Thanksgiving and the Deity of Christ With A Jehovah’s Witness Elder

(Continuing from the last post titled “False Prophecy 4.3 With A Jehovah’s Witness Elder.” This post is titled differently because we did not discuss the issue of false prophecy at all during this part of our three hour conversation)

JW: Ties are pagan?

KW: You remember that. We talked about how ties were originally a part of French military uniforms. You are against war and against the military so why are you wearing part of a French military uniform?

JW: (laughing) Yeah.

KW: It is the same thing.

JW: No, it’s not the same thing.

KW: Sure it is. It is the exact same argument. Just because the origin of something may be less than exemplary doesn’t mean it is the same thing for today.

JW: My conscience wouldn’t allow me to participate in any of the holidays because my worship is supposed to be clean and undefiled.

KW: My worship is clean and undefiled and I wouldn’t want to defile it with a pagan tie.

My witness friend gave the example of when Moses came down from the mountain after receiving the ten commandments. He said they told Mosses that it was a festival to Jehovah, but they still were judged. I answered that it was because they were worshipping an idol. He said that this was the same thing as Christmas.

KW: I don’t worship anything, but Jesus.

JW: Christmas is a pagan holiday. The Romans worshiped the sun and it was a political matter. Just go online and look at the origins of Christmas and you’ll learn all about it. It has nothing to do with Jesus. He wasn’t even born around that time.

KW: Do you guys celebrate Thanksgiving?

JW: No.

KW: Why?

JW: Why would I have to celebrate Thanksgiving when I am thankful every day?

KW: It has nothing to do with pagan origins.

JW: It has a political background.

KW: A bunch of Indians and pilgrims having lunch is political? They had a meal together because they were thankful they got through the Winter. How is that political?

JW: I don’t need a holiday implemented by some government to be thankful to God. I don’t need a special day for that.

KW: You don’t need to celebrate your wedding anniversary either, but if you don’t, your wife will be mad at you and you’ll end up sleeping on the couch.

JW: And? You are saying it is the same when it is not the same.

KW: Are you not saying, “I don’t need to celebrate something because I can do it every day?” It is the same thing. It is a special day set aside, just like my anniversary.

JW: It is not the same thing.

KW: Try it. Tell your wife you are not going to celebrate your anniversary because you love her every day of the year and you don’t need a special day set aside by some tradition to tell her you love her. I think you’ll be sleeping on the couch. Let me know what she says.

He changed the subject back to Christmas and completely avoided the scenario of his anniversary. He wanted to know where I draw my lines and again talked about using your common sense. I agreed with that and told him this is exactly what I am doing. Since there is nothing fundamentally wrong with being thankful and it has no pagan origins, there is no reason not to celebrate Thanksgiving. The conversation then switched to Halloween so I asked;

KW:  Is there anything wrong with eating candy?

JW: No.

KW: Is there anything wrong with dressing up in a costume?

JW: No.

KW: Is there anything wrong with going door to door?

He snickered at that.

KW: There is nothing wrong with your neighbor giving you candy and there is nothing wrong with October 31st.

JW: Okay, where does Halloween come from?

KW: I don’t care where it came from.

JW: You are celebrating the souls of those who died.

KW: No I am not. I am getting candy for my children and we got ten pounds of it this year.

JW: That’s not a good thing.

We both laughed at that. I admitted that having that much candy can be a problem, but we ration it out and eat it throughout the year. My Witness friend told me about some interview where he read about a professed witch who was happy that people were celebrating “their” holiday.

JW: Why would I mix something like that with my worship?

KW: When I go to someone’s house to get candy, that’s not worship. It’s a snack.  There are no religious connotations when my daughter dresses up as a nerd, goes to the neighbor’s house with a sack in her hand and gets some Hershey’s bars.

We then come home, make a pile out of all of the candy on the table, sort out the stuff that might have been opened, weigh it to see how much we got and then take a picture of it so that we can see this mound of candy. We then we take a whole year to eat it. That is not worship in any way, shape or form. We could do the same thing on any other day. We could dress up like Wal-Mart people, go to the store, buy a ton of candy and give it to each other. It is a snack. We don’t have to agree on this. We can agree to disagree.

JW: We tend to do that.

KW: My Christian conscience allows me to do this without violating my sense of worship because I don’t see that it has anything to do with worship.

JW: That depends on how fine tuned your conscience is. Maybe my conscience is a little bit stricter. With all of the pagan background behind it, why would I celebrate that?

KW: I don’t celebrate to pagan part of it. It’s a snack.

JW: When we first became Witnesses, my grandmother wanted to give us presents on Christmas. We just asked if we could do it on a different day. You can give gifts to your kids all year. That’s how we do it. And yes candy can be eaten all year long, but we are to keep our worship undefiled.

KW: Getting candy doesn’t have anything to do with my worship. What does eating candy have to do with worship? I still don’t get Thanksgiving. Really, why wouldn’t you celebrate Thanksgiving? Aren’t you thankful?

JW: I am thankful for everything.

KW: Just like you are thankful for your wife on an extra special day, so you can be thankful to God.

JW: It is a holiday that has been instituted by the government and is political.

KW: It isn’t political. When we celebrate Thanksgiving, it will not have anything to do with politics. It will be about faith, family, food and football.

Somehow or another we got to talking about celebrities who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. I let him ramble for as long as he needed to so that we could repair some of the damage that had occurred during the beginning of our conversation. We even got my iPad out and looked at some funny videos on YouTube. I figured anything would be good at this point. I am glad for the time we spent goofing off because he quickly jumped right back into a potentially combative topic. I knew exactly where he was going when he said;

JW: You need to look at 1 Corinthians 11:3.

KW: You get mad when we talk about the Trinity.

JW: Because it is so clear that it isn’t true.

KW: That doesn’t mean that you have to get mad.

JW: I’m not a very passionate person. I don’t get excited very easily, but this is one thing I am passionate about.

KW: Yeah, you get pretty excited when we talk about the Trinity. Are you going to get mad at me and threaten to leave me again if we talk about the Trinity?

JW: No, I have been reading a lot about the Trinity lately. I am reading the Bible and I make notes about any Scriptures which might remotely refer to that. It keeps telling me that Jesus is not God, dozens of times, and this is one of those verses.

KW: Are you looking for my opinion on this or are you just looking to refute what you think I believe?

JW: I don’t need the Watchtower to understand that the Trinity is wrong.

KW: I’m not talking about the Watchtower. I am asking about your purpose from bringing this verse up right now. Are you just looking to refute what you think I believe or do you want to understand my take on this verse?

We kept going back and forth on this. I wanted to know his purpose for bringing up the verse, but he kept telling me he doesn’t need to Watchtower to know that the Trinity is false.

JW: I am just responding to what you said about how I believe what the Watchtower says. I don’t need to Watchtower to understand that Jesus is not God.

KW: Okay, but do you want me to respond to this or do you just want to tell me what you believe?

I kept asking the question because I knew that once we got into it again, he would get upset. I wanted to be able to tell him that the only reason we are talking about this topic is because he wanted my view on the verse. In other words, don’t get mad at me for answering your question. If you don’t want to know the answer, then don’t ask it.

JW: Yes, what do you think about this?

KW: So you want to understand my view of this passage in relation to the doctrine of the Trinity?

JW: Yeah.

KW: Okay, so you are going to try to understand me, not refute me?

JW: No, this tells me right there that Jesus is not God, that God is above Him.

KW: Do you want to understand from my perspective why I don’t think this verse comes to that conclusion?

JW: You’ve told me why in the past.

KW: Right, but you don’t know why.

My Witness friend referred to a conversation we had early in our relationship when we talked about John 1:1. That is a verse he brought up awhile back and I guess my answer didn’t sit well with him. I guess he didn’t remember that I spent most of my time in that conversation in John 1:3, not John 1:1. I let him tell me what he remembered.

JW: If you just go by John 1:1, the word was god the word was with God. You can’t be with somebody and be that somebody at the same time.

KW: I agree with you, but I will not go to John 1:1. I’ll stay right here in this context and you want to understand what I believe, right? So you’re not going to slap me upside the head or anything.

JW: I don’t know, I might.

We both laughed at that. He had a sly grin on his face and both of us knew he wanted to pop me. Not in a mean or abusive way, he just wanted to slap me silly for being so difficult. I could tell by his answer that he did not remember our previous conversation very well at all. He thought I just countered 1 Corinthians 11:3 with John 1:1, but I never do that.  In fact, I rarely go to John 1:1 at all. If I need to use another verse to answer a different passage, I will point out a certain principle in the second passage and then go back to the original verse in question, but I will never do what Jehovah’s Witnesses do in ignoring a verse because they prefer a different one. That simply doesn’t answer the question. Besides, 1 Corinthians 11:3 is answered easily enough by staying in the context and asking some common sense questions. My Witness friend read to verse;

JW: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is the Christ; in turn, the head of a woman is the man; in turn, the head of the Christ is God.”

KW: Okay, and that means…?

JW: My boss is my head. I cannot be the same person.

KW: I agree.

JW: My boss has a boss above him. He is a separate person.

I took out a sheet of paper and drew an authority structure. I drew God on top with an arrow pointing down to Jesus who the points to Man who then points to Woman.

KW: God is the head of Jesus who is the head of Man who is the head of Woman. What are you telling me about this arrangement?

JW: You have the woman and the man, two different persons.

KW: Agreed.

JW: Jesus is the head of the man, two different persons. In the same context, Paul says that God is the head of Jesus, two different persons.

I drew a line in-between Jesus and Man. This separates Man and Woman into one category and Jesus and God into another. To the right of Man and Woman, I wrote the word “Human” and drew one line from Man and another from Woman and pointed the lines toward “Human.”

KW: Both Man and Woman are human. There is only one human nature. There isn’t anything else that we could call human unless it is human. So there is only one nature, but two persons in this context, each equally human.

JW: Um-hmm.

KW: The same thing applies with the nature of God. It would make more sense to you if we called God “Father” instead of God. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

I wrote the word “Father” above God and then wrote the word “God” off to the right just like I did the word “Human.”

KW: Just as Man and Woman are the same nature, human, two different persons, so you also the Father and Jesus two different persons who are the same nature, God.

JW: Why don’t we use the word “Divine?”

KW: We could.

1 Corinthians 11-3
1 Corinthians 11:3. Authority does not equal worth.

I then wrote the word “Divine” in parentheses next to the word “God.” The whole picture looked like this.

KW: So whatever the stuff is that defines the Father, the Son is the exact same stuff. We do not confuse the personalities, but their nature is the same.

JW: Um-hmmm.

KW: Talking about headship, the Man is the head of the Woman, but that doesn’t make him better.

JW: No, but he has authority over the Woman.

KW: In the context of marriage, yes.

I wrote the word “Authority” next to the word “Man.”

KW: So they are not equal in authority, but they are equal in their humanity. It is the same thing with the Father.

I wrote the word “Authority” next to the word “Father.”

KW: The Father has greater authority than Jesus, but they are equal in their divine nature.

JW: um-hmm.

KW: Just as the man and woman are the same species, one having authority over the other, so it is with God. They are separate in their personality, they are equal in their divine nature, but the Father has more authority. It is the same thing.

JW: If God has authority over Jesus, how can Jesus be God? You cannot have authority over yourself.

KW: If the man has more authority over the woman, then how can she be human?

JW: Well, the man has authority over his children, they children are human too.

KW: Exactly. They are equal in nature, but one has greater authority than the other. It is not a matter of worth. Women are not worth less than men any more than Jesus is worth less than the Father.

JW: That makes total sense, but how would you derive that Jesus is God?

KW: I wouldn’t use this passage to do that. If I use this passage to say that Jesus is not divine because the Father is greater, then to be consistent I would have to say that Woman is not human because the man has authority.

JW: I’ve been saying all along that Jesus is divine, Jesus is a god. He is of divine origin. As you said, He is made of the same stuff.

My Witness friend was having trouble understanding some of the concepts I was trying to explain. The Watchtower most definitely does not teach that Jesus is the same stuff as the Father. I needed to do a better job of defining what it is that makes the Father, God.

KW: If Jesus is created, then He can’t be of the same divine nature because the divine nature by very definition is uncreated. If Jesus is created, then He can’t be the same stuff.

JW: Why not?

KW: You can’t create God because He is eternal.

JW: Satan is divine too and He was created.

KW: Are you saying that Satan is the same stuff as God?

JW: He was divine.

KW: I don’t believe that.

My Witness friend used the book of Job as an example. In Job 1:6, “the sons of God” appeared before God and Satan was among them because he too was an angel, or as my friend likes to say, “a divine being.” I again explained that angels were created, thus they did not always exist. They cannot be the same stuff because God is eternal.

JW: So what are you saying?

KW: I am saying that Satan is not truly God.

JW: No, he is not and neither is Jesus. Basically you could say that Satan and Jesus are brothers.

KW: Now you are sounding like a Mormon.

JW: It says they are sons of God except that one took a turn for the worse.

KW: I don’t believe that Jesus was created. I believe that Satan was created by Jesus.

JW: Here is the thing, when you say Jesus is God, but God has more authority than Jesus, they need to be two persons.

KW: Persons, yes, but not being.

JW: Person is just another word for being.

KW: Think about us. Each of us is a separate being with one person. I believe that God is one being with three persons, three personalities. One being with three centers of consciousness. The Bible says that God is unique, right? He even asks the rhetorical question in Isaiah 40:25, “To Whom will you compare me?” The obvious answer is, no one. This means that God is different than anything else in all of creation because He is unique. Let me ask you this question. If God wanted to exist as a Trinity, could He?

JW: What?

KW: If God wanted to exist as a Trinity, could He?

JW: What kind of question is that?

KW: Can God do it?

From here the conversation gets very detailed and technical. Since this post is already longer than anticipated, I will stop here and pick up on the conversation in the next blog post. Look forward to it being very colorful in more ways than one. Please pray for my Jehovah’s Witness friend.

7 thoughts on “Thanksgiving and the Deity of Christ With A Jehovah’s Witness Elder”

  1. Well, I would never use II Cor 11:3 for this because the “hierarchy” is out of order. I also don’t agree with the use of the word “head” as authority. It got him talking, though.

  2. I am non-Trinitarian (ex-JW) but I really like your explanation of 1Cor. 11:3. Staying in the same vein of your explanation, if you look at a father, mother and child you are looking at 3 humans. If you look at the Father, Jesus and The Spirit wouldn’t you then be looking at 3 Gods if you follow the same logic? This I see as a problem to an otherwise very good explanation. I have not been able to understand or find any satisfying explanation of how JW’s and others can say that Jesus is Divine if he is not part of the Godhead. I don’t see anything in scripture that says divine can be applied to anyone but God. Are angels spoken of as being divine? There is a difference in being divine and originating from a divine source, in being divine and being a spirt being. Angels are spirit beings but where does it say they are divine. Does not divine = God? Am I missing anything in that respect?

    Open Minded

  3. “Defining” God is like, “Define the Universe, and give two examples.” Good luck with that! I find that while the Trinity is a good theological position to take (I have adopted it), it is next to impossible to do. It is a man-made doctrine, using examples made from observation of that which is seen, and guessing at the unseen — a truly tough thing to do!

    That said, I am really getting something out of your illustrations! I like the way you put things, plus with an easy illustration, to boot! As I have argued with non-trinitarians over the years, they make the assumption that Jewish/Hebrew traditions got their “God-ideas” from Pagans; but is that so? Maybe the Pagans got their ideas from perverting or misunderstanding the way that YHWH revealed Himself to us!

    I also find it odd that JW’s do not take the time to understand Eastern thought, because it’s definitely different than Western thought; Russell and Co. have never taken this into consideration, when they “translated” the Scriptures. Their theology reflects their ignorance.


  4. I like the diagram you drew Keith. When talking with JWs, do you ever bring up the OT/NT parallels between God the Father/God the Son such as Zechariah 10:12 and Revelation 1:7?

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