I saw my friend’s ugly side and I didn’t like it. He sat in his seat holding his book bag across his chest like a school girl who was afraid to walk down a hallway full of players from the high school football team.
KW: Which brother?
JW: You remember the one.
KW: The rude guy? Do you really think you are wasting your time?
JW: I thought I wasn’t.
KW: So, do you really think you are wasting your time?
He saw that what he said had hurt me. I wanted him to repeat it so that he could hear himself being just as rude as the other Witness was. He began to backtrack.
JW: Yeah… I’m pretty close to thinking that.
Again, I lowered my volume and slowed my speech. There needed to be some serious calm inserted into this situation. He was ready to bolt and had never insulted me before. I knew that I had to take it if I was going to be successful in getting him to calm down and agree to meet again.
KW: Hmmm. So, you tell me about 1975, I start asking questions and once we started digging, we found other things and that concerns me. I thought you were trying to help me understand from your perspective, and I’ve never received an answer to the question. How can someone claim to speak in God’s name, give predictions that don’t come true and not be a false prophet?
JW: We are speaking about the Bible.
KW: The Bible didn’t say anything about 1975.
JW: How long ago was 1975?
KW: It doesn’t matter.
My Witness friend then began talking about things that only the Watchtower does in contrast with the things of “unfaithful” Christendom. He began to calm down as his countenance changed. He was genuinely curious about something so he shifted gears and asked a completely unrelated question.
JW: What is your take on “saving” anyways? At what point are you saved?
KW: When you place your faith in Jesus Christ.
JW: For example, the Christians in the first century, they placed their faith in Jesus Christ. If you look at the book of Revelation when He spoke to the seven congregations, they had already placed their faith in Jesus Christ, but what would happen to them if they continued in the way they were going?
KW: they would be punished, but that doesn’t mean they would lose their salvation.
JW: He said He would spit them out of His mouth because they were Luke-warm. So you are telling people to place their faith in Jesus and they are saved.
JW: That is not enough.
KW: Jesus isn’t enough?
JW: No. We need to listen to His commandments and not just place faith in Him. Anyone can say they believe in Jesus and they have faith in Him, but not act in accordance to their faith.
He was falling back into his old habit so I needed to remind him of something.
KW: What you are doing now is trying to refute me without trying to understand me. It is really easy to do that, but you are not understanding what I am saying.
JW: What do you mean?
KW: You can’t refute me unless you understand my view.
JW: I understand your view.
KW: No, you don’t.
JW: One of the things Jesus said was that you need to be humble and that is what the brothers do. They stick to God’s organization even though 1975 happened. It doesn’t mean that Jehovah’s day is not coming. We have to have a waiting attitude even though we don’t know when it is coming. The day is coming like a thief ion the night. We need to keep on doing God’s will.
KW: I believe all of that. What I still don’t understand and what I don’t think you’ve tried to do is place yourself in my shoes.
KW: You need to look at this from the perspective of, “I don’t want to be deceived by a false prophet.” I don’t want to have any part of that. I have belonged to a false religion before. I don’t want to be involved in that. I am extra careful. Whenever people teach me things, I always make sure to see if what I am hearing lines up with what the Bible says.
JW: And the Trinity lines up with the Bible?
KW: I’m not even going to go there right now.
KW: If something doesn’t line up, then either I do not understand what they are saying or what they are saying is wrong. At that point we need more information. Obviously you want me to become a Jehovah’s Witness or we wouldn’t even be meeting. I can tell you this honestly. If the Watchtower really is God’s prophet and they really are doing God’s will, then I would be the best Jehovah’s Witness you ever saw.
JW: I believe that. I believe that.
KW: Thank you. But I’ve got to be convinced. Paul had an experience on the road to Damascus. Jesus appears to him and blinds him. That would be me. But I have to be assured that what I would be getting involved in is not a false prophet because I will not follow a false prophet. I will not even follow my own pastor if I think he is wrong on an issue and he knows that about me.
There is no way on God’s green earth that I am going to join an organization that even smells like a false prophet. What I want to know is, how can someone say things in God’s name, give predictions that don’t come true and not be a false prophet? There are plenty of other organizations in the world that do that. “God told me to tell you this,” and then it doesn’t happen. “Oh, you just misunderstood me.” They can’t blame that on me for believing what they said. I want to know. If these really are God’s people that I am supposed to subject myself to and follow…
JW: (Interrupting) No, not follow. You subject yourself to God.
KW: You just told me 15 minutes ago that there were people who were kicked out of the organization because they didn’t believe what the Watchtower said and they believed what the Bible said instead.
JW: Look, I said I wasn’t around in 1975.
KW: Right, but if that were to happen today, if I were to become a Jehovah’s Witness and they started pointing to a different date, I would say that I didn’t believe that date because the Bible says no one knows the time.
JW: But they are not doing that today.
KW: But they did at one point. We know that. If it happened again in the future, I’d be kicked out because I don’t believe the Watchtower.
JW: You need to use your common sense, which is to put kingdom interests first, live a simple life, do God’s will and keep in mind that God’s date could come at any time.
KW: I do that. My wife and I teach that to our children, but I wouldn’t believe a specific date. If they started to teach a date, I would publicly say, “No,” because Jesus said no one would know the time. If I got kicked out of an organization because of that, so be it. I would be the one who was still faithful to Jesus because I would be following Him.
JW: Like I already said, we are not the judge. God is the judge in the end.
KW: Then why would someone get kicked out if they don’t believe what the Watchtower said?
JW: Because there is supposed to be unity among God’s servants.
KW: Even if it is wrong?
JW: What do you mean “wrong?”
KW: 1975 was wrong.
JW: In that case, most of the Jehovah’s Witnesses would have left and the whole thing would have disintegrated, but it didn’t happen.
KW: They were more loyal to an organization than they were to God.
JW: No, no, no. I wish my father was here and he was an elder. I wish he were here today to give us his take on that.
KW: I would love to hear it. I still want to know why the Watchtower isn’t a false prophet. God gave us Deuteronomy 18 for a reason. If I can measure a false prophet by Deuteronomy 18, then why is it that the Watchtower is somehow exempt from that test?
JW: You think that you can serve God on your own without being a part of an organization. Why would it say in Hebrews 10:25 not to give up gathering together? The Bible also says we are to spread the good news to the whole earth. Who else does that except Jehovah’s Witnesses?
KW: Mormons make the same claim.
JW: Oh, yeah. For two years then that’s it.
KW: They have thousands of missionaries who do this, but it doesn’t mean they don’t preach anymore once their mission is over. I have Mormon friends. They continue to preach. Remember that couple who came to my door talking about “Mother-God?” They go door to door. Just because someone goes door to door doesn’t mean they are the true religion.
My Witness friend started talking about all of the lands where Witnesses are active and explained that there needs to be an organization to accomplish the work.
KW: I don’t mind Christians being organized. I just don’t want my instructions dictated to me by someone inserting themselves in the place of Christ.
JW: If that is what you believe, fine.
KW: I am looking for an answer to “why?”
JW: Why what?
KW: Why is it that the Watchtower can get away with it when Deuteronomy 18 says they can’t? Either there is something I am missing, or there is something you are missing. One of us is not getting the point of Deuteronomy 18 so if the Watchtower is a false prophet, how would you know?
JW: Everything the Watchtower says makes sense to me when you compare it to the Bible. Even that thing about education.
My Witness friend went on another rant against higher education. I listened for a bit and then got right back on topic.
KW: Why would you want to follow a prophet under a divine death sentence?
I know. Subtle, huh?
KW: I am assuming they are a false prophet because I have no reason to believe otherwise. I’ve seen what they said about 1975, I read that whole page from that JWfacts.com web site. (I wanted to make sure to get that reference in again.) Some of the papers you have given me today I had already read because they had it posted there, which tells me that they at least got the references correct. The context was just the same as what I am reading here. So it is clear to me that the Watchtower did predict the end of the world for 1975, yet it didn’t happen. So how is it that they are not a false prophet? That is what I want to know.
My Witness friend then quoted Mark 13:35 which in the NWT read, “Keep on the watch, therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether late in the day or at midnight or at dawn or early in the morning, 36 in order that when he comes suddenly, he does not find you sleeping. 37 But what I say to you, I say to all: Keep on the watch.” He then said;
JW: If someone sets an expectation for midnight, but then midnight passes and the thief does not come, now what?
KW: Thirty-eight years is a long night.
JW: That is nothing compared to God’s time-table.
KW: He didn’t tell us He was measuring it on His table. The Watchtower said I wasn’t going to grow old.
My Witness friend ignored my last statement and continued on with the idea of God having a different time table. He went to 2 Peter 3:3-4 which speaks of people ridiculing believers because Jesus has not returned yet. He skipped down to verses 9-10 which explains God’s patience in waiting for people to repent.
KW: I agree with this, but there isn’t anything here saying, “Don’t go to college because you will not grow old.”
My Witness friend then shared a personal view of his that I thought was interesting. He said he would be okay with someone getting an associate’s degree, but not a bachelor’s degree because that would be a waste of time. I attempted to insert some humor into the tense situation by asking if someone could get two associates to which he replied, “There are no rules.” I pointed out that two, two year degrees is equal to one four year degree. He grinned and chuckled a bit, but was still trying to be serious. I laughed and told him that it made sense and he knew it. He smiled, but just kept trudging on into his anti-education rant. He even mentioned that some Witnesses have not married or had children because they wanted to dedicate their time to preaching.
KW: I don’t have a problem with any of that until the idea is injected that the reason they make those choices is because they were told the end was going to come and that they wouldn’t grow old.
JW: Where did it say that?
KW: It was on that web site. I could give you the reference.
Rather than ask if he wanted the reference, I quickly opened my iPad browser and click on the tab to the web site that I already had open. While I was looking for the quote, my friend admitted that he never thought that he would reach the age of retirement even though he has a retirement plan. It didn’t take long to find the reference.
KW: It says, “If you are a young person, you also need to face the fact that you will never grow old in this present system of things. Why not? Because all the evidence in fulfillment of Bible prophecy indicates that this corrupt system is due to end in a few years.” This is from Awake! 1969, May 22 p.15.
I don’t remember if he wrote down the reference or not, but I do remember asking him if he wanted to see the quote.
JW: (Incredulously) I don’t have to see it! I have talked to some older people in their 80’s. They hope that the system ends sooner than later, but they are loyal and are sticking to it.
KW: If I were to read this in 1969, am I supposed to take this as a message from God?
I’ve noticed that he answers with an “um-hmm” when he doesn’t like the way an answer sounds, but then he doesn’t want to lie to me either.
KW: So, from my view then, God is telling me I will never grow old.
JW: You have to look at the bigger picture. The fact is, we don’t know the time, but we are to maintain a waiting attitude.
KW: But I was told something that I am supposed to accept as God’s message, that I would never grow old. So how is it that the Watchtower can get away with saying things in God’s name like that?
JW: As far as I am concerned, the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been greatly blessed. There are things we have accomplished that would be impossible it we didn’t have God’s blessings. We don’t ask for money or require a tithe. It is just voluntary contributions. The work we do is still thriving. More and more people are becoming Jehovah’s Witnesses. I wonder why that is?
KW: None of that is proof of anything. How many millions of Muslims are in the world?
JW: Numbers don’t mean anything.
JW: Jesus said there would be few who find the path to everlasting life. We have to stay on that path and not just say we believe in Jesus and that’s it. If you don’t continue the race, there is no salvation.
KW: I get the impression that when you, “believe in Jesus and that’s it,” that you think I am not doing anything with my faith.
JW: No, that is why I want to know where your boundaries are. You have said in the past that there are certain things you do because you are a Christian. But then on the other hand, where does it end?
KW: What do you mean?
JW: When I have mentioned things like Halloween, Christmas or birthdays. Jude said that the worship that is pleasing to God is undefiled from this world. Those holidays are filled with pagan traditions. That makes me wonder, how is your worship undefiled?
KW: Because I don’t wear pagan ties.
He couldn’t help but grin. If you are new to this blog and wonder what I am getting at, my Witness friend and I talked in the past about how the Watchtower forbids the celebrating of birthdays because of some pagan influences. I countered the argument by explaining that the origin of modern day neckties is connected with French military uniforms. The Watchtower is equally against the military so if having a birthday party is forbidden because of pagan origins, then ties should be forbidden too because of their military origins. I love using that example because there is no way to argue against it and he knows it. The best he can do is grin and wish he had the courage to take off his tie.
This is about as good a place as any to end this blogpost. From here we spent a great deal of time talking about issues related to matters of conscience. I will continue that topic in the next post.
Please continue to pray for my Jehovah’s Witness elder friend.