Sunday, January 20, 2008

"What Does the Bible Really Teach?" pp.7-14

Last Monday I commenced a home study with the JW elder named Charlie, who I mentioned in my introductory post. About a month ago I had invited Charlie to take

[Left: "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, 2005]

me through the JWs home study for prospective new members but I thought he had refused.

In the meantime my Christian mother-in-law had given me a copy of "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" which a JW at her door had given her. I assumed this must be the very book that JWs use in their home studied for prospective new members.

So when Charlie returned earlier this month and said he would start meeting with me every Monday, I prepared for a discussion with him about one of the Appendices, "Who Is Michael the Archangel?" at pages 218-219 of the book.

However, Charlie wanted to work though the book from the beginning, and I agreed. But we only got as far as the first page of chapter 1, "What Is the Truth About God?" That is, when we got to:

"Children are not the only ones who ask questions. As we grow up, we keep asking. We do this in order to find our way, to learn of dangers that we need to avoid, or to satisfy our curiosity. But many people seem to stop asking questions, especially the most important ones. At least, they stop searching for the answers. ... Why is it often good to ask questions? ... Why do many stop trying to find answers to the questions that matter most?" (Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, 2005, p.8).

I asked Charlie whether the Watchtower really encouraged asking questions about the Watchtower and its doctrines? I am not going to give Charlie's answers, to preserve his confidentiality, so all I will give here are my questions (in bold with the page number first).

I am posting these here so that they may be of help to either: a) other Christians ministering to JWs; b) prospective new JWs studying this book; or c) JWs who are having doubts about Watchtower doctrines. There are other online critiques of this book, which I have not relied upon and don't necessarily endorse, including: Catholic Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jehovah's-Witness discussion forum.

For our next meeting this coming Monday, I am going to ask Charlie the following questions (which at first will backtrack slightly):

P7a. Are we going to be "learning what the Bible really teaches" or just what the Watchtower organization says the Bible teaches?

"The fact that you are reading this book shows that you would like to find out what the Bible teaches. This book will help you. Notice that the paragraphs have corresponding questions at the bottom of the page. Millions have enjoyed using the question-and-answer method when discussing the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses. We hope you will too. May you have God's blessing as you now enjoy the thrilling and satisfying experience of learning what the Bible really teaches!" (Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, 2005, p.7).

If someone with no previous Bible knowledge was shipwrecked on a desert island with just the Bible, would they just by reading the Bible discover JW's distinctive teachings?

P7b. Does the Watchtower organization really encourage its members to undertake a program of daily Bible reading" such that they "read the entire Bible in a year"?

"GET TO KNOW YOUR BIBLE ... You will quickly become familiar with the Bible by looking up the scriptures cited in this publication. Also, why not start a program of daily Bible reading? By reading three to five chapters a day, you can read the entire Bible in a year." (WB&TS, 2005, p.7. Emphasis original).

Why did The Watchtower of August 15, 1981, attack those JW's who "read the Bible exclusively, either alone or in small groups at home"?:

"From time to time, there have arisen from among the ranks of Jehovah's people those who ... say that it is sufficient to read the Bible exclusively, either alone or in small groups at home. But, strangely, through such `Bible reading,' they have reverted right back to the apostate doctrines that commentaries by Christendom's clergy were teaching 100 years ago ...." (The Watchtower, August 15, 1981, pp.28-29).

If by reading "the Bible exclusively" one would arrive at the "doctrines that ... Christendom's clergy were teaching" does not this show that JW doctrines are not based on "the Bible exclusively" but Christianity's doctrines are?

P8. Does the Watchtower organization really encourage its members to not "stop asking questions" about the Watchtower and its doctrines? (already asked-see above).

P12. Why does the Watchtower make so much of the name "Jehovah" when it does not appear in the original Hebrew and in fact was first used by a Roman Catholic monk in AD1270? (see `tagline': "Aid", p.884):

"If you want someone to get to know you, what might you do? Would you not tell the person your name? Does God have a name? Many religions answer that his name is `God' or `Lord,' but those are not personal names. They are titles, just as `king' and `president' are titles. The Bible teaches that God has many titles. `God' and `Lord' are among them. However, the Bible also teaches that God has a personal name: Jehovah. Psalm 83:18 says: `You, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.'" (WB&TS, 2005, pp.12-13. Emphasis original).

Also the name "Jehovah's Witnesses" was not used until it was invented by `Judge' Rutherford in 1931, i.e. 52 years after Charles Taze Russell founded the Watchtower Society in 1879. (see `tagline': "JWs Proclaimers").

P 13. Is it not misleading to claim that "God's name" (YHWH) "appears thousands of times in ancient Bible manuscripts" when that is only in Hebrew Old Testament manuscripts but not once is YHWH transliterated into Greek in any New Testament manuscript? (see `taglines': "Aid", p.886; Rhodes; Martin):

"The truth is that God's name appears thousands of times in ancient Bible manuscripts. So Jehovah wants you to know his name and to use it. In a sense, he is using the Bible to introduce himself to you." (WB&TS, 2005, pp.13-14. Emphasis original).

P14. If "Jehovah wants" us "to know his name and to use it" why does the New Testament emphasise knowing and using Jesus' name? (see `also tagline': Reed):

Name of Jesus: God's command is to have faith in (1Jn 3:23); believers have life in (Jn 20:31); apostles called on Jews (who already believed in Jehovah) to repent and be baptized in (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48); apostles spoke and taught in (Acts 4:18; 5:40); evangelists preached in (Acts 8:12; 9:27); Christians justified in (1Cor 6:11); Christians sanctified in (1Cor 6:11); apostles healed sick in (Acts 3:6,16; 4:10), performed miraculous signs and wonders through (Acts 4:30), demons cast out by (Acts 16:18); opposition to (Acts 26:9); Christians risked their lives for (Acts 15:26; 19:13); died for (Acts 21:13); churches assembled in (1Cor 5:4); Christians to call upon (1Cor 1:2); thanks to be given in (Eph 5:20); every knee should bow at (Php 2:10); everything to be done in (Col 3:17); to be glorified (2Th 1:12); Christians appealed to in (1Cor 1:10), Christians commanded in (2Th3:6).

We probably won't get as far as this, and this post is getting too long, so this will be continued in a future post: "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" pp.15-17.

Stephen E. Jones.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & TheShroudofTurin


The pronunciations `Jehovah' and `Yahweh' By combining the vowel signs of 'Adhonay' and 'Elohim' with the four consonants of the Tetragrammaton the pronunciations Yehowah' and Yehowih' were formed. The first of these provided the basis for the Latinized form `Jehova(h);' The first recorded use of this form dates from the thirteenth century. C.E. Raymundus Martini, a Spanish monk of the Dominican Order, used it in his book Pugeo Fidei of the year 1270." (Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, "Aid to Bible Understanding," [1969], Watchtower Bible & Tract Society: Brooklyn NY, Second edition, 1971, p.884. Emphasis original).

"A milestone, though, was reached at a convention held in Columbus, Ohio, in 1931. On Sunday, July 26, at noon, Brother Rutherford delivered the public discourse `The Kingdom, the Hope of the World,' which was broadcast over a vast radio hookup, with more than 300 additional stations later rebroadcasting the message. At the end of the discourse, Brother Rutherford served notice on Christendom by reading a stinging resolution entitled `Warning From Jehovah,' which was addressed `To the Rulers and to the People.' To his invitation that they adopt the resolution, the entire visible audience stood and shouted, `Aye!' Telegrams later received indicated that many of those listening on the radio likewise raised their voices in agreement. From one o'clock, when the public discourse was finished, until four o'clock, when Brother Rutherford reentered the auditorium, the atmosphere was charged with excitement. Brother Rutherford had specially requested that everyone who was really interested in the noonday warning to Christendom be in his seat at four o'clock. Promptly at four, Brother Rutherford began by stating that he regarded what he was about to say as of vital importance to everyone who could hear his voice. His listeners were keenly interested. During his discourse he presented another resolution, this one entitled `A New Name,' which was climaxed by the declaration: `We desire to be known as and called by the name, to wit, Jehovah's witnesses. `The thrilled convent' again jumped to their feet with the ringing shout `Aye!' They would henceforth be known as Jehovah's Witnesses!" (Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, "Jehovah's Witnesses, Proclaimers of God's Kingdom," Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn NY, 1993, pp.79,82. Emphasis original).

"In view of this evidence, it seems most unusual to find that the extant manuscript copies of the original text of the Christian Greek Scriptures do not contain the divine name in its full form. The name therefore is also absent from most translations of the so-called `New Testament.'" ("Aid to Bible Understanding," 1971, p.886).

"Jehovah's Witnesses are told through Watchtower publications that God's true name is Jehovah. They are taught that superstitious Jewish scribes long ago removed this sacred name from the Bible. But there is no need to worry, the Watchtower Society says! The Society's New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures has `faithfully' restored the divine name in the Old Testament where the Hebrew consonants YHWH appear. [Bodine, M., "Bible Answer Man," Christian Research Newsletter, May/June 1992, p.3] Moreover, the name `Jehovah' has been inserted in the New Testament by the Watchtower New World Bible Translation Committee in verses where the text is believed to refer to the Father. [Ibid] They have taken the liberty to do this despite the fact that it blatantly goes against the thousands of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament that we have-some of which date from the second century. (The New Testament always uses the words `Lord' [Greek: kurios] and `God' [Greek: theos], never `Jehovah'- even in quotations from the Old Testament. [Bowman, R.M., "Understanding Jehovah's Witnesses," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1991, p.114])" (Rhodes, R., 1993, "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, Reprinted, 2006, p.49. Emphasis original).

"The first major error we shall discuss is that Jehovah's Witnesses have restored the divine name `Jehovah' to the text of the New Testament. But let us observe this pretext as they stated it in their own words. `The evidence is, therefore, that the original text of the Christian Greek Scriptures has been tampered with, the same as the text of the LXX [The Septuagint ... a Greek translation of the Old Testament] has been. And, at least from the third century A.D. onward, the divine name in tetragrammaton [The Hebrew consonants YHWH] form has been eliminated from the text by copyists.... In place of it they substituted the words kyrios (usually translated `the Lord') and theos, meaning `God' ` (NWT, 1950, p.18). The `evidence' that the Witnesses refer to is a recently discovered papyrus roll of the LXX which contains the second half of the book of Deuteronomy and which does have the tetragrammaton throughout. Further than this, the Witnesses refer to Aquila (A.D. 128) and Origen who both utilized the tetragrammaton in their respective Version and Hexapla. Jerome in the fourth century also mentioned the tetragrammaton as appearing in certain Greek volumes even in his day. On the basis of this small collection of fragmentary evidence, Jehovah's Witnesses conclude their argument: `It proves that the original LXX did contain the divine name wherever it occurred in the Hebrew original. Considering it a sacrilege to use some substitute such as kyrios or theos, the scribes inserted the tetragrammaton at its proper place in the Greek version text' (NWT, p. 12). The whole case the Witnesses try to prove is that the original LXX and the New Testament autographs all used the tetragrammaton (NWT, 1950, p. 18) but owing to `tampering,' all these were changed; hence their responsibility to restore the divine name. Such is the argument, and a seemingly plausible one, to those not familiar with the history of manuscripts and the Witnesses' subtle use of terms." (Martin, W.R. & Klann, N., 1953, "Jehovah of the Watchtower," Bethany House Publishers: Bloomington MN, Reprinted, 1981, pp.131-132. Emphasis original).

"To explain this error of translation is an elementary task. It can be shown from literally thousands of copies of the Greek New Testament that not once does the tetragrammaton appear, not even in Matthew, possibly written in Hebrew or Aramaic originally, and therefore more prone than all the rest to have traces of the divine name in it-yet it does not! Beyond this, the roll of papyrus (LXX), which contains the latter part of Deuteronomy and the divine name only proves that one copy did have the divine name (YHWH) , whereas all other existing copies use kyrios and theos, which the Witnesses claim are `substitutes.' The testimonies of Aquila, Origen, and Jerome, in turn, only show that sometimes the divine name was used, but the general truth, upheld by all scholars, is that the Septuagint, with minor exceptions, always uses kyrios and theos in place of the tetragrammaton, and the New Testament never uses it at all. Relative to the nineteen `sources' the Watchtower uses (NWT, pp. 30-33) for restoring the tetragrammaton to the New Testament, it should be noted that they are all translations from Greek (which uses kyrios and theos, not the tetragrammaton) back into Hebrew, the earliest of which is A.D. 1385, and therefore they are of no value as evidence." (Martin & Klann, 1953, p.132. Emphasis original).

"Jehovah's Witnesses misuse the name Jehovah ... They teach that it `is wrong to fail to use that name.' (You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, page 44) For them it is one of the identifying marks of the true religion, so that any church or denomination that does not feature the name continually in its worship services and in its literature is automatically part of Satan's empire of false religion. The most obvious refutation for this is that such a standard would condemn Peter, Paul, John, and the other New Testament writers and the first century churches associated with them. There is no evidence that the apostles or the early Christians-particularly the Greek-speaking converts who quickly made up the majority of the early Church-attached any such special significance to the use of this name. Rather, congregations of believers were `assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus.' (1 Corinthians 5:4 NIV) In seasons of persecution Christians were `insulted because of the name of Christ.' (1 Peter 4:14) The apostles taught `in the name of Jesus' and proclaimed that `there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.' (Acts 4:12, 18 NIV)" (Reed, D.A., 1996, "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, Second printing, 1998, pp.143-144. Emphasis original)

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello Stephen,

I always enjoy meeting people that are interested in Bible truth. I am myself one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and I see that while you have many problems with our beliefs, you at least have the interest to investigate and discuss these differences, which is not all that common. :)

I was especially interested in the title of your blog, "Jesus is Jehovah". After much study and meditation over God's word, I sincerely believe that Jesus is not Jehovah, but that he is Jehovah God's Son. So if you'd be so kind and patient with me, I'd like to explore one of your proofs from the diagram located in your first post to this blog.

As a proof meant to support the conclusion that "Jesus is Yahweh", scriptures are provided in which Jesus is referred to with the title "Savior" and these are matched with scriptures in which Yahweh/Jehovah is referred to as "Savior".

My question is, does the fact that both Jesus and Jehovah are each called "Savior" necessitate the conclusion that Jesus is Jehovah? Could one not, on this evidence, come to the valid conclusion that both Jesus and Jehovah are Saviors? I.e. Jesus is a Savior, Jehovah is a Savior, but Jesus is not Jehovah?

Many thanks,
TJ

Stephen E. Jones said...

TJ

Thanks for your comment, the first to my Jesus is Jehovah blog.

I had decided to respond in a separate post, rather than down here in comments, but it has taken me longer than I thought.

However, it should be posted by the end of today.

Stephen E. Jones

TJ said...

Thanks Stephen, I look forward to your post.

TJ

Danny Haszard said...

Jehovah's Witnesses have largest turnover of recruits,have one of the highest attrition rates of all denominations.

Reports from TIME Magazine-""An even more extreme example of what might be called "masked churn" is the relatively tiny Jehovah's Witnesses, with a turnover rate of about two-thirds.

That means that two-thirds of the people who told Pew they were raised Jehovah's Witnesses no longer are — yet the group attracts roughly the same number of converts. Notes Lugo, "No wonder they have to keep on knocking on doors

Half of all the Watchtower related news now on Jehovah's Witnesses is either obituaries or Kingdom Hall construction.

The old folks who gave everything to the WBTS are dying off left and right cause no new system ever came
The Watchtower keeps on wheeling & dealing big money real estate
80% of all the young people are leaving the JW's
--
Danny Haszard born 3rd generation Jehovah's Witness,'I was in the cult and now i'm out'...

Stephen E. Jones said...

Danny

Thanks for your comment.

>Jehovah's Witnesses have largest turnover of recruits,have one of the highest attrition rates of all denominations.

Yes, on one of the late ex-JW Bill Cetnar's lectures available on the Internet, he pointed out there are more ex-JW's than there are JWs!

>Reports from TIME Magazine-""An even more extreme example of what might be called "masked churn" is the relatively tiny Jehovah's Witnesses, with a turnover rate of about two-thirds.

Thanks. I had not heard of that article, (Van Biema, D., "America's Unfaithful Faithful," TIME, February 25, 2008.

>That means that two-thirds of the people who told Pew they were raised Jehovah's Witnesses no longer are — yet the group attracts roughly the same number of converts. Notes Lugo, "No wonder they have to keep on knocking on doors

The problem then is `been there done that,' i.e. there is an ever-diminishing pool of those who would ever become JWs. And those who were JWs would warn others not to join.

I would not be surprised to see a a catastrophic decline of JWs in the next decade, what with JW's learning on the Internet about the Watchtower's false prophecies, etc.

>Half of all the Watchtower related news now on Jehovah's Witnesses is either obituaries or Kingdom Hall construction.

Interesting. But if their numbers are going down, there will be no one to fill the KHs. A JW elder I am meeting with told me they are thinking of giving up knocking on doors because there are fewer to do it and less and less people are at home most days.

>The old folks who gave everything to the WBTS are dying off left and right cause no new system ever came

I gather the WT lost a lot of members after their last failed prophecy in 1975, and with the abandonment of the 1914 generation prophecy in 1995, they have lost their main avenue of recruiting new members.

>The Watchtower keeps on wheeling & dealing big money real estate

I read recently the WT sold some property in Brooklyn or NYC. I assume that is because the WT is suffering financially because of their attempt to evade tax on book sales by their bogus `donations' system has led to a drastic loss of revenue. Some countries, e.g. France, are suing the WT for back taxes because it is fundamentally a publishing corporation.

It has also been hit hard by litigation over sex abuse and disfellowshipping.

>80% of all the young people are leaving the JW's

Wow! I have heard that they lose a lot of their young people, because of the usual teenage rebellion, and their harsh reaction to it, disfellowshipping and shunning them. But I did not realise it was that high.

>Danny Haszard born 3rd generation Jehovah's Witness,'I was in the cult and now i'm out'...

Congratulations! I have now read your story at "The Story of Danny Haszard."

Stephen E. Jones

Lauren said...

Hello Stephen. As always I appreciate all your hard work and your blogs give me hope that the truth is being told to the JWs. Recently My husband and I were studying with an elderly couple. The wife could speak English decently but the husband spoke English about like I speak Japanese...hardly none. :)We became fast friends and met every week. Truthfully she was the one who awakened my love for deeper harder study. When she came to my door she asked me what I believed about the dead so I answered the typical: If you are saved and believe in Jesus you go to heaven, if not then hell.
I had been a Christian for a couple of years but her Eccl 9:5 took my breath away. Plainly the Bible said, "the dead know nothing." Thankfully the Spirit saved me. I didn't know why she was wrong but I knew she was.
After a couple of weeks we began meeting, as i said, every week for the last few months. They always took things we gave them and considered what we said, but the last things was a page saying Jesus is Jehovah from mostly what you have posted.(Thanks) Then they introduced us to another couple. An American with a Japanese wife. Both speak English. :) But our elderly "friends" just dropped us. Completely stopped meeting with us.
Anyways we are back to the "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" book with the new couple. Will you be doing any more with this book?
Thanks for your time in reading this.
Until we see each other in glory.
your sister.
Lauren

Stephen E. Jones said...

Lauren

>I had been a Christian for a couple of years but her Eccl 9:5 took my breath away. Plainly the Bible said, "the dead know nothing." Thankfully the Spirit saved me. I didn't know why she was wrong but I knew she was.

Thanks for your comment. I will answer it more fully in a separate post. But because I am now working full-time as a relief (substitute - USA, supply - UK) teacher, I am unable to do that right away.

In the meantime, here is a quote explaining why the Watchtower's use of Ecc 9:5 to support their view that all who die are annihilated, is ripping that verse out of its "under the Sun" (Ecc 1:3,9,14; 2:11,17-20,22; 3:16; 4:1,3,7,15; 5:13,18; 6:1,12; 8:9,15,17; 9:3,6,9,11) context, i.e. life as seen from the perspective of the secular unbeliever:

"Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward; but the memory of them is lost. (RSV) This verse is frequently used by Jehovah's Witnesses in arguing that death brings annihilation-total nonexistence. To support the point even more conclusively, the Watchtower version reads this way: `For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all ...' (NWT). Now, if this verse is simply pulled out of context and quoted as authoritative, it appears to prove the JW's right. But taking such a passage out of context can be very dangerous. ... Besides giving God's viewpoint on matters, the Bible also relates many things said and done by others, some good and some not so good. ... the inspired writer of Ecclesiastes is presenting a contrast of viewpoints: the secular, materialistic viewpoint versus the godly, spiritual one. The book reads like a running debate taking place in the mind of the writer. The godly viewpoint triumphs in the end, though, with the Ecclesiastes 12 admonition to `Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth... . Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man' (vv. 1, 13, KJV). But what of the parts that go before? The first ten verses of Ecclesiastes 9 appear to reflect the secular side of the struggle. Not only does the writer say in verse 5 that the dead know nothing, but he also adds that `they have no more for ever any share in all that is done under the sun' (v 6, RSV, italics added). (Ask the Jehovah's Witness if he believes that the dead are gone forever. He will answer no, because he believes in a future resurrection to this earth under the sun.) Verse 2 (RSV) expresses the thought that `one fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil,' an idea contradictory to all the rest of Scripture. (Ask the Witness if he believes that he will receive the same fate, whether he is righteous or wicked. His answer will have to be no.) We can conclude that verse 5 is located in the midst of a section expressing the faithless, secular viewpoint-not God's." (Reed, D.A., "Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1986, Thirty-first printing, 2006, pp.39-40. Emphasis original).

Stephen E. Jones

Michelle said...

Stephen,

I am so excited to find your blog. I invited two JW's in about two months ago. About every two weeks, the one woman (E) comes back -- always with someone new. At her last visit, she asked if she could come back at an appointed time (I was on my way out) and discuss some things about God's name and the Trinity. Yesterday was our appointment. She brought another woman and we talked for about 5 minutes, but as I asked some questions and brought up some other scriptures, they asked if they could bring the husband of the second woman in. We moved our meeting out to the porch and talked for an hour.

As we ended, they gave me a copy of "What Does The Bible Really Teach?" and E asked if I would go through it with her. I told them very clearly that my interest is in seeking Truth through God's word; that I would use my Bible to study the subjects in this book; that I have been an evangelical Christian for many years; that my husband is an elder in our church; etc. -- and that the more than probable outcome is that we would get through this study and I will still have the same beliefs. I said that I would pray for God to reveal His Truth to each of us and cling to His promise in Jeremiah that says "You will find me when you seek me if you seek me with all your heart." and asked them to do the same.

I have one or two people discouraging me from doing this for fear I will be influenced (?!?!) but most have offered to pray for us and one dear sister offered to do the study E and me. I feel like these dear JW people need to hear the True Gospel as much as anyone - Jesus died for each of them as much as for anyone else. And if we just slam doors i their faces or beat them down with sentiments about the WS, etc. - we're not showing the love for our neighbor that Jesus wants us to show.

I have Ron Rhodes' book and am looking for some other resources to use as I study my Bible through their points. The main problem I see from a scholarly standpoint is that they seem to have their own Greek and Hebrew texts (put out by the WS) and so it seems difficult to show the erroneous translation of many verses. I'm counting on the Holy Spirit and His intervention and counsel to penetrate the layers of deceit they have been fed.

Thank you again for your resource. I plan to reference it weekly as I go through this book with E.

Blessings,
Michelle

Stephen E. Jones said...

Michelle

Thanks for your comment.

>I invited two JW's in about two months ago. About every two weeks, the one woman (E) comes back -- always with someone new. ... she asked if she could come back ... and discuss some things about God's name and the Trinity.

You might ask them questions on those topics based on my "Questions for Jehovah's Witnesses A-Z"

>As we ended, they gave me a copy of "What Does The Bible Really Teach?" and E asked if I would go through it with her.

You might ask why it is not simply titled, "What Does the Bible Teach?" Is it because, as the Watchtower has warned, if JWs study the Bible "exclusively" they would come to believe Christianity's doctrines!

>I have one or two people discouraging me from doing this for fear I will be influenced ... and one dear sister offered to do the study E and me.

Their fears are not groundless. The JWs are highly trained to pick on what they perceive as problems in the Bible for Christianity. And unless a Christian knows his/her Bible, Christian theology and JW arguments well, the Christian might come off second best.

Also, you should not let them outnumber you 2 to 1. It is hard for even an experienced Christian to handle questions from 2 JWs. You should insist on there being another Christian with you if they insist on there being 2 JWs. Don't ask for their permission-just have another Christian (preferably a knowledgeable one) there. Without lying you could say he/she is interested too.

>I feel like these dear JW people need to hear the True Gospel as much as anyone ... And if we just slam doors i their faces ... we're not showing the love for our neighbor that Jesus wants us to show.

Agreed. But remember that JWs really believe that they have the truth and `Christendom' is corrupt. And every day there are media reports of paedophile priests, gay bishops, etc, that `confirm' their belief. Also a JW has a lot to lose if he/she becomes a Christian: shunning by JW family and friends, admitting that he/she has wasted much of their life, etc.

>I have Ron Rhodes' book and am looking for some other resources to use as I study my Bible through their points.

If you show you are too well-prepared, they will blacklist your house and not come again, as has happened to me.

>The main problem I see from a scholarly standpoint is that they seem to have their own Greek and Hebrew texts (put out by the WS)

They don't. They don't have any qualified Hebrew or Greek scholars and they use `corrupt' Christianity's Hebrew and Greek texts.

In fact JWs have stopped using their own Kingdom Interlinear Translation because it can be seen that the Greek contradicts Watchtower doctrine, e.g. Jn 1:1 KIT "and god was the Word" not "a god."

>and so it seems difficult to show the erroneous translation of many verses. I'm counting on the Holy Spirit and His intervention and counsel to penetrate the layers of deceit they have been fed.

>Thank you again for your resource. I plan to reference it weekly as I go through this book with E.

I never finished that series because the JW elder Charlie broke off his study with me. I raised so many problems with WTism that he was starting to ask "what if?" questions about becoming a Christian! I still pray for him daily.

If you have any questions arising from your book study with the JWs, I am happy to answer them. I have been thinking of posting a blog page of common questions JWs ask, e.g. "why is Jesus called the `firstborn' in Col 1:15?" etc.

Stephen

Stephen E. Jones said...

>... JWs have stopped using their own Kingdom Interlinear Translation because it can be seen that the Greek contradicts Watchtower doctrine, e.g. Jn 1:1 KIT "and god was the Word" not "a god."

Years ago I bought both the 1969 and 1985 KIT versions, but today they cost ~US$80. However today I downloaded the 1985 KIT as a PDF from this site:

Download or Purchase The Kingdom Interlinear Translation ... 1985 KIT – File size 209 MB: http://www.sendspace.com/file/iqzeiy and it looks good with clear text.

I chose the slow option because it was free and it only took a few minutes more.

A bonus is that the text is searchable, both the interlinear English and the NWT at the side. But there seem to be invisible spaces so that some (most?) phrase searches don't work.

In fact even copy and pasting a Greek word into the PDF search box finds occurrences of that word!

Stephen

Michelle said...

Stephen,

Thank you for your responses. A friend (my prayer/accountability partner) agreed to be with me today as we studied the first chapter of the Bible Teach book with my JW friends.

It went about how most of our other meetings have gone ... until the end when I said I'd like to close us in prayer. They wouldn't allow me to pray. I was quite taken back by that - not offended, but just not prepared for it. I have done a lot of research and I guess I hadn't uncovered this.

When I asked "why?" they at first were evasive and said that isn't how they do things. I pressed for the reasoning and basically they said they are instructed by the WS (their "organization" is what they kept calling it) not to pray with non-JWs. I said that I think that grieves God and asked if there was biblical support for such a view. They said it is because I pray to a different God (i.e., God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit).

When we began today, I said that we should begin in prayer (my friend and I had prayed together before they came), and I allowed one of the JW women to pray. Her prayer was fine - EXCEPT the part where she thanked Jehovah for giving them an organization that helps them to interpret and learn the Bible. During that part, but my friend and I were praying silently against it and that we were not in agreement with it.

Have you come up against this? Any words of wisdom as how to handle it? They knew I disagreed and kept saying it wasn't personal and asking me not to be offended. I explained that I really wasn't, but that I did not agree. And they asked me to respect their views. They asked me if I thought that Jesus would have prayed with the Pharisees or Saducees. I said that if they had true hearts that were seeking God, I believe He would have. They disagreed.

Thank you,
Michelle

Stephen E. Jones said...

Michelle

>A friend ... agreed to be with me today as we studied the first chapter of the Bible Teach book with my JW friends.

Great!

>...when I said I'd like to close us in prayer. They wouldn't allow me to pray ... I hadn't uncovered this.

The Watchtower (WT) keeps JW's in fear of being possessed by demons. And it tells them that they could catch a demon if they are present when Christians' pray to their `demonic three-headed god'.

>When I asked "why?" ... they said they are instructed by the WS (their "organization" is what they kept calling it) not to pray with non-JWs.

See above.

>I ... asked if there was biblical support for such a view. They said it is because I pray to a different God (i.e., God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit).

They are right that theirs is "a different God" from the Biblical triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

>... she thanked Jehovah for giving them an organization that helps them to interpret and learn the Bible.

The WT organization IS the JW's god, in that it is their ultimate authority.

>Have you come up against this?

Yes. Listen to ex-JW's testimonies online, e.g. at JWInfoLine or Tower to Truth and you will hear them consistently say that we need to first weaken JW's faith in the WT. But that is usually only when a JW has already started having doubts, that they can be open to hearing evidence against the WT.

>Any words of wisdom as how to handle it?

Don't expect them to pray with you. You will drive them away if you insist.

Remember that JWs are not simply a different Christian denomination. They are a cult which uses mind-control techniques to rob its members of the ability to resist the WT's teachings.

Ex-JWs say the best way to break through a JW's protective shell is to ask them questions which sow seeds of doubt in their minds. See my "Questions for Jehovah's Witnesses A-Z."

One that I have recently added is:

---------------------------------------
NAME
o Colossians 3:17 NWT says, "whatever it is that YOU do in word or in work, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus..." (my emphasis). Do Jehovah's Witnesses do EVERYTHING in the name of JESUS?

Col 3:17 NWT. "And whatever it is that YOU do in word or in work, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, thanking God the Father through him."
---------------------------------------

You might ask it something like this: I found a verse the other day which said: "whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..." (Col 3:17 NIV). I was wondering if it was the same in your Bible. Would you read it to me? Let the JW read Col 3:17 NWT.

Then ask them if their OWN Bible is saying that we must "do EVERYTHING in the name of the Lord JESUS"?

If they admit it does say that, ask them: Do Jehovah's Witnesses do "do EVERYTHING in the name of the Lord JESUS"?

They would have to say "no" if they answered at all. But JWs are trained to change the subject when they are stuck for an answer. If they try to do that, firmly but gently insist that you want an answer to your question first.

It is also important to let your question hang in the air, and not talk if they are silent, nor comfort them if they seem uncomfortable or even distressed.

They might say they will have to get back to you with an answer and if so, agree on a time for them to do so.

However, their elders may realise that the question is unanswerable for a JW and tell them to stop meeting with you.

Stephen E. Jones

Anonymous said...

Hello Stephen,

I am a young Jehovah Witness who by chance came across your site. Speaking strictly from a personal standpoint, the Kingdom Hall that I attend is growing tremendously. We have members that were raised JW and new members. I was raised Baptist, not JW. I am happy with my choice despite being the only person in my immediate family to become one. I have found a love for the Bible and the information contained in it.

When it comes to the scripture in Eccl. The scripture speaks of the "dead being conscious of nothing" not because they are completely destroyed but simply to say that unlike popular belief the dead's souls aren't floating around haunting people, watching over people, things like that. As Jehovah said to Adam in the garden of Eden "For dust you are and to dust you will return." Gen. 3:16.

I personally pray with the people that I study with at the opening and closing of the study. I pray because I am holding the study with that person and I pray that Jehovah gives both of us incite and knowledge. The point of the study is to learn and encourage studying the Bible.

I also encourage people to go through the book with their own Bible. I am not trying to trick someone to believe what I believe. I am a Christian first above all things.

As with TJ, I believe that Jesus is the son of God not that he is God. I do all things for the glory of God through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the means by which we all can be forgiven of our sins and have a relationship with Jehovah. So to answer your question-Yes I do everything in the name of Jesus Christ, "thanking God the Father through him." My god is not the WT but Jehovah God. The Bible tells you not to put man before God and I don't.

A cult is defined as a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader. It can also be defined as a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies. We, JW, live in society and do not have an earthly leader. We also do not have any rites or ceremonies. We do not do things for our own glory but for that of Jehovah God.

In closing, I would just like to say thank you for asking people to explore the Bible and find a deep love for it. I hope that all who read this has an open mind and heart. Jesus said "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves." John 13:35.

May you have a wonderful day,

Melissa

Stephen E. Jones said...

Melissa

>I am a young Jehovah Witness who by chance came across your site. ...

Thanks for your comment. But there are too many points in it for me to respond in another comment, so I will respond to it in a separate post.

Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones said...

Melissa

>Thanks for your comment ... I will respond to it in a separate post.

See my response starting with: Re: I am a young Jehovah Witness who by chance came across your site #1.

Stephen E. Jones

David said...

Danny Hazzard is one of those people who is not interested in worshiping Jehovah God, he is not interested in helping others to know the truth about Jehovah and his Son Jesus. If he has something better to offer than slandering other people, then why doesn't he go from door to door and teach others. I have 5 children of my own, never have I forced them to become one of Jehovah's Witnesses. As a Parent though, I did read the Bible to them, dailey as the BIBLE itself encourages all of us to do. In fact I encourage them to always ask questions and then use God's word to find the answer.
Jehovah's Witnesses even have a song that we sing, encouraging us to make the truth your own. In other words prove to yourself that you have the truth. I am sorry that Danny has so much anger that he feels he has to speak against those whom he once worshipped with. Everyone has a right to choose who he will worship. We worship the same God Jehovah that Israel worshipped. That nation left their true God, and started worshipping the false God's of the nations around them. Danny makes the accusation that we are somehow brain washed, what ever that means. He teaches something about being independant thinkers, is that not what got Adam and Eve in trouble, and as a result all the rest of mankind lost their relationship with Jehovah and his son. You will not find a more loving people than those who follow the example of Jesus Christ, who in turn examplified his father Jehovah.

Stephen E. Jones said...

David

Thanks for your comment.

>Danny Hazzard ...

There is nothing in my blog post itself about Danny Haszard. Commenting about another commenter to one of my blog posts, as Danny Haszard was, is off-topic.

>I have 5 children of my own, never have I forced them to become one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

But if any one of them became a JW and then left JWism, the Watchtower would force you to shun them. And even if they were not JWs, if any one of them needed a blood transfusion, the Watchtower would force you to not allow him/her to have one, even if it meant he/she would die.

>In fact I encourage them to always ask questions and then use God's word to find the answer.

But not if God's word contradicted the Watchtower's word.

>We worship the same God Jehovah that Israel worshipped.

Sorry but you don't. Because Jesus is the "same God Jehovah that Israel worshipped," come in the flesh (see my "Jesus is Jehovah!" and my series "Jesus is Jehovah in the New Testament").

But you, if you are a Watchtower-obedient JW, believe that Jesus is a mere angel, i.e. Michael the archangel.

As my new English Standard Version Study Bible at John 8:58, correctly points out, "Jesus is thus claiming not only to be eternal but also to be the God who appeared to Moses at the burning bush" (my emphasis):

"John 8:58 If there had been any uncertainty about Jesus' identity in other passages where he said, `I am' (e.g., 6:35; 9:5; 11:25), there was no confusion here because Jesus is claiming to be the one who was alive before Abraham was, that is, more than 2,000 years earlier. Jesus does not simply say, `Before Abraham was, I was,' which would simply mean that he is more than 2,000 years old. Rather, he uses the present tense `I am' in speaking of existence more than 2,000 years earlier, thus claiming a kind of transcendence over time that could only be true of God. The words `I am' in Greek use the same expression (Ego eimi) found in the Septuagint in the first half of God's self-identification in Ex. 3:14, `I am who I am.' Jesus is thus claiming not only to be eternal but also to be the God who appeared to Moses at the burning bush. His Jewish opponents understood his meaning immediately and they `picked up stones' to stone him to death for blasphemy (see John 8:59)." ("ESV Online Sudy Bible," 21/04/2011).

Stephen E. Jones

Scott Layne said...

Mr. Jones,
Briefly reviewed some of your blog content while searching for some other information. However, I thought it important to make a comment on a few points you made.

First, Mr. Rutherford did not "invent" the name Jehovah's Witnesses. They name is derived from Scripture, namely Is. 43:10; "You are my witnesses, Saith Jehovah..." (American Standard Version)

Second, One of your challenge questions for the publications "What does the Bible Really Teach?" was, "If someone one a desert island had only the Bible, would they come to the same understanding as Jehovah's Witnesses?" Presuming you believe this an incisive and not a disingenuous question would require the reader to also understand that you deny Phillip's apostolic account of the Ethiopian eunuch who responded to Phillip's question, “Do you understand what you are reading?" with "How can I,..."unless someone explains it to me?”

As for Jesus being Jehovah, certainly we would disagree. Jesus Christ, known to the world as the Savior, has a name that means "Jehovah is Salvation". The title Christ means "Anointed One". One does not anoint oneself. Who anointed Jesus? Math. 3:17 "This is my Son, The one whom I have approved."

Would the humble Lord and Christ be appreciative or incensed that many today take credit from his Father and incorrectly give it to him? This is the true meaning of blasphemy.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Scott

>Briefly reviewed some of your blog content while searching for some other information. However, I thought it important to make a comment on a few points you made.

Thanks for your comment. But because of its length and multiple points raised, I will answer it in a separate post.

Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones said...

Scott

As promised, I have now answered your comment in a separate post: `Rutherford did not "invent" the name Jehovah's Witnesses'.

Stephen E. Jones

Anonymous said...

The comment about Jo 8:58 and connecting it with Ex 3:14 is a false one, and this is why.

Exodus 3:14 in Early Jewish and Christian Translations

I think people need to know the truth about Jo 8:58. It may take a bit of time to get to grips but please take the time as it is worth it.

The Greek Septuagint is from around 200BC and gives us the Greek for Ex 3:14. Based on the fact that the hebrew which Exodus was written in used "ehyeh" which means "to be" or "I will be". So we can see that the Greek sepuagint renders this verse " And God spoke to Moses, saying, I am THE BEING; and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, THE BEING has sent me to you." see it for your self at: http://www.ecmarsh.com/lxx/Exodus/index.htm OK so English translators decided to use " I am" instead of "THE BEING" and then tie it in with what Jesus said at Jo 8:58. Does this make it right. Lets look at the Greek at Ex 3:14 & John 8:58


So egw eimi o wn (egoo eimi ho oon) should be translated as “I am the being ”, and not “I am what I am”. This attempt (evidence of divinity of Jesus Christ) cannot be sustained because the expression in Exodus 3:14 is different from the expression used in John 8:58. This is another proof that throughout the Christian Greek scriptures, God and Jesus(P) are never identified as being the same person.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Anonymous

>The comment about Jo 8:58 and connecting it with Ex 3:14 is a false one, and this is why.

[...]

Thanks for your comment. I will respond to it in a separate blog post.

Stephen E. Jones
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Comments are moderated. Those I consider off-topic, offensive or sub-standard will not appear. Each individual will usually be allowed only one comment under each post. Since I no longer debate, any response by me will usually be only once to each individual under each post. I reserve the right to respond to any comment as a separate blog post.