Over the weekend, there were Jehovah’s Witnesses that had flown in to go door-to-door in our community. I typed up a brief list of things to think about or discuss if they are in your own neighborhood. I do not claim this is comprehensive; this is just a starting point for discussions.
Above all else, please be courteous and kind in all of your interactions with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
If you are interested in having a discussion, be aware of a few things:
1) They have certain passages they have been trained to expect (eg. John 1:1) and will not deviate from their own “translation” which, though wrong, will not be fruitful in trying to dissuade them from.
2) They are seeking the truth, just as we are.
3) They do not believe Jesus is God, but rather Michael the Archangel (though I have had some deny this)–see below for a few verses to discuss this.
4) They believe they must work to get to heaven. Emphasize God’s grace in your own interactions with them.
If you do want to go into some depth, here are some good passages:
1. Compare Isaiah 44:24 (YHWH/The LORD [they’d say Jehovah] is speaking and says that God made the heavens “by myself.” to Colossians 1:16 in which the son creates all things–if the Son creates all and God creates all “by myself,” who is the Son? [Note: their translation will say that the Son creates all “other” things in Colossians 1, inserting the word “other” many times in the opening chapter where it doesn’t exist in the Greek manuscripts, but this doesn’t undermine the point, because even if it says “other” things, those other things are things Jehovah creates “by myself” in Isaiah]
2. Compare Revelation 22:8-9 [John bows down to an angel, thinking, apparently, the angel is God or worthy of worship] to Hebrews 1:5-6 (and following) [the Son is listed as being worshiped and even angels must worship the Son].
3. Walk through Jeremiah 23:5-6 in their own translation. Ask who the first verse is about–who is the one from the branch of David? Jesus, clearly, and they’ll agree. Then in verse 6, what is the name that Jesus will be called–JEHOVAH our righteousness. It says this in their own translation. So if the prophecy is about Jesus, and Jehovah says the name of this coming king will be Jehovah…. who is Jesus?
Finally, pray for those with whom you disagree.
A recent reading in church struck me because I’ve been in conversations with some who deny the deity of Christ of late. The reading was from Luke 8. Verses 38-39 are what caught my attention:
The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him (NIV).
Did you catch that? Jesus says “tell how much God has done for you.” How does the man respond? By telling what Jesus had done for him. The text goes to a different story immediately after this. There is no correction of the man’s behavior or any implication that the man did the wrong thing. Jesus tells him to speak of what God has done, and he obeys by telling what Jesus had done. Who, then, is Jesus?
One may respond by saying that Jesus is the means by which God healed the man. Thus, it was proper for the man to speak of Jesus without implying that Jesus is God. However, this misses the crucial linking of the terminology: the parallelism in “how much God has done for you” with “how much Jesus had done for him” is quite clear in both the English translation and the Greek original. This parallelism does not suggest any kind of difference between the two, or some kind of intermediary in between the two.
Thus, it appears that here in Luke we have a subtle acknowledgement of the deity of Christ.
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“In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The Lord [ Hebrew = YHWH] Our Righteous Savior.’” – Jeremiah 33:15-16 (NIV)
These verses are clearly a prophecy about the coming Messiah. They also clearly state that that Messiah, a human from David’s line, will be called YHWH. In other words, this prophecy proclaims, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, that the savior would be God incarnate. The one from the branch of David will be called YHWH, the righteous one.
I have sought out another round of really recommended posts for you, dear readers. I hope these posts bring you edification, as they did for me. Let me know what you thought in the comments here, and be sure to drop a comment on those you appreciated!
Is Christian Belief A Science-Stopper: 7 Quick Points– It is often alleged that Christianity becomes a science-stopper. People who are Christians, it is said, are somehow defective intellectually in ways which stall science; or perhaps it is instead that Christian belief leads to a kind of gullibility regarding scientific explanation. Here are seven points which argue that Christianity does not stop science.
The forgotten lesson of Bonhoeffer and the American Church– What might the story of Bonhoeffer have to tell us for today? Has his life as a Christian been misunderstood? Check out this interesting article on the man, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Beelzebul: Poop god– Who said the Bible has no comedy in it? Check out this post which talks about Beelzebul, the poop god, among others.
Two Paths Affirming Women’s Ordination– How might one go about arguing for women’s ordination? Check out this post, which traces two ways that women’s ordination has been achieved historically and in modernity.
Christology: Deity and Eternality– An excellent resource for those of us wanting to look into how to show the deity and eternality of Christ. I highly recommend keeping a copy of this somewhere close at hand.
When Questionable Leaders Make Us Doubt– There have too often been Christian leaders in the news for poor decisions, making mistakes, or even being abusive. What do we do when these failures in Christian leadership make us doubt? My own thought is that we need to recognize that being Christian doesn’t automatically make us cease sinning, but here are some deeper insights I thought were helpful.