(Continuing from the last post)
KW: I have a question. How can I know the difference between new light and false prophecy?
Silence. Except for the crickets, of course.
JW: What do you mean by false prophecy? Do you mean in relation to this subject?
KW: In general. Do you remember one of our previous conversations when I told you about a friend of mine who belonged to a group which did make false prophecies? What if his leaders claimed to make an adjustment or if they said they had new light? How can I define a false prophet in such a way that he can’t use the excuse of new light?
In Deuteronomy 18 there is a test. If someone claims things in the name of the Lord and it doesn’t come true, then that is a false prophet. But if a false prophet could say, “Well, we got new light,” then how do I know if he is really a false prophet? How do you define a false prophet?
JW: Someone who claims something in the name of Jehovah that is not true.
KW: But if that prophet then says, “Well, I got new light,” are they still a false prophet?
KW: So, now they are not a false prophet?
JW: Not if they correct their view.
KW: They have to correct their view. The world didn’t end in 1975. You can’t give them credit for that.
My Witness friend then spoke about Apollos in Acts 18:24-28 and how he was corrected by Aquila and Priscilla. I pointed out that Apollos was not prophesying future events. My friend then pulled out another sheet of paper with a quote from the June 22, 1995 Awake magazine pages 8-9. He read;
JW: “Consequently, A.H. Macmillan explained later: ‘I learned that we should admit our mistakes and continue searching God’s Word for more enlightenment. No matter what adjustments we would have to make from time to time in our views, that would not change the gracious provision of the ransom and God’s promise of eternal life.’
Indeed, God’s promises can be trusted! It is humans who are prone to error. Therefore, true Christians will maintain a waiting attitude in obedience to Jesus’ command. They will keep awake and ready for Christ’s inevitable coming as God’s Executioner. They will not allow false predictions to dull their senses and cause them to ignore the true warning of the world’s end.”
KW: So, it was a false prediction.
JW: (Angrily) What does that change? We are still living in this world, God’s judgment is going to come. Which side are you going to stand on?
KW: Not on the side of the false prophet.
JW: So are you going to stand on the side of those who say they are saved when they really are not saved?
KW: I really need help with this. Can we look at Deuteronomy 18?
I read from the New American Standard and stopped in strategic places to explain some of what I was reading.
KW: “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth.” God’s words. Are God’s words inspired?
KW: So if He places His words into someone else’s mouth, is the message still inspired?
KW: So the prophet speaks God’s inspired word. (picking up where I left off) “And he shall speak to them all that I command him.” The prophet is going to preach everything that he received from God and it is God’s Word, not his own words.
KW: (Reading again) “It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.” God is saying that you have to obey this prophet because it is the same as if God spoke it to you personally. The prophet is giving God’s inspired Word.
KW: Verse 20. “But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.” Now we have a distinction between true prophets who are going to speak God’s inspired Word and false prophets who are going to do it presumptuously when God didn’t tell them to say anything. That prophet is under a divine death sentence.
KW: Verse 21. “You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’” We have two prophets here. Both of them claim to give me a message from God. One of them is inspired, the other one is not. One is under a divine death sentence, the other is not. How do I know which prophet to follow?
KW: Verse 22. This is the answer. “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”
KW: We’ve got two prophets. One of them is true, the other one is false. They both give prophecies. How do I know which one is true? The one who is speaking God’s inspired Word, his prophecy comes true. The one who made it up, his prophecies are false and he is under a divine death sentence. So using this definition of a false prophet, how could I say that the Watchtower is not a false prophet?
My Witness friend managed to distract me by asking who the true prophet is when that isn’t the point. I was just defining a false prophet. I explained that I do not follow a particular Church. For me it isn’t about which Church I belong to, but about to Whom I belong. I could be satisfied in any number of denominations, but none of them are claiming to be God’s sole channel of communication. I wanted to get back on topic.
KW: The point is, how can I use this test if I can’t apply it to the Watchtower? Anyone can say, “I received new light.”
JW: You just compare it to what the Bible says.
This part of the conversation was circular reasoning… again. It goes like this.
JW Claim: You can’t understand the Bible without the Watchtower.
Christian Question: How can I know if what the Watchtower teaches is true?
JW Claim: You compare it to the Bible.
Christian Question: But how can I do that if I can’t understand the Bible without the Watchtower?
If a Jehovah’s Witness commits to the first claim, then it is impossible to know whether or not you have been deceived by the very source which makes the claim. In technical terms, you are a sitting duck waiting for a spiritual storm of deception. You have no way of evaluating and testing the Watchtower. My Witness friend decided to take a different approach.
JW: They aren’t claiming to be a prophet in the first place.
KW: The Watchtower?
KW: They claim to speak in God’s name.
JW: But they are not prophesying.
KW: How can you claim to speak in God’s name and not be a prophet? That is what a prophet does.
JW: In that case, then you would be a prophet too since you said you are a missionary.
KW: I have never predicted future events in God’s name.
JW: Aside from the 1975 thing, does that mean we need to stop keeping watch?
KW: No. It doesn’t mean that at all. But what you’ve done is you’ve subjected yourself to an organization which is guilty, according to what we just read here, of a false prediction… In God’s name.
JW: If you want to call it that, fine.
He was getting angry again and I was getting animated.
KW: How could you not call it that?
JW: Fine. The brothers admitted it was a mistake. So they corrected it, got over it and moved on.
KW: But how do I know the difference between new light and false prophecy? If the Watchtower is a false prophet, how would you ever know?
JW: What bothers you about the Watchtower?
I couldn’t believe he asked that. I wanted to launch into a full frontal assault of the NUMEROUS things wrong with the Watchtower, but decided to be short and sweet instead.
KW: False dates. In God’s name. My salvation depending upon whether or not I follow them.
He tried to back out of some of the claims again, but I got him back on topic by asking this question;
KW: As a Jehovah’s Witness, would I be required to believe what comes from the faithful slave?
KW: Then I would have had to believe these prophecies.
JW: You have to use your common sense. My father never believed the end would come in 1975. The Bible says no one knows.
KW: So what position would I be in if I am required to believe what the slave says, but I don’t because I believe the Bible? What would other Jehovah’s Witnesses think of me if I said, “I don’t believe in 1975 because Jesus said no one knows the time?”
JW: I don’t know. I wasn’t a Witness back then.
KW: Okay, say that I become a Witness and then the Watchtower points to a new date, 2015. I tell people that I don’t believe in 2015 because Jesus said no one knows the time. How would Jehovah’s Witnesses treat me?
JW: We are not predicting any about 2015.
He was avoiding my question.
KW: But if they did, how would they treat me. I flat out say, “I don’t believe in 2015 because of what the Bible says.”How would I be treated?
JW: I don’t know.
KW: (I gave him a look) Really? How would witnesses in your hall, treat another Witness who said of something in the literature, “I don’t believe it because of what the Bible says?” How would you treat that person?
We kept going back and forth. He kept avoiding the question, I kept rephrasing it and asking it again. We were both getting annoyed with each other. I had backed him into corner and wasn’t going to let him out until I got a straight answer. I knew I was risking losing him, but there was no way I was backing down. It took forever to get him to a place he needs to be all the while he was fighting me the whole way. He needed to answer this question, not for my sake, but for his own.
KW: How would someone be treated if they didn’t believe what the Watchtower said because they believe what the Bible said.
JW: You are talking about disfellowshippment.
KW: I am asking you, what would happen? Are you saying I’d be kicked out because I believe the Bible and not the Watchtower?
JW: It depends.
KW: REALLY!? That’s a possibility?
KW: I could be kicked out for not believing the Watchtower even though I believe the Bible? What is your authority?
JW: I don’t have any authority.
KW: No, I mean where do you place your trust? In what the Watchtower says or in what the Bible says?
JW: We believe the publishers of the Watchtower are the Faithful and Discreet Slave.
KW: I could be kicked out of the organization for not believing them because I believe my Bible.
JW: Many of the people who left after 1975, they’re back. They are Jehovah’s Witnesses again.
KW: That’s sad.
JW: No, it is good.
KW: They go back to an admitted false prophet and reject what the Bible says? They got kicked out in the first place for believing what the Bible says about no one knowing the time and did not believe this 1975 date. Why would somebody go back?
JW: Because they have no one else to go to. Just like the disciples told Jesus, you are the only one who has the words of everlasting life when others turned away from him.
He was referring to John 6:66-68 which refers to Jesus, not an organization.
KW: You are equating the Watchtower with Jesus.
He gave me a blank stare and did not deny my statement.
KW: The disciples wanted to know to Whom else they should go, and you are applying that to the Watchtower.
KW: You are saying, “You need to go to the Watchtower” when I am saying, “You need to go to Jesus.”
KW: Do you see a difference between going to the Watchtower and going to Jesus?
JW: All I am saying is that Jehovah’s Witnesses teach what the Bible has to say about the future. What is your point in all this? If that is your take on us, then why are we sitting here talking? The alternative, if I am wrong, would be to believe in the Trinity, believe that the soul goes to heaven? That is not what the Bible says.
KW: Can I point something out to you?
JW: Yes, what?
What I was going to say next was going to be very difficult for him to hear. I purposefully lowered my volume and slowed my speech. I wanted him as calm as possible before I asked the next question.
KW: Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the Watchtower really is a false prophet. They really are. They are guilty and they are under a divine death sentence. Just for the sake of argument. You are saying, “I can’t believe all these other things because of what a false prophet has taught me about them.
JW: No, you can just read the Bible and find out that God is not Jesus or vice-versa.
KW: All of the things you say you can’t believe, you got that information form a false prophet. So instead of believing what the false prophet said about these other people, maybe you ought to look at what the other people say.
JW: No, no, no. Jesus said, “The Father is greater than I.” Or when Paul said the husband is the head of the wife and Jesus is the head of the congregation and God is the head of Jesus, then I already know that Jesus is not God.
Here is where I made a huge mistake. Instead of getting back on topic, I took the bait to talk about the Deity of Christ. I already knew from experience that he gets angry when we talk about this subject. I should not have pursued this course, but I asked;
KW: Can you show me that verse?
He started looking for it, but could not find it. I either should have showed him where to verse is or attempted to get back on topic, but instead I waited. He kept looking so I finally mentioned that it was in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. He must have been looking for something else, because he didn’t go to the verse. I waited.
JW: What did Jesus mean when he said He was going away to “My God and your God?” Was He going to himself?
JW: Or when Paul spoke of, “The God of our Lord Jesus.” Or when Stephen was stoned and he saw Jesus at the right hand of God. There are several references to say that Jesus was resurrected by God.
KW: There are also references that say that Jesus resurrected Himself.
KW: Yes, there are.
JW: You know what? I’ve had enough. You can believe what you believe and I will believe what I believe, but I don’t see a point in us getting together anymore.
JW: Maybe the brother awhile back was right when he said I was wasting my time.
That hurt. My Witness friend was gathering his papers and books and placing them in his book bag. He was referring to a very rude Jehovah’s Witness he brought with him back in April. The week after that incident, he actually apologized for the other Witnesses’ behavior and comments about me being a waste of time. He knew that the other Witness had crossed the line, so for him to repeat that statement was vindictive and mean. We sat there staring at each other. He was extremely angry and I was shocked. I knew I couldn’t address the inappropriateness of his insult directly so I had to think of something else.
I will explain how I managed to get him to calm down and continue talking in the next post. My Jehovah’s Witness elder friend is at a major cross-road right now. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.