Sunday, May 27, 2007

DISCLAIMER:
The following is intended to stir up and challenge those seasoned and matured in the Christian faith. It is for those who have long studied the Bible. If you are a new believer please talk with your pastor before taking action with all of these challenges. BUT…as you grow in the faith the day will come when you will need to personally heed these words as well. While on the one hand you can not stay a spiritual baby forever…you may or may not be ready for all of this…speak with your pastor if you are not sure.


I am seriously considering becoming a full fledged, baptized and submissive Jehovah’s Witness. Yes, you did read that correctly. I have been meeting with and studying with several Jehovah’s Witnesses this last year and have been additionally attending, when I can, their Tuesday night book study at the local Kingdom Hall.

I’ve said this before…I’ll say it again…these are a great group of people. They really do care for each other, like a family…better than a family. They call on one another, pray for each other, encourage each other and fellowship with each other. My wife and I have always been respected every time we have had them in our home and have been welcomed and greeted very warmly at the Kingdom Hall just outside of Wadsworth. Not one time have we ever felt judged, condemned or pitied…I simply can not say enough about those people and how they have treated us.

I also can not say enough about the moral character of the Jehovah’s Witnesses I now call my friends. They are the “real deal”…they not only take strong, hard and uncompromising stands…but they follow through with those stands in the way they talk and behave…in the way they live. It’s truly admirable. I’m sure they have had moral failures…even in higher up leadership…but I’m also sure those failures have been far and few in-between. They don’t have mega-stars or celebrity teachers…not like we do in our evangelical subculture. And they deal with moral failures in their congregations, in love yet without compromise. They “nip it in the bud” before immorality infests their particular group or their region. I wish our evangelical churches took church discipline half as serious as Jehovah’s Witnesses do...believe it or not- we used to. Because the discipline within Kingdom Halls, Jehovah’s Witnesses have cultivated a people who not only talk about their faith…they walk it.

Also, I am amazed at their work ethic. Those people work hard for their faith…they never separate faith from works…ever. Evangelicals are only now starting to say things like “every member a minister” or “we’re all missionaries…” HA! Jehovah’s Witnesses have taught their members this principle for 100 years! They even track the mission work and are accountable to higher leadership for their personal mission work…as individuals. They don’t pay people to do the ministry or to spread their message! They don’t have professionals doing the work of the ministry! This, I believe, has been the KEY to the explosive growth of Jehovah’s Witnesses…every member is made aware, emphatically so, that they are to be on mission doing mission work…all year…every year…period. If they are not witnessing they will be held accountable to their elders. Period. They are not called “witnesses” for nothing!

There is much to be admired within the world of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

But none of that matters, in the end, if their doctrine is false. Read Ezekiel 13. But what if they are not false teachers? What if what the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach is the true, actual and real gospel? Have you ever thought about that? Have you even considered it? That’s my point. What if what they teach is the actual truth? Would you convert? That’s the boat I’m in…I’m willing to be converted by the truth…and if they have it…well…then I have to become a Jehovah’s Witness. Are you willing to be converted by the truth or do you think you know it all and have it all figured out?

We accuse them of brainwashing, we accuse them of being closed minded…we accuse them of being isolationists…what about us? Can you judge something you’ve never considered? Can you believe something and have a conviction that this or that is true…when you’ve never studied it out? When you’ve never read the counter arguments? Or are you like the Mormons who simply pray about a doctrine and believe it’s true because you feel it’s true?

Some of us have read about Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons…has the thought ever crossed your mind that when all you do is read things that confirm the conclusions you’ve already drawn that you are actually brainwashing yourself? We ridicule Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons for doing exactly what most of us do all the time! I’ve known people that surround themselves with material that confirms their prejudices and conclusions…it’s their music, books, cartoons, games, TV…their friends…everything in their lives reinforce their conclusions. They refuse to allow any other idea to creep into their world…they brainwash themselves! No wonder some kids flip out and go hog wild when they get to college…they literally discover a whole new world! And they discover that not everything in this new world is bad!

So I have put my Jehovah’s Witness friends to the test. I have asked them to leave their Watchtower and Awake! magazines at home and to simply bring a Bible and meet with me…I also insisted that we not be forced to one translation of the Bible…the least of which, frankly, the New World Translation. They absolutely agreed. I’m willing to convert…honestly…but they have to be more than great, moral, honest, decent, honorable, principled, upstanding, faithful and sincere…because they really are all of those things. They have to be more than dedicated. They have to be right. And if they are…I’ll convert and encourage each of you to do the same.

Are they right? Do you know? How do you know? I’m not at all convinced that they are…but then again we’ve not dealt with the entire issues surrounding the doctrine of the Holy Trinity either. That doctrine is either true or it is not…and it does not matter what a council, holy man or a denomination teaches…is it Biblical? Is it true? Is Yahweh Father, Son and Holy Spirit? As we’ve studied together I believe that He is…but it’s not because my JW friends have not hit me with legitimate questions and have not made some very thought provoking points…points I’d never have considered and worked through had we not met I assure you. Points we’d never dare draw attention to in our Sunday School classes…points, if even noticed, that we’d rather just skim over rather than getting our hands dirty and dealing with it.

I do not believe in Jehovah’s Witness theology…but that does not mean I’ll close my mind or cut off my friends. I have and will continue to honestly and seriously consider it. It’s the only honest thing a Christian can do. I’m very open to a new argument or a new perspective…maybe my friends have not articulated themselves clearly or properly? Maybe I’ve been more closed minded than I want to admit? Maybe both? After a year of study I do believe they are wrong…maybe they have not been as open as they’d like to think…maybe I’ve not articulated the doctrine of the Trinity correctly or clearly? Maybe both? This process is not over…at least I hope it’s not…it’s never over…nor should it be. The seeking of truth is a dangerous adventure…it stretches and pulls…it confronts…it burns.

Truth is immortal and it does not change. If the doctrine of the Trinity is true then I have nothing to worry about, right? If it’s true then there is nothing a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon can say to shake it, right? Truth can and does stand up to the sharpest of scrutiny, amen? And if the doctrine of the Trinity is true then they are in big, big, big trouble come Judgment Day, right? And if it’s false and they are right…then guess who’s in big, big, big trouble on Judgment Day?

So why are we afraid to investigate, to dialog, to be stretched and burned? Nothing will bring you more spiritual growth than being challenged to actually learn for yourself and understand what you have been taught to believe. If you find yourself in a dialog with a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon don’t buy it right away…most of them will encourage you to study for yourself before making a decision…take their advice. Read their tracks…read my tracks…hear what they have to say…then look it up in the Bible! Learn how to use a Lexicon…get familiar with the context of a passage…STUDY! Nothing bad will happen, I promise! It will take time and effort…and depending on what the issue is it might even bring you a headache…but seeking the truth is never bad! Never! Slamming the door in the face of anybody, a Jehovah’s Witness, a Mormon or anybody else does nobody any good. Do you understand that? Slamming the door in their face does not help them and it does not help you. When a Jehovah’s Witness is at your door (because Lord knows evangelicals hardly go door to door anymore) may this thought haunt you…”somebody here is in big, big, big trouble…me or them…” Think about that before you slam the door in their face.

Psalm 119:66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands.

Proverbs 18:15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.


Please leave your feedback...but anything unChristlike said about any of the mentioned groups will be removed as soon as I see it.

9 comments:

Tim said...

Awesome thoughts. We should be seekers of truth. What is truth? That question was asked by Pontius Pilate. Like Rich Mullins once said, truth isn't so much statements of faith or doctrines. Truth is alive. Truth is a person. That person is Jesus Christ. Jesus said "I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by me." To refuse to accept truth if it can be proven true is to be a worshipper of yourself and your opinions, not a worshipper of Jehova God. I believe that Christianity is true, and that Truth makes life. Nothing can change the truth. If I'm wrong, I hope I have the courage to accept the truth. I don't think I am though. Time will study will tell.

irreverend fox said...

thanks Tim...God always takes the good ones too soon...Mullins was ahead of his time...

I hope I have that courage as well...

I really like the way you put it "to refuse to accept truth if it can be proven true is to be a worshipper of yourself and your opinions..." That really puts it well.

Chris said...

Gary,

I am as passionate as you about truth. I agree we must befriend people from different cultures, beliefs, and religions if we are to win them to Christ and grow in our own faith. I also agree we must study to find ourselves solid in the Word, so we know the truth from the lie. Also knowing that the Evil One comes to 'Kill, steal and destory' and he can appear 'as an agel of light.' I can understand that the Mormon faith and Jehovah Witnesses can produce what appears to be genuine community. The church today often misses this, sadly. I think I hear your points correctly, but would like to talk with you personally about this. You presentation in this writing seems like you are a wave tossed to and fro (JAMES 1)When you get a chance give me a call brother. Help me have clarification about what is on your heart.

With Great love in CHrist,
Chris

irreverend fox said...
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irreverend fox said...
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irreverend fox said...

hey Chris...I'm not exactly sure what is not clear about this article or what would have given you reason for concern or what I wrote that "seems" like I'm being tossed about like a wave...I think it's fairly straight forward and easy to understand actually. But I'll be glad to give you a call...for the clarification of those reading this and reading your question let me also attempt to clarify publicly...

If the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York is the "faithful and discreet slave" referred to in Matthew 24:45 then every one, me...you...all us must convert. Period.

That's a big IF.

All of us must remain open minded to being changed...by the truth. Chris...if the Jehovah's Witnesses can disprove the doctrine of the Trinity and can demonstrate that they are in fact God's faithful slave on earth then make no mistake...I will convert and encourage every person I meet to do the same. The question is...can they do it? Can they disprove it? I have yet to read anything by them or anyone else that can...but what if they can? Would you convert if the evidence demanded it? Would you become a Muslim if the evidence demanded it? A Mormon? A Roman Catholic? Are you open minded?

Being open minded does not mean you are tossed around...it means that you have the courage to honestly assess a statement and have the courage to give it a fair hearing. If it lacks then you move on...I don't think most Baptists are any more open minded then most Jehovah's Witnesses.

My second point is if Jehovah's Witnesses are brain washed as we accuse them of then we are hypocrites...we approach "study" the same way they do. We read things we already agree with, we hang out with and want to meet people who agree with us, we listen to music that agrees with us, when looking for a job we pray "God let me work with Christians...", many will quit a job because "nobody was a Christian..." ...we surround ourselves with things and people that reinforce our beliefs...it's brainwashing when they do it AND when we do it.

Think about your own beliefs. How many things do you believe that is drastically different than what you were first taught when you were first saved? Most people, for example who believe "once saved always saved" were taught that when they first got saved. Most who deny that doctrine were taught that doctrine was not true when they first got saved. Or, tongues...most who don't believe it's for everybody believe that because that is what they were taught when they first became believers. Guess what? Most people who do believe it's for everybody today believe that because that was what they were first taught when they were first saved. What about women pastors? Well...however you feel about that is probably what you were first taught...on and on.

As you know, I'm a "five point Calvinist" so I believe God is Sovereign in all things including Salvation. But from an "under the sun" perspective I fear that most faithful Baptists would be faith Jehovah's Witnesses had they been raised as Jehovah's Witnesses. The reason they are Baptist is because they were either raised Baptist or were saved in a Baptist church. That bothers me.

I hope this is clearer...my challenge is to hear what the Jehovah's Witnesses have to say...to be open minded...and weigh what they say with the Bible...not the Baptist Faith and Message or the Nicene Creed...those things are wonderful tools...but they are not infallible ones. If they have the truth, or if Islam has the truth, or if Orthodox Christianity has the truth…then convert! Don’t fear the truth!

Chris…if we are in the truth…the true truth…then we have nothing to fear…God’s true truth will stand against all scrutiny. So I charge ahead and as I do my faith strengthens.

Oh...one more thing...they don't just "appear" to have geniune community...they have real community...unless of course only Orthodox Christians can have and experience real community. Then if that is the case then obviously they don't have it. I've never heard "geniune community" defined in such a narrow way.

Tammy said...

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." (John 1:1)
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

irreverend fox said...

Tammy,

great texts! now understand that JW's translate the end of John 1:1 as "was a God..." and they do so for a reason. it's not like they just pulled the "A" out of thin air...now I believe they mistranslate that verse and in the next several articles I'll be dealing with why.

just know that they do have an argument to at least consider.

but you are on the right track, great job! John 1 is the greatest chapter regarding the nature of Christ in the greatest book regarding the nature of Christ!

Tim said...

I don't get what was so hard for some to understand about this blog. It was all about the fact that no matter what we should always be seekers of the truth and willing to leave ourselves open and vulnerable to the truth. Whatever the true Truth is, that is what we should follow. If it can be proven beyond any doubt that we as Christian do not have the true Truth then we need to have the moral courage to follow whatever the Truth is. As I said, I believe with all my heart that Christianity is the true Truth, but if I can be absolutely, beyond any doubt proved wrong, then I need to follow truth and hope I would have the courage to do so and not cling to something I know to be a lie.