Stepping Into the Booby Traps

When I was young, my brother and I and our friends would take turns creating a “spook house” for each other out of our bedroom. We would set up strings on the door, and trip wires on the floor, to cause a stack of blocks to topple, or a string of popping-caps to go off. For a while it was exciting and fun, until it became boring once we realized that what was happening was harmless noise. Of course we couldn’t have sharp swords or heavy weights aimed at each other. Our booby traps were just noise and not much more.

Recently my wife and I had Nate over for lunch. Nate is a former neighbor of ours. After we both moved away, he has since become a Jehovah’s Witness. Recently he reached out to us, and we invited him over. (Can I get a “Wow” for that divine appointment? Thank you.) As my wifey and I prepared to meet with Nate, she asked for coaching as to what topics to avoid, and which to focus on. This was very wise of her, since she has heard from me that certain subjects can trigger arguments, endless debates, games of “scripture ping-pong”, and rabbit trails. I call these topics Booby Traps. Avoiding them is wise.

But sometimes they just come up in conversation, and it cannot be helped. And sure enough, while we were talking with Nate, it happened. Wifey was sharing her testimony and how salvation by undeserved kindness, through faith, apart from works, was so vital to her. And in the process, somehow three booby traps were sprung all at once. We’re not sure how it happened, but Nate suddenly launched into three diatribes about the Christmas and Easter holidays, crucifixion on a torture stake rather than a cross, and the use of the name Jehovah, one right after another. (Surprisingly, he missed the expected “faith without works is dead” speech.)

I could tell that my Wifey’s heart had sunk, wondering how the conversation had taken such a wrong turn. I couldn’t tell her until later, but the reality was that even though it looked like we had lost control, God was still in control. The same thing has happened to me several times before. I have found that the best strategy is to let the JW run through their diatribe until they’re done, and then simply continue on with your own agenda. That is what I did with Nate. When he was done talking, I held up my tablet, open to Ephesians 2:8-9 in the New World Translation app, and said to my Wifey, “I think this is the verse you were talking about, yes? Why don’t you read that for us?”

Her eyes got back their twinkle, and she took the tablet and read the verses, picking up right where she had left off, telling about how she learned that we have to trust in what Jesus did for us for our salvation, and continuing to trust in God to work in us to bring about change. It was as if Nate’s diatribe had not taken place at all, or at least that it was seen as the parenthetical side-topic that it truly was.

We had tripped a booby trap (or several), and had done what I did when I was a kid–recognized the trap for what it was–mostly noise–and had chosen not to react to it. There are a number of topics that I consider to be booby traps that I avoid. I know how to argue against them, and I will if I sense that the JW is ready for the discussion. But until they’re ready, I will mostly ignore them. The booby traps include:

The cross vs. torture stake

Celebration of holidays

Using Jehovah for God’s name

The necessity of door-to-door ministry

The deity of Jesus

Heaven or earth as the believers’ hope

And others that I’m not thinking of right now.

Yes, these topics are important, and some are vital to our faith (e.g. the deity of Jesus). However, unless the JW is ready to seriously dialogue on these topics, attempting to discuss them will bear no fruit. Reacting to these noisy booby traps will only be giving them weight that they don’t deserve.

If you do need a transition from the booby trap back to your topic, you can simply use “OK, so, getting back to __________, . . .”. But I have found that transitions are not even necessary. Especially when what God wants you to discuss is much more important than their booby trap.


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23 responses to “Stepping Into the Booby Traps

  1. The different booby traps you placed would not be a trap at all for any person having enough knowledge about history. Even an atheist historian or person with enough scholarly knowledge could tell you at the time of Christ there were not yet such killings by the Romans with cross beams, but at that time people were put on vertical wooden stakes.

    Concerning Using Jehovah for God’s name you could ask Jews or Hebrew speaking people are go to a library and find many books having enough material on it to show that was or is the general used name for the God of Israel, Whose name is presented by the Tetragrammaton.
    Exodus 6:3 (TS98)
    3 “And I appeared to Aḇraham, to Yitsḥaq, and to Ya῾aqoḇ, as Ěl Shaddai. And by My Name, יהוה, was I not known to them?
    But today many know this Holy Name יהוה

  2. What is vital to people their faith is that it should be in accordance to the Holy Scriptures and not in accordance to false human dogma’s like the Trinity (which you seem to adhere and to prefer instead of keeping to Biblical Truth)

    • I contend that the triune nature of God is biblical truth. I prefer the term “tri-unity” rather than “trinity.”

      • The unity between Jesus and his heavenly Father should be taken as the example for our unity with Christ and with God. The same as that unity of Christ with God does not make him into God, our unity with God also shall not make us into God.

        A norm of “tri-unity” against “trinity” shall still give too much confusion and does not make it clear if you still believe in a Tri-une godhead.

      • To clear that up, yes I do believe in a triune Godhead. Every term used to describe the triune God can be misunderstood. The common misunderstanding by JW’s is that by “trinity” we mean that we believe in three gods rather than one God in three persons.

      • Can you make that more clear?

        Do you mean that you believe in three gods rather than one God in three persons?

      • Jehovah’s Witnesses think that we believe in three gods, or in a three-headed god. We do not. We believe in one God existing in three persons. To use a modern illustration, I like to think of Jesus as an avatar of God the Father. The similar word in the Greek New Testament would be eikon (εἰκὼν), the image of the invisible God.

      • The God of the JW is the same God as ours and as the God of Christ and God of Abraham, Who is still the God of the Jews and Jeshuaists.

        You say you donot believe in three gods. This would mean that your god Jesus would have the same qualities and would be exactly the same as the Main God or God the Father. That means your God is not all-knowing (omniscient) and can not be everywhere (omnipresent) like our God and the God of Israel. Jesus had to learn everything and did not know a lot of things. He did not even know when he would be returning to earth, which according to us is very very important. He also did not know who would be seated next to him in the Kingdom of God. When he is God it is very strange that he does not know who he would invite in his own kingdom.

        Your avatar god has less equalities with his Father God than we do find the sub gods having in other religious groups, though you would probably call them, like the Christian Churches call them polytheists, worshippers of multiple gods.

        Concerning the eikon, you like us are created in the image of God, but that does not make us to be God. Jesus was representing his heavenly Father and did put his own will aside (which he could not or would not have to do, when he is God) and as sent one from God, Jehovah God being his heavenly Father, he naturally had eikon or an image of his Fahter in heaven, like you probably also have resemblances with your father and mother. But being like your earthly father does not make you to be him, like it did not make Christ Jesus to be God.

      • It’s interesting that you say, “That means your God is not all-knowing (omniscient) and can not be everywhere (omnipresent) like our God and the God of Israel.” Does that mean that you believe differently from the Jehovah’s Witness (Watchtower) view that Jehovah is not omniscient or omnipresent? I’m just curious.
        Concerning Jesus not knowing stuff, that would be part of his “emptying himself,” from Philippians 2:7. When he became human, he gave up his omniscience, but the Father retained omniscience. Upon his resurrection and ascension, Jesus gained back his omniscience and omnipresence. That is how we can have the “spirit of Christ” as mentioned in Romans 8.
        Yes, we share the image of God. But when it says that Jesus is the “image of the invisible God,” that is expressing something unique about Jesus, something that we do not share. He alone is the “image of the invisible God,” in a way that we are not. What would you say is the uniqueness of Jesus having the image of the invisible God?

      • It would surprise us if the JW would not believe God is everywhere and would not believe He knows everything.

        That Jesus would be the image of the invisible God does not make him yet to be God, the same as his DNA coming directly from the heavenly Father like any child born from a father and mother does not make the child to be the father nor the mother, though he or she might resemble one or the other very much.

  3. For many people Celebration of holidays could be a serious killing matter, making them not only worshippers of a false god but also going in against the Will of God not to partake at heathen festivals.

    We do not know in which way Celebration of holidays could be a booby trap for JW (because we do not belong to that denomination and have nothing to with them) but we can only hope that they too as serious Bible Students would follow the Biblical instructions and would only keep to the holy days given by the Only One True God …. Though we do know they do not celebrate all the by God given holy days, but there we can understand their (certain) following concerning an end of the old festivals by the New Covenant, but that is a matter of discussion. In any case there are enough other Chrsitan denominations who keep to the Jewish festivals and do not celebrate the false Catholic and certain protestant groups their heathen festivals.

    For sure the JW would agree not to have Christmas and Easter, because they are heathen festivals. For sure they also celebrate the given day by Christ and his heavenly Father 14 Nisan. Though we also do know they do not remember 15-22 Nisan, whilst that is also a given set apart period by God. but that does not make it yet a booby trap for them nor somebody else.

  4. Heaven or earth as the believers’ hope to our knowledge would never be a booby trap for a JW because for as much as we know about their teaching, is that they do follow the Biblical teaching about the Kingdom of Jesus and the Kingdom of God as well as the Kingdom of heaven and that they are very much aware that the Kingdom of God shall also be here on earth and not only in heaven. We are also sure they do know and understand the words of the Lord’s Prayer very well.

    It is known that several (so called) Christian denominations teach their flock that people shall go to heaven. Some even have a contradictory teaching that all people are saved, though still they also teach and make their flock afraid with eternal torture in a place of eternal fire at a place they call hell (instead of taking the word hell for what it really means in the original language and should also be in their language). Also are there people who claim people become star in heaven, but that are all false teachings JW (we are for sure) do not teach and as such can only be a booby trap for those who keep onto false human and philosophical teachings.

    • I believe in the new heaven and new earth, as described in Revelation 21:1-2, where you have the heavenly Jerusalem coming down and landing on earth. Thus the two become connected. I believe believers will have access to both, and will be able to travel between them.

      • The travelling in between is nowhere notated in the Bible, but if you want to believe that nobody would object, because that is the freedom of believe, and such matter is nowhere notated as something to be believed or not and as such can still be considered a mystery we do not know and can not judge about.

      • The only evidence I know of traveling between the two is Jesus, who, in his glorified body, ascended to the Father, then came back to appear post-resurrection to the apostles and others. Then we’re told that we will be like him (First John 3:2).

  5. Pingback: Matthew 13 – Parables on Kingdom mysteries | Belgian Biblestudents - Belgische Bijbelstudenten

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