make no sense. My JW friends are not likely to have experienced an encounter with a Christian who already has what they’re selling.

Craig, Kirk, and I had a really good meeting. As far as I can tell, Kirk still considers me a possible recruit (which they call “rightly disposed” or “right-hearted” or “worthy” one). I just noticed that there are 60 lessons in this series. Yikes! Who will tire of it first, them or me? Seriously though, I’m just wondering how long they’re willing to work with me before giving up. I already feel like it’s been longer than normal, based on stories I read online. Craig started with the 4-lesson brochure of the same title–that’s probably the standard for how long they use to determine whether the candidate is “rightly disposed.” I may have already set a record! Nine lessons going on ten! We will see how the tenth goes. Pray for God to keep the relationship alive so I can continue to influence them with the real truth as found in the Bible.

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A Christian in a Jehovah’s Witness Bible Study: Part 8

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Lesson 8 in my Jehovah’s Witness “Bible study” with my JW friend “Craig” is on the topic “You Can Be Jehovah’s Friend.” We’re going through the book Enjoy Life Forever together, and Craig told me that he had invited another of his elders (goodness, how many elders does that little congregation need?), but that the elder could not make it, and had cancelled out on the day of. So it was only Craig and I.

We went through most of the lesson, and I held back until near the end to drop my truth bomb. We talked about Abraham, how that God told him to leave his home and head for a not-yet-revealed destination. I talked about Abraham’s amazing trust in that moment, and his lapses of trust later on. In section 5 Craig asked my why Jehovah asks us to make changes, and my answer was “for our own good.” We talked about how Jehovah can help us, his friends, and how we can communicate with him. Craig asked me “How does Jehovah communicate with us?”, expecting me to give the answer “through the Bible” as in the lesson. My answer was “through the Bible, directly to us as we pray, through circumstances, and through other trusted believers.” (These are the 4 main points of the Bible study Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby: God speaks through The Bible, Prayer, Circumstances, and the Church. I highly recommend that study; I’ve gone through it 3 times.)

Up to this point nothing was very controversial, until . . .

Until I went off script.

After all this, I told Craig that I had a question. My question was, “Above and beyond being friends with Jehovah, I believe I have experienced being adopted by Jehovah as his son, as taught in Romans 8. Have you experienced being adopted as Jehovah’s son?”

Craig gave me a half-hearted “I think so,” as though he were thinking about it while trying to give me an answer. JW’s believe (as they are taught) that adoption as sons and daughters, along with many other blessings or “kingdom privileges,” is reserved for only the anointed 144,000 believers. I gushed about the experience. “It’s fantastic!” I said. “I can call him Dad, like it says in Romans 8, “Abba, Father.” I continued to talk about John 1, where it says that to as many as have received him (Jesus) he gave the right to be legally declared adopted sons of God. I talked about until I felt it was enough, but not so much to shut him down. Then we finished up the lesson’s summary points in a friendly manner. When we got the the final question “Do you think Jehovah expects too much of his friends?” I said, “Well, yes and no. He expects perfection, as Jesus said, ‘Be perfect and your Father in heaven is perfect.’ But God also gives us his presence by his Holy Spirit, enabling us to obey him. He keeps working on us, never giving up on us, even when we fail.” Craig seemed agreeable about that. (I think there’s a lot he hasn’t thought through fully. Which I think God is using in our favor.) It was another good conversation together, and we both look forward to next week.

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A Christian in a Jehovah’s Witness Bible Study: Part 7

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Lesson 7 in the Jehovah’s Witness study book Enjoy Life Forever! is titled “What is Jehovah Like?” I approached my meeting with “Craig,” my JW friend, with some nervousness. I knew we would run into some disagreements with this topic. If found myself trying to straddle a great gulf between speaking my views and risking Craig breaking things off, or compromising and having no influence on him. The governing bully (oops, I mean governing body) of Jehovah’s Witnesses leave little room (or none) for any sailing in between those two docks. The rhetoric is strong for JW’s to have no dealings, and thus no conversations, with those who disagree with their views. Unless a candidate shows signs of teachability (that is, complete acceptance of everything they teach), they are admonished to cut off the relationship. My nervousness was compounded when I saw that again Craig had invited another of his elders to join us.

So how would I walk the tightrope? (And can I mix in any more metaphors?) Well, I decided to express my views in the form of questions. It’s a good practice with JW’s. Rather than coming across as “No, you’re wrong,” it says, “Can you help me understand your view?”

The first section asks “Why are we unable to see God?” They are right to teach that God is a spirit, without a physical body. I used that as an opportunity to ask a question, saying, “I was talking with an old-school JW, and he still believes that God has a body, but he called it a ‘spirit-body.’ Has the view on that changed? Does God have a spirit-body, and how is that different from a physical body?” That question stumped both of my JW friends. They hemmed and hawed, sometimes sounding like their answer was yes, and sometimes no. There was no consistency. They both said that more research would be needed to adequately answer that question. “Yeah, get back to me on that,” I responded, giving them an out for now.

Sections 2 and 3 had no content that I strongly disagreed with, so we just went through it without any drama.

Section 4 was “Holy spirit–God’s active force.” Oh my Lord, help! How do I express my STRONG disagreement with this, without alienating them? Craig read to me the question, “So do you think holy spirit is a person, or is it God’s active force? Why do you say that?” and he waited for my response. I paused, thinking and praying, trying not to panic. I began with “Well, I don’t think you’ll agree with my response.” In the silence that followed, the tension was real. “Because,” I added, “As I read Paul’s letters, the Holy Spirit can be grieved, and as I read the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit speaks to the believers, guiding and directing them. I believe the Holy Spirit is the presence of God himself.”

“Interesting,” said the elder. I give him credit for not undergoing the expected Jekyll and Hyde transformation. I think what saved the conversation was that I did not claim that the Holy Spirit is the third member of the triune God (aka trinity), which is what I do believe, but did not want to go there, at least not yet. I merely described the Holy Spirit as the presence of God. I’m thankful that they didn’t press me to see if my inner trinitarian would come out. Thankfully, Craig went on to the next paragraph, which talked about how Jehovah used the Holy Spirit to accomplish two amazing things: Creation and inspiration of scripture. I picked up inspiration and ran with it, mentioning that it wasn’t talking about biblical interpretation (which some groups claim), but that the Holy Spirit inspired the original writing of scripture. Scripture didn’t come about from the writers’ own understanding or ideas, but were directed to write what Jehovah wanted them to, even though their own style and personality comes through. Craig and Elder seemed content with my understanding and enthusiasm about the material.

We went through the rest of the study in a friendly and pleasant manner. When we got to the end and Craig again asked me the question “What is the Holy Spirit,” I simply reiterated what I had said before, but with understated simplicity: “The presence of God.” Period. Nothing more. Sometimes short answers are best–it can avoid confrontation, while giving the JW’s something to remember and think about.

Next week will be about becoming Jehovah’s friend. Just wait until you hear what I did with that. (Unashamed teaser!)

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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

Image from Pixabay

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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