If you recall in my last post about the 2013 Memorial of Jehovah’s Witnesses, there was a man who introduced himself to me and offered to meet with me in order to answer any questions I had regarding the events of the night. I have met with him twice now, once last week and again today.
I promised to write up something about our meeting, but since I left him with a bunch of unanswered questions last week, I figured I would wait to report on our meeting until he had a chance to get back to me with some answers. That was supposed to happen today. It didn’t.
I met with my new JW friend at the same place and time, but this time he had another partner. Last week’s buddy was VERY new as a Jehovah’s Witness and contributed little to our discussion. This week’s new partner was a fellow elder. That is how I found out that JW1 was an elder also. I suspected that anyway.
I think the best way to sum up the important aspects of the two conversations is to describe some of my questions and the answers given in dialogue format. Obviously, I will not have all of the exact words used in our conversation, but I will do my best to give an accurate report on the two discussions.
When I met with JW1 and JW2 last week, we talked about a lot of topics. I’m not sure if that is what Witnesses learn during their “Theocratic Ministry School,” but it is very diffiCULT to keep a JW on one topic for very long. The doctrines in their theology are so intertwined that in an hour’s time you could start talking about the immortality of the soul and end up talking about the Trinity. I’m not exaggerating as I’ve had that happen before.
My primary questions for this discussion were related to First Corinthians 11:26 and why Jehovah’s Witnesses still celebrate the memorial if they are taught that Jesus arrived in 1914. Actually, I had two different questions which can be worded in the exact same way. “Why are we here” and “Why are we here?”
The point of the first question is, why do you still observe the memorial if Jesus has already arrived? The emphasis of the second questions is, if Jesus only celebrated the memorial with the anointed remnant (those who have a heavenly hope), then why are all the other Jehovah’s Witnesses who are not part of the new covenant in attendance at all? I have since come up with a third question, “Why was I there,” but I’ll get to that at a later date. First let me do my best to recollect the discussion of the first two questions. Here is part of our dialogue.
Keith Walker (KW): Here is what I don’t understand. If Jesus arrived in 1914, then why do you still celebrate the memorial?
JW1: The presence of Jesus began in 1914, but He is not yet present.
KW: How can He be present if He hasn’t arrived?
JW1: Well, there is a lot you don’t understand.
JW1: The presence of Jesus is not a one-time event. It is more like a process, a process of arriving.
KW: You make it sound like someone can be a little bit pregnant. You are either pregnant or you are not. The way I see it, we have one of two options. We either observe the memorial because He has yet to arrive, or we do not observe the memorial because He is present. Which one is it?
JW1: It isn’t that simple.
KW: Why does it have to be complicated? When I look at the statement in 1st Corinthians 11:26, I take it at face value. Jesus said, “Do this until I come back to get you.”
JW1: I see your point. I’ll have to ask someone else who can explain it better.
(Fast forward to the meeting today where JW3 tried to dominate the conversation)
KW: JW1 and I were talking last week and I am looking forward to hearing his answers regarding 1st Corinthians 11:26. I am confused with your view of how Jesus can be present, but has yet to arrive and how that relates to why you still observe the memorial.
JW3: Jesus said to observe the Lord’s evening meal until He arrives, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop.
KW: According to your speaker it does. He said that there will be a time when the memorial will no longer be celebrated because all of the anointed will be in heaven ruling with God.
JW3: Yes, that is true. At some point in time all of the anointed will be dead and will go to heaven.
KW: That is why I am confused. The emphasis of 1st Corinthians 11:26 is Jesus coming to get us, not people dying and then going to be with Him.
JW3: That is essentially the same thing.
KW: You are going to have to help me understand that, because I don’t get it. Again, I’m just taking this at face value. There is a huge difference between Jesus coming back to get us and us leaving to be with Him. If Jesus meant that, then why didn’t he just say, “Do this until you die?”
JW3: It all goes back to Jehovah’s original purpose for the earth. The 144,000 live in heaven and rule over the great crowd on earth. Once all of the 144,000 are in heaven, there will no longer be a need to observe the memorial on earth because they will all be in heaven.
KW: What does that have to do with Jehovah’s original purpose for the earth?
JW3: Do you believe in the immortality of the soul?
KW: Yes, I do.
JW3: The Bible teaches that you are a soul and that once you die, you cease to exist.
KW: That is an interesting thing to talk about, but it doesn’t answer my questions.
JW3: It is a very important topic and it needs to be discussed.
KW: I agree, but I would like to get to that later. I’m still trying to get an answer to my question about the memorial and I don’t see what God’s original purpose for the earth ties into that.
JW3: (LONG discourse about how Jehovah is going to restore the earth to its original paradise condition and restore His original purpose for mankind.)
(It seem that one of the Jehovah’s Witness tactics is to avoid questions they don’t like by giving lengthy details about a subject that has nothing to do with the question asked in hopes that the questioner forgets the original question. I decided to pursue this new direction because it brought up a question I have thought about, but have never had the opportunity to ask a Witness.)
KW: So only 144,000 people are going to go to heaven because it was God’s original purpose for man to live forever on the earth.
JW3: Yes, that is correct.
KW: Was it part of God’s original purpose to have 144,000 people ruling from the heavens?
KW: Then how can you say that God is restoring His original purpose for the earth… if He never intended for people to live in heaven?
JW1: (Drops his head as he immediately understood the point)
JW3: (Ignores the question) This is just a detour.
KW: I see that.
JW3: Jehovah is going to restore the earth to its original purpose where mankind will reside upon it forever. If you look at Proverbs 2:21…
KW: Yes, I understand, but you are missing my point. Look, my favorite car is a 1969 Camaro super sport. If I told you that I had one and I was going to restore it to its original condition, I couldn’t use 144,000 new parts. It wouldn’t be a restoration.
KW: (sigh) Yes, He can, but He can’t create squared circles because it is illogical. There is no such thing as a squared circle. It doesn’t make sense any more than saying that God is going to restore the original purpose for the earth if He never intended to have 144,000 people in heaven in the first place.
JW1: The Bible doesn’t actually say that Jehovah is going to restore the earth to its original condition.
KW: Then why do you guys keep saying it? If God has a new plan and wants to have 144,000 people in heaven ruling with Him, I have no problem with that. I just don’t understand why you keep describing it in a way that God never did.
JW1: (Turns to JW3 and laughs) Maybe we should stop saying that.
(At this point I knew I was not going to get my questions answered because of JW3 so I decided to ask more questions.)
KW: Since we’re off topic anyway, let me ask another question about something you said about the two different groups.
JW3: You mean the anointed and the great crowd.
KW: Yeah, those guys. JW1, you said last week that the only kind of Christians who existed in the first century are the anointed correct?
JW1: That is correct.
KW: You also said today that their job is to feed the household of faith, the other sheep or the great crowd. Did I get that right?
JW1: Yes, that is what I said.
KW: Here is what I don’t understand. If the anointed have been in existence since the first century and their job is to dispense food to the great crowd, yet the great crowd did not come onto the scene until the early 20th century, then who were they feeding for 1900 years?
JW1: There is a lot you don’t understand.
There is a WHOLE lot more that happened during our two conversations, but you get the basic gist of it here. JW3 is too quick to answer, defensive and argumentative. JW1 is genuinely interested in me as a person and is intrigued in some of my views. When I say that JW3 is too quick to answer, I mean that it is almost as if his pride is tied to how quickly he can provide an answer. Mind you that the majority his “answers” are more responses than answers. Half the time I don’t think he is really listening to my questions.
Early in the conversation I explained to them that I was there to learn more about what they believe. I told them that people cannot agree or even disagree with each other unless they first understand what the other person is saying. That is my goal with these guys and I have learned some new things in the process. Obviously, I do hope to explain to them what I believe to be true as well, but only when we truly understand what each other is trying to say. At this point, I am still earning the right to be heard.