Thursday, February 02, 2017

A JW Problem

Jehovah's Witnesses have their own Bible. It's similar to ours, of course, but only similar. The New World Translation (NWT) was translated by a few guys, only one of which had knowledge of Bible languages. He taught himself Hebrew and had a couple of years of Greek, so he was good to go. Not. It is no surprise, then, that their version is not the same as the others and, obviously, they would come to a different place than Christians do.

The most glaring difference is in the deity of Christ. They say no. Our Bibles say yes. The single most clear text that says that Jesus was actually God is John 1:1.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
The NWT says it slightly different.
Originally the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.
"So? Doesn't it say the same thing?" Not quite. You see, there are passages in which humans are referred to as gods (lowercase "g"). See, for instance, Psalm 82:6 and John 10:34-35. See? No "Jesus is God" required.

Now, truth be told, no reputable Greek scholar would render John 1:1 as "a god". It's not in there. It's not right. But at this point, let's leave that alone for a moment because I don't think you have to butt heads here over a meaning of a Greek word to make your point. Look a little farther down.
All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3)
Now note the NWT version.
All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.
Well, that is pretty much the same. If anything, the NWT is more emphatic. "Not even one thing." You see the problem, don't you? They say that Jesus was a created being. Oh, a high-end created being, but a creation nonetheless. So He cannot be God. God is uncreated. Jesus was, in the terms of the first translation, "made" or in the second, He "came into existence". So Jesus is absolutely unique because, as it turns out, He was able to create Himself. Before He came into existence, He caused Himself to come into existence. At least, if we're going to remain faithful to the text -- to their text -- that's the only possible conclusion. Because their text says "not even one thing came into existence" apart from Him. You see, we have a dilemma here. If Jesus is a created being, a "made" person, if He "came into existence" rather than being eternally existent as God, then He made Himself, an absolute impossibility.

We need to pray for people to meet Jesus, the Son of God, the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), the One in whom the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (Col 2:9). Nothing less will do. We need, then, to pray for Jehovah's Witnesses. Maybe this can give an opening for a discussion away from the tried patterns of John 1:1 and a pause long enough for the Spirit to come through. Like each of us, they need Jesus. The one they have is not the biblical Jesus.

25 comments:

Bob said...

If you think it's hard to convince that lost sinner that he/she is lost. that is nothing compared to converting a member of the Jehovah's witness group. you see there minds have been mis-managed with great skill. At least with the uninitiated, you can fill the voids of ignorance with useful information. but to those that are trained up to dispense useless information, they are fully indoctrinated and well equipped to defend the fortifications of their folly. for every point of truth displayed, they respond with well rehearsed counter points. it does not matter the veracity of the counter points just so long as they can quote them from memory.
we could learn a lot from the Jehovah's witness. i am just not sure what that is yet..

Craig said...

There are an increasing number of "Christians" who are taking a similar approach to scripture. It's all about insisting on an interpretive approach that ignores the reality of thousands of years of scholarship in favor of someone's uninformed opinion.

Stan said...

Yes, Bob, I don't imagine the right set of words will wake up a JW. But if Scripture says, "How are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?" (Rom 10:14), then I can pray that God will use the truth to introduce them to Him of whom they haven't yet heard.

Stan said...

You're right, Craig. I think it can be found most places in Christianity ... even you and I sometimes. We have a prior commitment to a position and bend Scripture to meet it. It's only when the tension breaks it up that we can move on. My prayer for me is that I won't be that kind of Christian, bending Scripture to my will.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

You need to get them thinking outside of the JW box. I like to have them read Hebrews 1, and then tell me that Jesus is an angel as they claim.

Just a little seed will often set them thinking and researching. I was a Mormon, and the little seed that got me thinking and searching was when I learned that their god had sex with Mary for Jesus to be conceived. That mean Mary couldn't be a virgin and that bothered me. I was told that she was still a virgin to mortal man, but "God" is an immortal man. My rejoinder was, it doesn't matter what kind of a man, if she's had sex she can't be a virgin.

Just seeds is all we need to plant if they are thinking people.

Stan said...

Yes, indeed, Hebrews is another big time "Jesus is God" text. Any light in the darkness is good.

Craig said...

Stan,

What you said...😀

Bob said...

i have to admit that my post was a little fatalistic. i have demonstrated a very short sighted view. surely God can save anyone no matter the background. i stand corrected. thank you.

God promised the Jehovah's witness that there would be converts found on at all four corners of the world. then he made the earth round.... and he laughed and laughed and laughed.

ok only kidding... just had to get that out of my system. sorry.

David said...

Is it bad that I chuckled at that one?

Stan said...

You'll have to answer to God for yourself on that one.

Antichrist said...

Hi guys - Here's something that you can point out to Jehovah's Witnesses, not that it'll matter.

Look up "Criticism of Jehovah's Witnesses" on Wikipedia and start reading them their many failed prophecies.

By the way, when you fail to persuade them, remember this lesson. Faith is not only belief without evidence, but it's belief IN SPITE of the evidence. And that's the way it is with all religious folks. Real-world evidence is irrelevant to their religious beliefs.

Peace.

Stan said...

Antichrist, I've posted your comments ... all of them. It looks a lot like mere trolling. But, hey, we get all kinds.

I do need to point out that:

1. I don't believe in faith without evidence (let alone against the evidence). Faith without evidence is called "credulity". I believe that biblical faith is faith based on evidence. Just for your benefit, you might want to be careful about overgeneralization on your truth claims.

2. The claim that "Real-world evidence is irrelevant to their religious beliefs" is a claim, not a fact. The accusation that anti-theists equally ignore real-world evidence to support their beliefs is an equally valid claim.

3. You ended your comments with "Peace". I don't know exactly what you mean by that, given your certainty that all who believe in God are deluded and your real truth is that there is no hope, no meaning to life beyond what you make of it, no genuine purpose to existence. But you go with that.

Antichrist said...

Hi Stan - I'm disappointed. Let me show you how I would have handled the first part.

Hi Antichrist - Thanks for that list. Now everybody on this thread can put that online information under any Jehovah's Witness' nose and prove that their religion has been wrong over and over again, year after year after year. Thanks a lot.

But no. Instead you imply that I'm a troll. So what is a troll? Is it somebody with a different or opposing opinion?

As for the rest of your reply, I'll probably have to split it up.

1. You DO believe things without evidence. In fact, someone could put a gun to your head right now and you couldn't prove even one of your religious beliefs. That's because there isn't any. That's why it's called faith.

But don't feel bad. I can say the same to any Judean, Christian, Islamist, Hinduist, Buddhist, Mormon, Scientologist, Wiccan, etc, and not be proven wrong. I can overgeneralize with complete abandon. So let's try it with you.

You wrote, "I believe that biblical faith is faith based on evidence."

There are many modern online encyclopedias to choose from, like Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia Britannica, the World Book Encyclopedia, Columbia's Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia Smithsonian, Scholarpedia, etc. Now let's get to that evidence.

01. Which encyclopedias state that gods actually exist?

02. Which encyclopedias state that only one singular god actually exists?

03. Which encyclopedias state that a specifically named, singular god actually exists?

04. Which encyclopedias state that YOUR god actually exists?

05. Which encyclopedias state that ANY gods actually created anything?

06. Which encyclopedias state that angels actually exist?

07. Which encyclopedias state that Satan actually exists?

08. Which encyclopedias state that a still-living, biblical Jesus actually exists?

09. Which encyclopedias state that a place called heaven actually exists?

10. Which encyclopedias state that a place called hell actually exists?

And a subset of questions accompanies each one of the above, such as...

10 a. Which encyclopedias pinpoint hell’s specific address or location?

10 b. Which encyclopedias state hell's actual physical size?

10 c. Which encyclopedias state hell’s semi-current population? Etc.


The ball is firmly in your court, so I'll split this here.

Stan said...

There is evidence for God. Because you don't accept it doesn't mean it doesn't exist (the evidence, I mean). In fact, that was your original accusation, wasn't it? We ignore evidence? I've written on the topic on more than one occasion. (That last reference includes other references, too.) I've written on Science vs Religion before. Further, the word translated "faith" in the New Testament means literally "to be convinced by argument or evidence." Faith and reason are not in opposition in biblical terms.

I'm amazed that you only allow as true that which can be quantified by natural standards. You reject, then, the existence of love, for instance. Can't be measured ... doesn't exist. Consider the rationale. If you're measuring sound, you can't use a voltmeter. If you're measuring light, an oscilloscope won't help. And if you're measuring the supernatural, you can't expect to do it with natural means. I mean, really ... "hell's actual physical size"? And you're thinking that should be in Wikipedia if it's real.

Stan said...

Oh, for definition purposes, from Wikipedia, "In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll's amusement." Nothing to do with "differing opinions" which, if you did look at my blog, you would find all over the place. I am always glad to discuss ideas with people. I'm never interested in the ire that too often accompanies it.

And my purpose for writing the post was not like yours here, to prove that all JW's are losers. It was to use their Bible to help them see that their direction is mistaken and point them to something better.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

So if something isn't published in an encyclopedia, that means it isn't true?!?!?

Wow, when one determines truth by an encyclopedia, they've really, really limited themselves.

Antichrist said...

Hi Stan - In #2, you wrote, "The claim that 'Real-world evidence is irrelevant to their religious beliefs' is a claim, not a fact. "

Really? Are you sure? Have you taken that Wikipedia list to any Jehovah's Witnesses? You might be amazed at their religious pigheadedness towards multiple actual facts. But enough about them. The following two paragraphs are from the conclusion of Wikipedia’s entry on Noah's Ark…

"Flood geology is the religiously inspired interpretation of the geological history of the Earth in terms of the global flood described in Genesis 6–9. Similar views played a part in the early development of the science of geology, even after the biblical chronology had been rejected by geologists in favour of an ancient Earth. Flood geology is an activity within creation science, which is a part of young Earth creationism.[46][47]

"Modern geology and its sub-disciplines utilize the scientific method to analyze the geology of the earth. Flood geology contradicts the scientific consensus in geology and paleontology, as well as that in related disciplines such as chemistry, physics, astronomy, cosmology, biology, geophysics and stratigraphy.[48][49][50] There is an absence of evidence for any of the effects proposed by flood geologists, and their claims concerning phenomena such as fossil layering are not taken seriously by scientists.[51] More generally, the key tenets of flood geology are refuted by scientific analysis,[48] and it is considered to be pseudoscience within the scientific community.[52]"

In other words, it’s pure myth. Even though the bible said it happened, it didn't.

-----

The following are two short excerpts from the first paragraph of Wikipedia’s entry on “The Exodus”…

“The Exodus ('going out') is the founding myth of Israel…"

That's part of the first sentence. Please notice the word, "myth." Now here's a little more...

“The historicity of the exodus continues to attract popular attention, but most histories of ancient Israel no longer consider information about it recoverable or even relevant to the story of Israel's emergence. The archeological evidence does not support the story told in the Book of Exodus and most archaeologists have therefore abandoned the investigation of Moses and the Exodus as ‘a fruitless pursuit.’”

Wikipedia (and others) proclaim it's a "myth." But they wouldn't if there was evidence to the contrary. And since there's no tangible physical evidence for over 2.5 million people wandering around a small area for forty years, then all they can logically do is to call it a myth.

Please feel free to double-check all this information at other online encyclopedias.

So, is real-world evidence irrelevant to your religious beliefs?

Bob said...

I love to watch people try to prove the negative. have they considered the enormity of the challenge?
if i held the belief that there is no such thing as hell, angles, or God. i am required to have a knowledge that supersedes and extends beyond the boundaries of this proposition.
if i believe that space does not exist beyond the limits of our galaxy, i must have knowledge of what actually does exist beyond this boundary. if i believe that there is no such thing as a purple stone, i must have an account of all stones in existence, to make such a determination. this why with all logical arguments we treat unknowns as such, pending new information. any definitive statement concerning the non-existence of a thing, is flawed from the start.

Stan said...

You don't understand the point. (I hope to help JW's, not prove they're wrong or eliminate religion.) You will ignore what I've said. (No response at all to the actual evidence.) It is highly likely that I will cease publishing your comments. Feel free to stop any time.

You've offered me evidence that there are those who don't believe the Bible is true. Color me surprised. Recently there was a spate ("a large number of similar things or events appearing or occurring in quick succession") of "proofs" offered in recent years that the world is flat, not round. You've ignored the evidence. Apparently real-world evidence is irrelevant to your beliefs. And, of course, that would be ridiculous. No, real-world evidence is not irrelevant. But your upstanding Wikipedia sources are not some sacrosanct proof. There is evidence for Creation that you will duly ignore along with the Flood (more more than a little), and the Exodus. You will choose to set it aside just as I choose to assume that those who begin with the premise that the Bible can't be true will set aside the evidence to the contrary as well. It is considered normal to weigh evidence and determine which best fits the situation. You do it. So do I. Yours is a logical fallacy known as "appeal to authority", as if Wikipedia is an authority and anyone who disagrees is wrong. It is considered a fallacy, not a proof.

Stan said...

Bob, that "You don't understand" comment was at "Antichrist", not you.

Antichrist said...

Hi Glenn - You wrote, "So if something isn't published in an encyclopedia, that means it isn't true?!?!? Wow, when one determines truth by an encyclopedia, they've really, really limited themselves."

Let me tell you a little about the bible. The bible has a serpent that talks, a donkey that talks, a man going to heaven in a flaming chariot, a man whose hair gives him strength, a man’s bones raising a dead man, a man being fed twice by birds, a man who lives three days in a big fish, a sun that stops moving in the sky, magical fruit, nine hundred year old men, a six day creation, forty years of food falling from the sky, waters magically parting (more than once), water magically coming from rocks, a magical pole that cures snake bites, being magically burned to death for using the wrong incense, a replenishing bowl of flour, the four winds of the earth, curses that actually work, a forty year moving pillar of fire, Seraphim, a firmament in the sky that has "floodgates," and an invisible heavenly kingdom. And that's just for starters. There's plenty more.”

There is no evidence for ANY of those things. But if there were, then we could find that evidence in any reputable, modern, online encyclopedia.

Bottom line - If you believe any of that biblical stuff I just listed, then your faith is belief without evidence.

Stan said...

Last one, Antichrist. Pure nonsense and you ignore everything that disagrees with you. If it there are reasons to believe that there is a God and there are reasons to believe that the Bible is true, then that would be evidence that those stories are equally true. The position that "These things can't be true because I've never seen them" requires an a priori position that everything is material and the supernatural cannot exist. That is, "I refuse to accept any evidence to the contrary." I've offered evidence for God. You refuse to look at it or acknowledge that there is evidence even if you simply refuse to accept it. We're done here.

Antichrist said...

Hi Bob - You wrote, "I love to watch people try to prove the negative."

Such as? It's awfully hard to reply to someone when no specifics have been given.

By the way, it's IMPOSSIBLE to prove a negative like gods, unicorns, satyrs, leprechauns, bigfoot, etc. And it will always be empirically impossible.

Antichrist said...

Hi Stan - You wrote, "Pure nonsense and you ignore everything that disagrees with you. If it there are reasons to believe..."

I have no idea what you're refering to by "pure nonsence." Furthermore, "if" is a qualifier. It's not a fact. And speaking of facts, you didn't produce one piece of encyclopedic evidence for any of my ten specific questions to you. Does that mean that there isn't any?

You wrote, "There is evidence for Creation..."

I'll have to assume you mean Christian's creation story and not Hindu's creation story, or Mormon's creation story, or Scientolgy's creation story, or Native American's creation story, etc and etc. Well let's look at that...

Thinking about the biblical creation hypothesis, what online encyclopedia will I find the evidence…

01. That the earth was created before the sun

02. That the earth was created before the stars

03. That, “God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night,” even though there's only one "light" source in our entire solar system.

04. That, “God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it.” You know, that firmament thingy that has “floodgates.” Where is that firm thing?

05. And where are the waters that are supposidly “above” that vault/dome/firmament thing?

06. That a fully-formed, first man popped into existence.

07. That a fully-formed, first woman was made from the first man's rib?

08. That a garden of Eden existed complete with two magical trees

09. That serpents can talk.

10. That, “In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth” as he twice unambiguously asserted.

11. Where will I find the encyclopedic evidence that confirms the biblical creation hypothesis?

12. And if there isn't any, then what does that mean?

Stan said...

It is pure nonsense that believing anything in the Bible is true is faith without evidence. I explained further that belief in the Bible is reasonable if belief in God is reasonable (and I've offered evidence for that).

I also said that was the end of it. You ignore what I said (and Glenn said) about the nonsense that the sole source of evidence is the encyclopedia. I will also ignore your requirement that the only possible source of proof is the encyclopedia -- that you will only allow evidence and answers in your specified format and no others. I'm sorry that you are Anti-Christ. I will pray for you. I'm afraid, given your "one-way" approach where everything must be answered in your format and all other responses, regardless of their value or validity, are ignored, that this is the end of it. Unless you have something of value to offer readers, I'll not be posting any more of your comments. I'm sorry you opted to be so narrow-minded on this.