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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Frank Armstrong’s No Skin in the Game is a pithy introduction to defending orthodox Christianity against Jehovah’s Witness beliefs. Central to Armstrong’s book is the notion that we must not focus merely on firing proof-texts back and forth, but rather that we ought to see the meta-narrative of Scripture and keep that in mind as we evaluate claims of how to interpret key texts.
Armstrong focuses on this meta-narrative of God as love and uses it to show that God the Son and the Father must be co-eternal. Moreover, he continues to note the continuity of Scriptures between the Testaments by showing that those things ascribed to the Father (which Jehovah’s Witnesses call Jehovah) are then ascribed to Christ (eg. creation). It is truly remarkable how many applicable examples Armstrong manages to pack into a short work.
The book provides not just a grab-bag of important verses but a guide for how to use the Bible to reason with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Several examples of verses shown with key phrases changed to reflect Jehovah’s Witness theology highlight this. The book is therefore thoroughly practical and will be useful to those hoping to engage with Jehovah’s Witness theology.
If I had one critique it is that the example of conjoined twins alongside the Trinity may cause some confusion. Armstrong argues that conjoined twins show in principle that one being may be the center of multiple persons, and as far as demonstrating that, it may not be objectionable. The problem is that such a comparison begs further comparison, and the example quickly breaks down as one considers whether conjoined twins really are one being or are two that happen to occupy the same space. Other difficulties arise upon further reflection. For what Armstrong was trying to demonstrate, it works alright, but the problem with any analogy of the Trinity is that it breaks down and may cause confusion if pressed.
No Skin in the Game is an exciting, economical introduction to witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses. I recommend it.
+Brief, readable style
+Puts forward many key texts
+Focuses on core ideas
-Example of conjoined twins may cause confusion.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review. I was not obligated to provide any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.
Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)
Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for my writings on science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!
The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.
It’s another week and I’m here to bring you some more great reading for your weekend. Be sure to let the authors know what you think, and let me know here as well. Topics for this week include the Grand Canyon and the biblical Flood, Deborah as leader, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and more!
Deborah and the “no available men” argument– A refutation of the notion that Deborah was only chosen to lead Israel because there were “no available men” who could or would do so. Unfortunately, this argument is fairly common among those who do not wish to affirm the Bible’s teaching on women’s equal leadership.
The Grand Canyon’s Magnificent Witness to Earth’s History– Often, young earth creationists argue that the Grand Canyon can only be explained (or at least is better explained) by the biblical Flood as a global flood. A new book is challenging that perception. Check out this post to learn more.
7 Things to Know about Jehovah’s Witnesses– It is important to understand others’ beliefs. Here is a post outlining 7 points of belief for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Calamity (The Reckoners)– Superheroes and villains face off with those who seek vengeance against those villains who destroyed their world. Check out this look at worldview issues in Brandon Sanderson’s latest Young Adult novel, Calamity. Also check out my own reflection on the book.
I’ve got another round up of reads for you, dear readers! This week, there are some posts I’m pretty excited about. Thinking about attacking the doctrine of the Trinity? Our first post tells you how not to defend one prominent anti-Trinitarian theology. Why are there books in my Bible that don’t mention God? Found a post for ya! Other posts include Star Trek and theology, the death of the apostles, and standing up for women at a men’s retreat. Let me know what you think, and be sure to let the authors know as well!
How Not to Defend Jehovah’s Witness Theology– An excellent post analyzing the way that non-Trinitarians attempt to attack the doctrine of the Trinity. It’s not enough to poke holes in another theory. This is a piece well worth your time!
The 2 Books of the Bible that Don’t Mention God– Here’s an interesting post looking at the book of Esther and the Song of Songs, 2 books which don’t mention God. Why are they in the Bible. Disclaimer: I have been convinced that YHWH–the divine name–is mentioned in Song of Songs, but I think this post is still excellent.
5 Reasons to Reunite with Reunion- Star Trek: The Next Generation Retrospective– I love Star Trek. I love when I get to think about theology and Star Trek. If you have those loves, you’ll enjoy this post.
What Makes the Death of the Apostles Unique?– All kinds of people are willing to die for their faith. Here is a post showing why the Disciples’ willingness to die sets them apart. I have written on this topic myself: “Dying for Belief: Analysis of a Confused Objection to one of the evidences for the Resurrection“, so check out my post on it as well!
Standing up for our Sisters at a Men’s Retreat– Men have privilege. It’s true. Here is a post about how we should stand up for those who do not have the same advantages, even in man-to-man talks.
Elves, Orcs, and Freaks: The Shared Authorial Vision of JRR Tolkien and Flannery O’Connor– Garret Johnson has written a very interesting look into the works of Tolkien and O’Connor. He notes that they viewed fiction as reality from a different outlook. It’s a fascinating post, and there is a second part, which can be viewed here.
An Encounter with a Jehovah’s Witness– It is easy for Christians to slam their doors on those who come door-to-door. What if, instead, we engaged them? This post is a model for engagement and provides some ways forward to engage with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Day After: My Thoughts on the Presidential Election– Michael Licona, author of The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, one of the best books I’ve read on the resurrection of Jesus, offers his thoughts after the election.
Human Footprints in Dinosaur Footprints– Over at GeoCreationism (a highly recommended site), Mike addresses the notion that human and dinosaur footprints have been found together or side by side. Some argue that this supports young earth creationism. Mike explores the paleontological evidence.
Meet the Multiverse– Edgar Andrews, author of what I think is the best introduction to Christian apologetics with a scientific emphasis, Who Made God?, explores the notion of the multiverse and whether it offers a challenge to the Fine Tuning argument for the existence of God. Regarding said argument, I’ve written on it in my post on the teleological argument.
Did Jesus Claim to be Divine? (Answering Islam)– I found this look at answering Muslim objections to the deity of Christ refreshing. It offers an essentially presuppositional approach, which I have found to be very useful when engaging with Muslims. Check it out.