Last week after attending Congregation Bible Study / Theocratic Ministry School / Service Meeting, I talked with Denny, asking him to explain the relationship between Michael and Jesus. I specifically asked “What part of Michael was transferred to Jesus?” (Watchtower alternates between saying that the “life force” was transferred, or that the memories from Michael were transferred.) The interesting thing is, Denny had pretty good answers. He had obviously thought about the issue (unlike most JW’s), and had settled on some pretty logical explanations in his mind. He likened what was transferred to a computer program, or software. It made good logical sense within his own system. And yes, you can have a good logical explanation for anything, but if your original premises are faulty, then the whole system is faulty.
Anyway, his answers caught me off guard, not because I thought they were credible (far from it), but because I expected him to have the same ignorance level that most JW’s have. When we started talking, Denny claimed to be a simpleton, and that he needed simple, clear explanations for things. At the end of the conversation, I told him, “You are not a simpleton, as you claim.” I don’t think he was being deceptive. Just like me, he doesn’t see himself as a genius. There are different types of “smart”, and his, like mine, is the “boil it down to a simple concept” type of smart.
So I came away wondering if I had had any impact at all on his view of Jesus and Michael. He seemed to be pretty comfortable with his understanding of the issue, and able to support his view very skillfully. But my hope is that I got him to think about his view like never before. Perhaps articulating his view out loud, and hearing himself say it, might have caused him to see it from a different perspective. I did notice thoughtful looks a few times during the conversation. My hope is that those looks indicated an internal tension that his poker face would not reveal.
For some moments I was stumped, not knowing how to continue in our conversation. What did I do? I did the following, and they are my tips for you:
- Go back over something already discussed, asking for further clarification. “Let me see if I understand what you’re saying. I think that what you believe is this . . .”
- Share scripture. “OK, so what do you think of this verse? How do you explain what the Bible says here?”
- Show them the logical outcome of what they believe. “If what you’re saying is true, it would seem like Jesus had a past life, like reincarnation, or the spiritist view.”
Then just shut up, and let them respond. And allow God’s word and your logic to have it’s effect, even if you can’t see it.