Jehovah's Witnesses vs The Bible
For a home-spun, Bible-based religion whose origin is relatively recent, the Watchtower Society has done pretty well for itself. Beginning with one man shortly after the American Civil War, it currently numbers approximately 8.2 million active members spread out in approximately 118,000 congregations worldwide. (Congregations have been displaced and consolidated in recent years due to the Society liquidating a number of Kingdom Halls in order to settle its legal obligations.)
My first encounter with a Watchtower Society agent (a.k.a. Jehovah's Witness) occurred in 1969. At the time I was young and inexperienced; and thus assumed that the missionary coming down my dad's driveway was a typical Christian.
But when I talked this over with an elder; he became alarmed; and urged me to read a little book titled "30 Years A Watchtower Slave" by William J. Schnell; whom the Society at one time demonized as an agent of Satan. I would not be surprised if it still does.
After getting my eyes opened by Mr. Schnell's book, I was afterwards steered towards another book titled "Kingdom Of The Cults" by Walter Martin. No doubt the Society demonizes Mr. Martin too.
Around late 1980, my wife and I attended a series of lectures sponsored by a local church titled "How To Witness To Jehovah's Witnesses". The speaker (call him Pete) was an ex JW who had been in the Watchtower Society system for near three decades before terminating his involvement; so he knew the twists and turns of its doctrines pretty good.
Pete didn't train us to hammer the Society's missionaries in a discussion because even if you best them scripture for scripture, they will not give up on the Society. Their mind's unflinching premise is that the Society is right even when it appears to be totally wrong. They are thoroughly convinced that the Society is the voice of God, while your voice has no more validity than that of a squeaky little gerbil.
Later on, I read a book titled "Why I Left The Jehovah's Witnesses" by Ted Dencher. I also read the Society's little brown book titled "Reasoning From The Scriptures".
(This was all before the internet and the ready volume of information available online, e.g. YouTube.)
From all that vetting, study, and training I quickly discovered that although the Watchtower Society uses many of Christianity's standard terms and phrases, those terms and phrases mean something entirely different in the JW mind than what you'd expect because the Society has re-defined the meanings of those terminologies.
So your first challenge with Jehovah's Witness teachings is to scale the language barrier. That by itself is an Herculean task because you'll not only be up against a tangle of semantics, but also a Jumanji of twisted scriptures, double speak, humanistic reasoning, rationalizing, and clever sophistry.
Staring Into The Abyss
Raymond Victor Franz was a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses from October 20, 1971 until his removal on May 22, 1980, and served at the organization's world headquarters for fifteen years, from 1965 until 1980.
Mr. Franz resigned, and stated that the request for his resignation, and his subsequent dis-fellowshipping, resulted from allegations of apostasy.
Following his departure, Mr. Franz wrote a book titled "Crisis Of Conscience" relating his personal experiences with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, and his views on Jehovah's Witness teachings. It's a bit expensive in print form, but as of the date of this writing could be heard audibly for free on YouTube and/or as a free pdf download.
Mr. Franz's book, and his interviews, are helpful aids for people wondering if they made the right decision leaving the Society's fold. It's also helpful for people thinking about becoming a Jehovah's Witness but not too sure whether they'd be making a really big, life-changing mistake not easily corrected.
Were John Q and/or Jane Doe Watchtower Society missionary to be questioned if they believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, I can assure you they would answer in the affirmative. However, what you may not know is that they and the interviewer would not be speaking the same language as the conversation would be talking about two very different processes that go by the same name. In other words: you would find yourself thrown off by semantic double speak.
The classical Christian understanding of Christ's resurrection is common throughout the gospels; viz: Jesus Christ's dead, crucified body was restored to life as per John 2:19-22.
"Jesus said to them: Break down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Therefore the Jews said: This temple was built in forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days? But he was talking about the temple of his body. When, though, he was raised up from the dead, his disciples called to mind that he used to say this; and they believed the Scripture and the saying that Jesus said."
You see, if Jesus' dead, crucified body had not been restored to life, that entire passage would be easily proven false. But according to the Watchtower Society's way of seeing things; Christ's dead, crucified body didn't return to life at all; and here's why.
In Watchtower Society theology, an angel named Michael volunteered to come to the earth to die for humanity's sins. But in order to do so; he had to relinquish his angel existence to become a human existence seeing as how in Society theology it is impossible for someone to exist as a spirit being and a human being simultaneously. However, when Michael expired, he didn't go completely out of existence. Instead, his so-called "life force" remained intact and was transferred to a human form.
"the transferal of the life of his firstborn Son from the spirit realm to earth. Only in this way could the child eventually born have retained identity as the same person who had resided in heaven as the Word." (Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, p.920)
"He had to become a perfect man and yet not lose his continuity of life. His life-force was not to be extinguished but would be transferred to the ovum of the virgin girl, Mary." (Watchtower magazine, 2-15-82, p.7)
But Michael's existence as a human being was only temporary. When his human form passed away on the cross, the Society claims that God transferred Michael's life force back into his angel form thus restoring him to his former spirit existence; leaving the corpse of his human existence in a permanent state of decease.
NOTE: The Society teaches that death terminates existence; but apparently not entirely because the Society also believes that at death, an angel's life force was transferred to another form— in Michael's case, from a spirit form to an organic form; in effect, preserving a portion of Michael's existence so it could be re-transferred later when God went about restoring Michael to his former existence.
It could be argued that Jesus lives on in the body of an angel; but that wouldn't be true seeing as how Jesus' life force would've been Michael's to begin with.
The Society has to accept the obvious fact that their doctrine implies that Jesus Christ was never really fully human, rather, he was an amalgam of angel and human seeing as how it was the life force of an angel that kept Jesus' human body alive. In other words: the Society's Jesus wasn't an organic human in the normal sense, rather; he was an organic angel.
FYI: The Society maintains that Michael's crucified human form had to stay dead so he could be an angel again. But that's not the only reason the Society gives for keeping Michael's human remains perpetually deceased. An additional explanation is given on page 237 of the April 15, 1963 issue of the Watchtower magazine; where it's stated:
"If Jesus were to take his body of flesh, blood, and bones to heaven and enjoy them there, what would this mean? It would mean that there would be no resurrection of the dead for anybody. Why not? Because Jesus would be taking his sacrifice off God's altar."
There is a really, really big flaw in the Society's theology; and that's Michael's human remains. In order to confirm that his crucified human body stayed dead, the Society is going to have produce it. A piece of evidence of that significance can't be allowed to just slip through a crack unnoticed as if it makes no difference. As Carl Sagan once said: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Till then, we should reckon that when the Bible speaks of Jesus Christ's resurrection, it's talking about a human corpse rather than an angel's.
● Acts 1:1-3 . .The first account, O Theophilus, I composed about all the things Jesus started both to do and to teach, until the day that he was taken up, after he had given commandment through holy spirit to the apostles whom he chose. To these also by many positive proofs he showed himself alive after he had suffered.
The Watchtower Society's version of those "positive proofs" is interesting.
In order to show his friends that their savior was back from death, the arch angel Michael is alleged to have materialized an artificial Jesus that was in all respects just as physical, and just as functional, as the real Jesus.
1• The New Testament never even one time, on any occasion, nor under any circumstances, nor in any situation, either attests, alleges, alludes, or states that an angel named Michael appeared to Christ's disciples cloaked in a human avatar.
2• The Society's Michael never once let on to his friends that he was an angel in disguise. He led them to believe that his avatar was the actual Jesus Christ they all knew prior to his crucifixion.
3• Passing one's self off in the guise of a dead man is the lowest form of identity theft imaginable. It's what I expect from human beings, but that is not the kind of behavior I have a right to expect from an arch angel.
4• A so-called materialized body is not a real person.
5• Neither Paul, nor Peter, nor John, nor James, nor Jude, ever even one single instance in any of their writings identify Jesus Christ as an angel named Michael: not once. You'd think that if Jesus Christ is currently an angel who goes by the name of Michael, those men would have said so because that would be a really big deal.
FAQ: Why make an issue of the nature of Christ's resurrection?
A: Were I the Devil, I would do my utmost best to disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ's crucified dead body because his crucifixion is only half enough to protect people from the wrath of God. Though his physical body's death obtains forgiveness for people's sins, its death doesn't gain exoneration for them.
● Rom 4:25 . . He was delivered up for the sake of our trespasses, and was raised up for the sake of declaring us righteous.
The Greek word translated "righteous" is dikaiosis (dik-ah'-yo-sis) which means acquittal; defined as an adjudication of innocence.
People merely forgiven still carry a load of guilt; viz: they have a criminal record. Christ's physical resurrection deletes their record so that on the books, it's as though they've never been anything but 100% innocent.
This clearing of one's guilt that I'm talking about is obtained via the kindness and generosity of God through belief in the resurrection of Christ's crucified dead body. If the Devil can succeed in convincing people that Jesus' crucified body is still dead or, even better yet, make them question whether the man even existed at all; then they will fail to obtain an acquittal, and consequently end up put to death in brimstone because records are to be reviewed when people stand to face justice at the Great White Throne event depicted at Rev 20:11-15.
Of all the doctrines invented by the Watchtower Society, I'd have to say that their resurrection story is the most insidious because belief in the recovery of Christ's crucified dead body is one of the essential elements of the gospel that must be accepted if one is to have any chance at all of escaping the sum of all fears.
● 1Cor 15:17 . . Further, if Christ has not been raised up, your faith is useless; you are yet in your sins.
NOTE: According to 1Cor 15:34, people that disbelieve Jesus Christ's crucified body is alive aren't fully conscious; viz: they're like someone in a stupor; i.e. dazed.
Christ In The Kingdom Of God
FAQ: 1Cor 15:50 clearly testifies that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Wouldn't that fact alone preclude the possibility of Christ's crucified dead body returning to life?
A: According to John 3:3-12, the kingdom of God is primarily an earthly venue so we're not talking about Heaven in 1Cor 15:50.
Also, the Greek word translated "inherit" is kleronomeo (klay-ron-om-eh'-o) which speaks of heirs; roughly defined by Webster's as someone who is entitled to receive something from an ancestor. In other words: in order to obtain a place and/or a possession in the kingdom of God, one must first and foremost be Jehovah's legitimate kin— for real, either by birth or by adoption.
Anyway; it was essential that Christ's crucified dead body be returned to life or otherwise his prediction as per John 2:19-22, and the Scriptures as per Ps 16:10, Luke 24:44-46, and Acts 2:24-32 would be easily proven false.
However, as 1Cor 15:50 implies: his body's original materials were unsuitable for a place and/or a possession in the kingdom God, which is pretty serious seeing as Jesus in on track to dominate it while seated on David's throne in Jerusalem. So then, the chemistry of his body had to be reformulated.
God is very creative so I seriously doubt that natural flesh and blood are the only materials that He has to work with. I also seriously doubt that spirit material is the default material when natural flesh and blood are not an option; I mean, after all, if God was able to design the human body in its original form, so I see no reason why He would not be able to redesign it.
FAQ: When would Christ's body have undergone this redesign?
A: Someday all of Christ's believing followers will be physically resurrected and taken up to meet the Lord in the air (1Thes 4:13-17). On the way up, their natural bodies will undergo a sudden and miraculous transformation (1Cor 15:51-53). They'll become superhuman; viz: deathless and ageless.
I think it's pretty safe to assume that Christ's crucified body underwent a similar transformation while on the way up to heaven as per Acts 1:9 so that today his body is no longer a normal human body; but instead, a superhuman body to which all his believing followers' bodies will one day conform. (Phil 4:20-21)
NOTE: Although the organic aspects of Christ's body have been reformulated; it's still capable of dining upon ordinary foods and beverages. (Mark 14:25 and Luke 22:16-18)
FAQ: If Jesus Christ's corpse really did return to life; then how did he get it into a room without opening the door? (John 20:19)
A: Christ walked on water, restored withered limbs, cured people born blind, healed serious diseases like leprosy, restored dead bodies to life, controlled the weather, multiplied fish and bread, turned water into wine, and levitated. Plus; he once said that rocks could be made to speak. (Luke 19:40)
What's one more miracle, more or less? Walking through walls? Disappearing and reappearing? How hard could any of that really be for a man with the powers of God at his disposal?
It's curious how people can say they believe in miracles, yet cannot believe that God has sufficient control over the laws of nature to make a physical human body pass through solid objects. What defines miracles anyway? Aren't they acts of God that defy reason? Mark Twain once remarked that faith is believin' what you know ain't so. I would add that faith is believing what's revealed rather than only what makes sense.
FAQ: Well; if Jehovah has enough control over the laws of nature to pass a physical human body through closed doors, then couldn't He pass the arch angel Michael through the door as a spirit and then materialize him on the other side as a human in order to communicate with his friends?
That would be acceptable if only there were some record of it in the New
Testament. But it is an irrefutable fact that the New Testament not even one
time, on any occasion, nor under any circumstances, nor in any situation, either
attests, alleges, alludes, or states that an angel named Michael appeared to
Christ's friends cloaked in a human avatar. That doctrine doesn't come from the
New Testament. It's a humanistic fantasy.
Spirit Body vs Spiritual Body
Watch for the deliberate misquote in the passage below.
● 1Cor 15:42-44 . . So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised up in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised up in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised up in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spirit body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spirit one.
Catch the misquote? Well; there is no mention of a spirit body in that passage. The actual word is "spiritual".
The Greek word translated "spiritual" is ambiguous. It doesn't necessarily refer to the characteristics of thin air. Below is a list of spiritual things that bear absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the bodily chemistry of an angel or a demon.
Spiritual law (Rom 7:14)
Spiritual things (Rom 15:27)
Spiritual people (1Cor 2:15)
Spiritual nourishment (1Cor 10:3)
Spiritual water (1Cor 10:4)
Spiritual rock (1Cor 10:4)
Spiritual counselors (Gal 6:1)
Spiritual blessings (Eph 1:3)
Spiritual music (Eph 5:19)
Spiritual understanding (Col 1:9)
Spiritual housing (1Pet 2:5)
Spiritual sacrifices (1Pet 2:5)
It's apparently been decided, and chipped in stone, by a number of theologians that the spiritual body has to be composed of spirit because of the passage below.
● 1Cor 15:50 . . This I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom,
But spirit isn't necessarily the default material when flesh and blood are ruled out.
In my opinion if God was intelligent enough, and creative enough, to invent all the natural atomic elements on the periodic table with which to fabricate the current cosmos with all of its natural forms of life, matter, and energy; then it shouldn't be all that difficult for Him to produce yet another set of atomic elements with which to fabricate an unnatural body— i.e. a superman —composed of materials heretofore unknown by the likes of Albert Einstein, J.Robert Oppenheimer, Carl Sagan, and Stephen Hawking.
There are some other things in addition to immortality that are known about the spiritual body.
1) The spiritual body is patterned after Christ's glorified body.
● Phil 3:20-21 . .Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
2) The spiritual body is fully human.
● Heb 2:5-8 . . For it is not to angels that he has subjected the inhabited earth to come,d about which we are speaking. But a certain witness has given proof somewhere, saying: “What is man that you keep him in mind, or the son of man that you take care of him? You made him a little lower than angels; with glory and honor you crowned him, and appointed him over the works of your hands. All things you subjected under his feet.” For in that he subjected all things to him God left nothing that is not subject to him. Now, though, we do not yet see all things in subjection to him;
● Heb 5:1-6 . . For every high priest taken from among men is appointed in behalf of men over the things pertaining to God
3) The spiritual body is capable of dining upon ordinary foods and beverages.
● Matt 26:29 . . I tell you: I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom.
● Luke 22:15-16 . . I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you: I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.
● Luke 22:28-29 . . However, you are the ones that have stuck with me in my trials; and I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom,
4) The spiritual body is visible to the naked eye.
● Acts 1:11 . . Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven.
● 1John 3:2 . .We shall see him just as he is.
● Rev 1:7 . . Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him
Jesus Learning Obedience
● Ps 110:4 . . Jehovah has sworn (and he will feel no regret): You are a priest to time indefinite according to the manner of Melchizedek
● Heb 5:10-11 . . He has been specifically called by God a high priest according to the manner of Melchizedek. Concerning him we have much to say and hard to be explained, since you all have become dull in your hearing.
Melchizedek's only personal appearance in the Bible occurs at Gen 14:18-20. The letter to Hebrews in the New Testament utilizes him as a "type" of Christ's high priesthood. A high priest is essentially a mediator between God and Man; his duty is primarily to reconcile their differences.
Though the author of the letter to Hebrews was no doubt duty-bound and inspired by God to write it, I can sense reluctance in his tone— not because his audience lacked enough spiritual acumen to keep up. No, nothing like that. The Greek word for "dull" primarily means sluggish, i.e. lazy, slow, and/or indifferent, i.e. a lack of interest. In other words, he knew that the recipients of his letter would likely be bored to tears by his discussion of Jesus Christ's association with the high priest order of Melchizedek, and would resist making an honest effort to understand it, i.e. a discussion of Melchizedek and how he relates to Jesus Christ isn't everybody's cup of tea so I won't bother going into detail.
Seeing as how Jesus' high priesthood is patterned after Melchizedek's, then one of its basic requirements is humanity, i.e. high priests are people rather than angels. That's a very good requirement because in order to be most effective, a high priest needs to relate to his constituents. Spirit beings of course cannot relate to human beings because they are an altogether different species.
Mel's jurisdiction was on the earth. But that was before Israel's covenanted law established Aaron's priesthood. So when that happened; Mel's post was temporarily suspended; and in point of fact, if Christ were on earth, he would not be an active priest because this is Aaron's district.
However, though Mel's post was moved to heaven's temple, there were no changes made to the nature of the person who holds the office. In other words; a priest according to the manner of Melchizedek is a human being no matter where he is. And since Ps 110:4 made Jesus Christ a priest to time indefinite, then he will remain a human being to time indefinite; and in order to be a human being, the Society says he has to have a human body because in their theology; human existence is entirely physical.
● 1Tim 2:5 . . For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus.
The Greek for both "men" and "man" in that verse is the same. It's derived from anthropos (anth'-ro-pos) —a common word for h.sapiens in the New Testament; which is why that passage doesn't say there is one mediator between God and men, an angel Christ Michael. No it doesn't say an angel Christ Michael; rather, it says a man Christ Jesus; who everyone knows to be an h.sapiens being rather than an angel by the same name.
A search of the entire New Testament for the angel Michael turns up but two references: Jude 1:9 and Rev 12:7. That angel is nowhere in the gospels, nowhere in Acts, and nowhere in the epistles other than Jude. If that angel is so all-fired important; then why is it so marginalized? Even the Society itself is a bit perplexed as to why the name of an angel so highly revered in their theology is nigh unto absent in the New Testament.
The Society claims that the names Jesus and Michael are interchangeable; but that's the most ridiculous case of apples and oranges on record; not to mention a very serious case of identity fraud. Even if an angel had once existed as a human being named Jesus; it no longer does. Now it exists as a spirit being named Michael. The two names aren't interchangeable because the one name denotes a human being and the other name denotes a spirit being. Go ahead; search the New Testament and see how much luck you have finding somebody's name hyphenated like this: Jesus-Michael Christ. You won't because the Society's theology is an utter fantasy.
Oh what a wicked web we weave, When first we practice to
— Sir Walter Scott —
That poem rings so true. Once Charles T.Russell and/or Joseph F.Rutherford declared that Michael the angel, and Jesus Christ the human, are the same person; they were faced with the Herculean task of forcing the Bible to agree; and that was quite a challenge; which was accomplished by means of clever amalgams of fiction, sophistry, half-truths, semantic double speak, and humanistic reasoning.
Anyway: it's one thing to sympathize and say you feel your fellow man's pain; but in order to truly empathize with his pain; you've got to go through it yourself. It's exactly that which makes Jesus an excellent choice for high priesthood in heaven because the things he suffered made him a "merciful" high priest; viz: an high priest that's truly one of us instead of an indifferent judgmental bigot from another world.
During America's dust bowl era in the 1930's, the Federal Farm Security Administration sent out an educated young lady named Sonora Babb to counsel migrant farm workers out west. Nobody trusted her until they found out she grew up in the so-called No Man's Land of the southern great plains. Sonora wasn't just another indifferent stuffed-shirt bureaucrat. She was familiar with the dust bowlers' way of life first-hand, and it made all the difference in the quality of her rapport with migrant farm workers.
Christ lived on earth for about 30 years prior to his public appearances; and during that time, didn't lead a sheltered life; in point of fact, he underwent a sort of boot camp.
● Heb 5:7-9 . . During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
By taking on the nature of a human being; the Word found out for himself just how difficult it is for flesh and blood to comply with God in a manner consistent with His requirements; hence the prayers and loud cries and tears. But his experiences as a human being forged him into the kind of high priest that God deems suitable to hold the office.
● Heb 2:10 . . For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
The "perfection" spoken of in that passage specifically relates to priesthood rather than to personal conduct. Imagine an automobile coming off a factory assembly that was satisfactory in every way except it had no tires. It would be a car, but it wouldn't be a perfect car. i.e. it would come off the assembly line with parts missing, i.e. it would be incomplete. In sort of a similar manner, Jesus was a satisfactory human being in very way when he was born, but humanness alone wasn't enough to qualify him for priesthood. Thirty years of life on Earth as an ordinary human being had the effect of installing a set of tires on him, so to speak.
● Heb 4:15-16 . . We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
The Greek words for "confidence" indicate that when speaking to Christ, it's okay to just be yourself; viz: to be out-spoken, i.e. frank and candid: which has been made possible by a priesthood in Heaven chaired by a fellow man who lived down here on the Earth as an h.sapiens long enough to know what it's like to be one; and to die like one too.
FAQ: Jesus is way up in Heaven and I'm way down here on the Earth. How is he suppose to hear me with all that distance between us?
A: According to John 1:1-14, Jesus Christ is not only human, but also divine. Don't worry, he'll hear you alright; nothing escapes his notice.
FAQ: I understand why a high priest in Heaven has to be human, but why divine too?
A: Because in order to be a really effective mediator between God and Man, Jesus has to be able to relate not just to Man but to God also. I mean, if it's difficult for angels and humans to relate to one another, just think how much more difficult it is for God and humans to relate to one another. God may be sufficiently omniscience to sympathize with my concerns, but it's nigh unto impossible for me to sympathize with His.
To put this issue in perspective: a man might be educated enough to sympathize with a pocket gopher's concerns, but no amount of education will ever enable the gopher to sympathize with a man's concerns. The divide between the two species is just too great.
On page 1129 of the Watchtower publication Aid To Bible Understanding a mediator is defined as one who interposes between two parties at variance to reconcile them: an intercessor.
Here's a question that someone wrote in to the "Questions From Readers" section of the April 01, 1976 issue of Watchtower magazine, asking:
Is Jesus the mediator only for anointed Christians? (a.k.a. the 144,000)
The answer given in the magazine is YES.
The magazine's answer is corroborated on page 1130 of Aid To Bible Understanding where it says that the 144,000 are the only ones who have the mediator; a.k.a. Jesus Christ. (1John 2:1)
Intercession for non anointed Witnesses is accomplished on the coattails of the 144,000; viz: Jesus Christ is an indirect, second party mediator for the rank and file via their affiliation with the Watchtower Society.
It's sort of like buying insurance from Allstate. The company doesn't sell direct; its business is conducted through brokers. In essence, that's what the Society presumes itself: Jesus Christ's mediation brokerage.
So then; when a Jehovah's Witness either defects or is disfellowshipped, it breaks the pipeline to the mediator that they enjoyed within the Society's fold; right quick losing all contact with God, and placing themselves in grave danger of the calamities depicted in the book of Revelation.
Bottom line: According to Watchtower Society theology; it is impossible for non-anointed people to be on peaceful terms with God apart from affiliation with the Society's anointed class, a.k.a. the faithful and wise steward.
In other words: Christ's mediation for rank and file JWs as per 1Tim 2:5 is accomplished via a chain of communication that begins with Christ's association with the faithful and wise steward; and from thence to the rest of humanity. Removing the faithful and wise steward from the chain cuts humanity off from Christ; thus leaving them with no way to reconcile with God.
NOTE: I've had JWs tell me that the Watchtower magazine isn't an authority in matters of faith and practice. But the Jan 1, 1942 issue of the magazine, on page 5, speaks for itself as a trustworthy source of Watchtower Society theology by saying:
"Those who are convinced that The Watchtower is publishing the opinion or expression of a man should not waste time in looking at it at all. Those who believe that God uses the Watchtower as a means of communicating to his people, or of calling attention to his prophecies, should study The Watchtower."
In other words: the haulers of water and the hewers of wood— viz: the rank and file —are not only expected to know what's in the Watchtower magazine, but they're also required to accept it as the God's truth.
● Col 1:15 . . He is the firstborn of all creation
The New Testament's Greek word for "firstborn" in that verse is prototokos, which never means created first; no, it always means born first. The correct Greek word for created first is protoktistos.
The average JW probably doesn't know the difference between prototokos and protoktistos; and no doubt would care little about it anyway. To some; born first and created first are essentially one and the same.
The thing to note is that "firstborn" doesn't always refer to birth order. The term also refers to pay grade, so to speak, and as such is transferrable from an elder sibling to a younger, e.g. Esau to Jacob (Gen 25:23) Manasseh to Ephraim (Gen 48:13-14) and Reuben to Joseph (Gen 49:3-4, 1Chr 5:1).
There was a time when David was God's firstborn (Ps 89:20-27). The position was later transferred to one of David's sons. You'd think that the Jews' religious experts of Jesus' day would have known about this.
● Matt 22:41-46 . . Now while the Pharisees were gathered together Jesus asked them: “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him: “David’s" He said to them: “How, then, is it that David by inspiration calls him ‘Lord,’ saying, ‘Jehovah said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet” ’? If, therefore, David calls him ‘Lord,’ how is he his son?”
Jesus was referring to Psalm 110:1, wherein we will find two very different Hebrew words for "Lord"'
The first is Yehovah (yeh-ho-vaw') a.k.a. Jehovah, Yhvh, and Yahweh; which is a name reserved for the one true God only and no other.
The second is 'adown (aw-done'); a very common title of respect for one's superiors in the Old Testament. Sarah revered her husband Abraham as 'adown (Gen 18:12) Rachel revered her dad Laban as 'adown (Gen 31:5) and Jacob revered his brother Esau as 'adown (Gen 33:8). So then; Psalm 110:1 can be translated like this:
"The utterance of Jehovah to my superior: Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet."
David is the paterfamilias of his own line of royalty, making him superior to all of his male progeny; none of them outrank him, all are his subordinates. But Ps 110:1 speaks of one of David's male progeny who somehow breaks the rules; and the Jews' religious experts were utterly baffled by it.
● Matt 22:46 . . And no one was able to answer him a word
The Jews' religious experts were no doubt aware, by means of their Old Testament studies, that the rank of firstborn can be moved around among siblings, but nobody even dreamed that a father's supremacy could be taken from him and given to one of his children; in effect making the child superior to its parents.
This was something strange to their Jewish way of thinking; yet there it is in black and white in their own scriptures. They had somehow failed to catch the significance of Ps 110:1 until Jesus drew their attention to it.
Now; the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy does not permit children to be superior to their parents.
● Ex 20:12 . . Honor your father and your mother
So then, Christ would have to outrank his father David by another route than family; and he does.
Renaming is fairly common in the Bible, e.g. Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Ben-oni to Benjamin, Simon to Cephas, and Rev 2:17. But with Christ, we encounter an astonishing renaming.
● Phil 2:8-11 . . God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (cf. Eph 1:20-21)
FAQ: What is "the name" that is above every other name?
FAQ: Is that the reason why Jesus outranks his father David?
A: Yes. Jesus has the God-given right to use Jehovah's
name as his own name; which allows him all the respect and reverence that
the name deserves; viz: failure to revere Jesus as Jehovah dishonors the name
of God the Father.
Below is the text of Col 1:16-17 quoted verbatim from the Watchtower Society's New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures ©1969.
"Because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist."
The word "other" is in brackets. This alert readers that "other" is not in the Greek manuscript; viz: the Society's translators took the liberty to pencil it in; which gives the impression that God's son was His first creation; and thereafter, the Son created everything else.
NOTE: I heard it from a JW that the Society's translators added "other" because that's what Col 1:16-17 means to say even though it doesn't say so in writing. In other words; that portion of the Society's Bible is an interpretation rather than a translation.
One day, a pair of Watchtower missionaries came to my door consisting of an experienced worker and a trainee. I immediately began subjecting the trainee to a line of questioning that homed in on the Society's rather dishonest habit of penciling in words that go to reinforcing its line of thinking.
I had him read the Society's text of Col 1:16-17 and then pointed out that the word "other" is in brackets to alert him to the fact that "other" is not in the Greek manuscript. The experienced worker corroborated my statement.
I then proceeded to have the trainee read the passage sans "other". It comes out like this:
"By means of him all things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all things and by means of him all things were made to exist."
The trainee's eyes really lit up; and he actually grinned with delight to discover that Col 1:16-17 reveals something quite different than what he was led to believe.
Had I pressed the attack; I would have pointed out that the Society is inconsistent with its use of the word "other" by failing to pencil it into John 1:3 in order to make it read like this:
"All [other] things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one [other] thing came into existence."
Now; as to tampering with Paul's letters, and forcing them to mean things they don't say in writing; this is what Peter has to say about that.
● 2Pet 3:15-16 . . Furthermore, consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given him also wrote you, speaking about these things as he does also in all his letters. In them, however, are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unsteady are twisting, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
NOTE: The 1984 revised version of the New World Translation omits brackets around the word "other" in Col 1:16-17. However, it's readily seen from the Watchtower Society's Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures that "other" is nowhere to be found in the Greek text. Caveat Lector.
● John 1:18 . . No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom position with the Father is the one that has explained him.
The Greek word for "only-begotten" in that verse is monogenes (mon-og-en-ace') which is also found in John 1:14, John 3:16, John 3:18, and 1John 4:9. It's a combination of two words.
The first is mono, which music buffs recognize as a single channel rather than two or four in surround sound stereo. Mono is very common; e.g. monogamy, monofilament, monotonous, mononucleotide, monochrome, monogram, monolith, monologue, monomial, et al.
The other word is genes; from whence we get the English word gene; which Webster's defines as a biological term indicating a part of a cell that controls or influences the appearance, growth, etc., of a living thing. In other words: monogenes refers to one biological gene set rather than many.
Monogenes always, and without exception, refers to parents' sole biological child in the New Testament. If parents have two or more biological children, none of them qualify as monogenes because in order to qualify as a monogenes child, the child has to be an only child.
Obviously then, an adopted child can never be monogenes because it wouldn't be the parents' biological child. Examples of monogenes children are located at Luke 7:12, Luke 8:42, and Luke 9:38.
So then, scientifically speaking, Christ is unique in that he is God's sole biological offspring, while God's other sons are not; viz: they're placed as sons, i.e. adopted. (Rom 8:15-16, Gal 4:4-6, Eph 1:4-5)
FAQ: God literally fathered a child?
A: I think it's probably a bit more accurate to say that God literally co-fathered a child.
FAQ: How did he do it? Is there a Mrs. God? And who was the other father?
A: Jesus' conception, described at Luke 1:26-35, wasn't only miraculous, it was a very mysterious collaboration of human and divine.
David contributed the human component. (Luke 1:32, Acts 13:22-23, Rom 1:1-3, and 2Tim 2:8)
God contributed the divine component. (Luke 1:35 and 1John 3:9)
Jesus then, is just as much God's progeny as he is David's; and just as much David's progeny as he is God's.
FAQ: What about Heb 11:17 where Isaac is stated to be Abraham's monogenes child? Wasn't Ishmael a biological child of his too?
A: Isaac is the only biological child that Abraham and Sarah produced together; just as Jesus is the only biological child that God and Man produced together.
To say that this is all very baffling, illogical, unscientific, and unreasonable would be an understatement. In my mind's normal way of thinking, Christ's rather odd case of mixed-species genetics is an outlandish fantasy that, biologically, makes no sense at all. It's sort of like crossing an iguana with an apricot to produce a reptilian fruit tree. But; the circumstances of Christ's conception are in the Bible, so those of us who call ourselves Christians have got to accept it.
"Faith is believin' what you know ain't so" (Mark Twain)
Now, here's the inescapable ramification:
Like reproduces its like. In other words, when David
reproduced, he fathered a human being like himself in every way. When God
reproduced, He fathered a divine being like Himself in every way; ergo:
Christ is just as much God as God, in the same way that Christ is just as
much David as David.
The Living God(s)
● Jer 10:10 . . Jehovah is in truth God. He is the living god.
The Hebrew word for "living" in that passage is chay (khah'-ee) which first appears in the Bible at Gen 1:20 where it speaks of aqua life and winged life. Then it appears at Gen 1:24 where it speaks of life on land. It appears again at Gen 2:7 where it speaks of human life.
Flora life is never spoken of as chay. So I think we can limit the kind of life spoken of by chay as conscious existence; viz: sentient life.
Jehovah is called the living god something like fifteen times in the Old Testament, and fifteen more times in the New.
I'm unaware of any other gods in the whole Bible identified as living gods; not even the people of Psalm 82 to whom God said "You are gods".
Because of that; I think it safe to conclude that no other god is a living god. In other words: labeling Jehovah as the living god is a way of saying He is the only god that's actually eternal, i.e. always was, always is, and always shall be. This has some serious ramifications because when speaking of Christ:
● Col 2:9 . . It is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily.
The Greek word for "divine quality" is theótes (theh-ot'-ace) which means: divinity
Seeing as how theótes is modified by the Greek definite article "ho" then what we're looking at here in Col 2:9 isn't nondescript divinity, but rather the divinity. In other words: we're looking at the fullness of the divinity of the living god.
Just about everybody on both sides of the aisle agrees that the Word spoken of at John 1:1 is a god. However: the Word isn't just any god; no, the fullness of the divinity of the living god dwells in the Word; viz: the Word is a living god, i.e. the life that's in the Word always was, always is, and always shall be.
● John 5:26 . . For just as the Father has life in himself, so He has granted also to the Son to have life in himself.
When the Father granted the Son to have life in himself just as the Father has life in Himself, things got a bit complicated because unless Jehovah and the Word are somehow different names for the same personage; there is now one too many living gods out there.
The Watchtower Society will never accept classical Christianity's teaching that Jesus Christ is Jehovah incognito simply because the Society's undying premise is that it is impossible for someone to exist as a spirit being and a human being simultaneously.
According to the premise: Jehovah's spirit existence would have to be terminated before He could become a human existence; and I can easily guarantee that nobody is ever going to convince the Society otherwise unless they first prove that the Word of John 1:1-4 is impervious to death. In other words; in order to prove to the Society that it's possible for a spirit being to exist as a human being simultaneously, it is necessary to prove to the Society that the Word is an everlasting life; which is a kind of life that cannot die. Fortunately it's very easy to do because the apostle John did that part for us in his first epistle.
● 1John 1:1-2 . .That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have viewed attentively and our hands felt, concerning the word of life, (yes, the life was made manifest, and we have seen and are bearing witness and reporting to you the everlasting life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us,)
The Greek word for "everlasting" in that passage is aionios (ahee-o'-nee-os) which essentially means perpetual; viz: without interruption.
The Word's human existence as per John 1:14 was as a mortal life and thus easily interrupted; but seeing as how the Word's spirit existence as per 1John 1:1-2 is an everlasting life, then it's impossible for the Word's spirit existence to be interrupted.
Jehovah cannot interrupt His existence as God because Jehovah is an everlasting life (Gen 21:33, Rom 16:26). In the same manner, the Word cannot interrupt his existence as the Word because the Word is an everlasting life too. (John 5:26, 1John 1:1-2)
The Word may have temporarily divested himself of his glory when he came to the earth to live and die as a human being, but he did not, and could not, divest himself of his spirit existence because in order to do that, he would have to die; which is an impossibility for everlasting life. If that were not so, then it would be possible to assassinate Jehovah. In point of fact, it would even be possible for Jehovah to commit suicide.
NOTE: According to chapter 1, verse 1, of John's gospel, the Word is a god. Well; seeing as how the Word is an everlasting life, then he's obviously an everlasting god too; viz: the Watchtower Society's religion has two everlasting gods in it, and both of those everlasting gods are credited with the creation of the cosmos with all of its forms of life, matter, and energy.
Precisely how an immortal life can exist simultaneously as a mortal life is one of the mysteries of classical Christianity that has to be taken on faith rather than reason because the 3-pound lump of fatty, flabby organic tissue housed in a man's bony little skull, and sufficing for a mind, is just too limited to get it; and not even all three of those pounds are devoted to cognitive processes.
The Last Adam
● 1Cor 15:45a . . The first man Adam became a living soul.
That verse refers to Gen 2:7, which reads like this:
"Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul."
The Watchtower Society alleges that Jehovah God wasn't directly involved in creating the first man, rather, His involvement was indirect. According to them, the actual work was done by the hand of a divine being called the Word.
"In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence." (John 1:1-3)
Seeing as how that's the case; then the breath of life spoken of in Gen 2:7 was blown into the first man's nostrils by the Word. In all respects then, we owe the beginning of the original human race to the Word just as much as we owe it to Jehovah God because both are given credit for its construction.
● 1Cor 15:45b . .The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
1Cor 15:45a speaks of Adam's origin, while 1Cor 15:45b speaks of Jesus' origin. In other words: Adam's existence began by the hand of God, whereas Jesus' existence began as the hand of God, which John 1:1-14 clearly attests.
The thing is: when the Word came into the world as a human being, he didn't relinquish his existence as a spirit being, viz: the creator-god spoken of in Gen 1:1 and John 1:1 remained the creator-god and that's simply because it is impossible for a real god to cease existing as a god-- a real god is immortal, i.e. it's eternal, viz: a real god always was, always is, and always shall be.
The Watchtower Society does not believe it's possible for a spirit being to exist simultaneously as an organic being, but the Bible totally disagrees.
According to John 5:26 and 1John 1:1-2, the Word is an everlasting life which, according to Gen 21:33 and Rom 16:26, is an indestructible category of life that's impervious to death. So the Word didn't go out of existence when he came into the world as an organic being; which means of course that Jesus Christ was an organic being and a life-giving spirit right from the moment of his conception; i.e. he was capable of giving life prior to his crucifixion, and certainly prior to his resurrection.
● 1Cor 15:47 . .The second man is out of heaven.
● John 6:38 . . I have come down from heaven
● John 6:42 . . They began saying: Is this not Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it that now he says: I have come down from heaven?
The dual nature of Christ's existence is a fatal hang-up for the Watchtower Society due to its spurious belief that it's impossible for the Word to exist as a human being and a spirit being simultaneously. But the evidence is very difficult to refute.
It ain't what you know that gets you into trouble.
It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.
— Mark Twain —
The Watchtower Society's theology is a based on a version called monolatrism, which basically alleges that all gods are actual deities; though not all deities are deemed worthy of worship. This is not quite the same as polytheism where numerous gods are all considered worthy of worship.
Monolatrism is distinguished from monotheism (asserts the existence of only one god) and distinguished from henotheism (a religious system in which the believer worships one god alone without denying that others may worship different gods of equal value)
While classical Christianity recognizes but two categories of gods: the true and the false, viz: the authentic and the imitation, the intrinsic and the artificial; the Watchtower Society's theologians took the liberty to create a third sandwiched between the true and the false called "mighty ones". The mighty-one category is a sort of neutral zone where qualifying personages exist as bona fide deities without violating the very first of the Ten Commandments. For example:
"I myself have said: You are gods" (Ps 82:6)
The gods referred to in that passage are humans; which everybody should know are only imitation deities rather than the genuine article; so in order to avoid stigmatizing humans as fake gods, the Society classifies them as mighty ones.
This gets kind of humorous when we plug "mighty one" into various locations. For example:
"In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a mighty one." (John 1:1)
"No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten mighty one who is in the bosom position with the Father is the one that has explained him." (John 1:18)
The "mighty one" category was an invention of necessity. In other words: without it, the Society would be forced to classify the only-begotten (John 1:18) and the Word (John 1:1) as a false god seeing as how Deut 6:4, John 17:3, and 1Cor 8:4-6 testify that there is only one true god.
POSIT: Jesus verified the authority of Ps 82:6 in a discussion recorded at John 10:34-36. If the word of God cannot be nullified, then those gods have to be real gods.
RESPONSE: Oh; they're real alright: real imitations because according to Deut 6:4, John 17:3, and 1Cor 8:4-6 there is only one true god. Therefore the gods in Ps 82 are artificial gods. True gods don't die; viz: they're immortal, impervious to death. The gods in Psalm 82 are not immortal.
So then, what does all this say about God's son? Well; if God's son is only a mighty one, as the Watchtower Society alleges; then he's an artificial god— i.e. a false god —and his divinity is no more divine in reality than a totem pole or a statue of Shiva.
POSIT: If true gods don't die, then Jesus is not a true god because he was mortal.
RESPONSE: If Christ's origin had begun only with Adam, then that conclusion would be 100% correct. However, I know from John 1:1-14 and Heb 3:3-5 that Christ's origin is an eternal being who not only pre-existed the first man, but also got him started.
I have thus far been unable to comprehend how it's possible for the eternal being who created the first man to then biologically descend from that very same man. It's easy to say that Christ is fully God and fully Man, but not so easy to make sense of it. It's just as difficult for regular Christians as it is for JWs.
FAQ: Why does the Watchtower Society translate the Word in John 1:1 as a god in lower case instead of God in upper case?
A: The Watchtower Society's translation is based upon an imaginary grammatical technicality.
The common Greek word for "god" is theós (theh'-os). When it's modified by the little Greek definite article "ho" the Society translates theós in upper case, viz: in the Society's theological thinking; ho theós pertains to the one true God, while theós by itself is somewhat flexible, for example John 1:18 and John 20:17 where the Society translates theós in upper case though it be not modified by ho.
However, according to Dr. Archibald T. Robertson's "Grammar Of The Greek New Testament", page 767: in regards to nouns in the predicate; the article is not essential to speech. In other words: when theόs is in the predicate, ho can be either used, or not used, without making any real difference.
So then; a translator's decision whether to capitalize either of the two theόs in John 1:1 or not to capitalize them, is entirely arbitrary rather than dictated by a strict rule of Greek grammar. Of course the Society prefers that the Word be a lower case god because it's agreeable with their version of Christ's divinity.
● John 20:28 . . Thomas said to him: "My Lord and my God!"
God and/or gods, is from the Greek word theós (theh'-os).
Many moons ago; I asked some Watchtower Society missionaries to explain to me why their Bible translated theós in upper case in Thomas' statement seeing as how in Watchtower theology; only Jehovah should be referred to as a god spelled with an upper case G. Well; they were too inexperienced to explain and my question left them stumped.
The fact of the matter is: in John 20:28, theós is modified by the Greek definite article "ho". So by the Society's own rules; its translators had to use upper case because it is their practice that whenever theós is modified by the Greek definite article, then the upper case is required.
For argument's sake; let's remove the upper cases and translate the passage like this:
Thomas said to him: "my lord and my god!"
We could tolerate a lower case lord because that was a common way to address just about any superior back in those days, whether divine or otherwise; for example 1Pet 3:6.
However; we would have difficulty with a lower case god because the passage is possessive. In other words: the apostle Thomas didn't just declare that Jesus was a god. No, Thomas clearly declared that Jesus was "my" god.
The covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with Jehovah in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy forbids them to possess more than one god.
● Ex 20:1-3 . . And God proceeded to speak all these words, saying: I am Jehovah your God, who have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves. You must not have any other gods against my face.
"against my face" is a combination of two Hebrew words that essentially refer to God's competitors. In other words: it is not Jehovah's wishes to have a market share of His people's affections; no, He'll settle for nothing less than 100%. (cf. Mark 12:28-30)
If the apostle Thomas was a Torah-trained Jew, then he was fully aware that possessing any other god but Jehovah would incur the covenant's curse upon himself.
● Deut 27:26 . . Cursed is the one who will not put the words of this law in force by doing them.
The way I see it: the Society has two options. Either the apostle Thomas knew what he was doing when he addressed Jesus as his god, or he meant to say something else.
Now, if the apostle Thomas knew what he was doing when he addressed Jesus as his god, then John Q and Jane Doe JWs need to ask around and find out why it is that Jesus Christ was the apostle Thomas' god but he isn't the Watchtower Society's god.
Plus: I would really like to know how it is that the apostle Thomas and the Watchtower Society are poles apart in their opinions of Christ's divine status when Thomas actually associated with Jesus and was one of his close personal friends.
● John 20:17 . . Be on your way to my brothers and say to them; "I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God."
FAQ: If Jesus is God, as classical Christianity claims, then how can he have a God? Does God worship Himself?
A: I have yet to encounter the language of John 20:17 in reverse, viz: I have yet to see a passage in the Bible where the Father refers to His son as "my God". The reason for that is very simple.
● Ex 20:12 . . Honor your father
● John 8:49 . . Jesus answered: I honor my Father
There's a hierarchy in the divine relationship just as there is a hierarchy in human relationships. Though all members of a human family are equally human, they are not all equal in rank and privilege; some are superior and some are subordinate. (cf. John 14:28, 1Cor 15:28)
The Watchtower Bible And Tract Society calls Jesus "the only-begotten son from a Father" (John 1:14). Don't let that mislead you. The Society dare not accept Christ's status as God's literal progeny because the ramifications would force them to revise their theology.
The Society also calls Jesus "the only-begotten god" (John 1:18). Well; If the true God were to beget a god, wouldn't that god be the true God like its father?
For simplicity's sake; it helps to think of the true God as a species; viz: if indeed the true God were to beget a child, He would beget a child of like species; i.e. the true God would beget the true God, like Himself, because that's the only kind of offspring that the true God could possibly engender; just as when a true human begets a child, they beget a child of like species i.e. they beget a true human being like themselves because that's the only kind of offspring that a true human can engender.
Now, we can volley back and forth with JWs, countering each other's verses with more verses: verse upon verse; but I can just about guarantee that us and they will both be chasing our tails and getting nowhere until they agree to approach the Son's relationship to his Father from a biological perspective; which is a perspective that just about anybody with even a cursory knowledge of the birds and the bees can understand with ease.
FAQ: How can the true God be two of Himself out there when even Jesus plainly declared there is only one true God? (John 17:3)
A: The Bible also declares that there is only one Man.
In the beginning, when God created the Man species, He created it male and female; i.e. two persons. But the two persons do not represent two Mans. There is only one Man though the species can be spoken of with a plural pronoun.
● Gen 1:27 . . And God proceeded to create the man in his image, in God’s image He created him; male and female He created them.
After God created Adam, he then proceeded to construct Eve from Adam's body rather than create her from the soil as before. That way, Eve retained Adam's humanness rather than be given a unique humanness of her own, viz: Eve was in Adam and he was in her, i.e. Eve perpetuated Adam.
In a similar manner— though no doubt quite a bit more complicated —God's son is in God, and God is in His son. i.e. the Son perpetuates the Father just as Eve perpetuated Adam.
Passport To The Kingdom Of God On Earth
It's both tragic and ironic that the Watchtower Society's rank and file missionaries go worldwide advertising a kingdom that they themselves will never be allowed to enter. Here's why.
At John 3:3-12, Christ discusses what he labels "earthly things".
The primary earthly thing discussed was the kingdom of God. The other earthly thing discussed was a Spirit-birth requirement to enter it. In other words: God's kingdom on earth, and a Spirit birth, are joined at the hip.
The overwhelming majority of JWs coming to our doors aren't Spirit-born now, nor do they ever expect to be— not in this life, nor in the next —yet they sincerely believe they have a shot at admission to God's kingdom on earth. However, seeing as how the Spirit-birth requirement is a must rather than an option; they will not succeed.
Many of the Jehovah's Witness missionaries going door-to-door throughout the world are honestly, and sincerely, wanting to enter the kingdom of God; which is why I'm convinced that Christians really ought to know something about New Testament hope before engaging JWs in a conversation about the kingdom.
● 1Pet 3:15 . . Always be ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you,
The New Testament Greek word for "hope" in Peter's instructions is elpis (el pece') which means to anticipate (usually with pleasure) and to expect with confidence. Note the elements of anticipation, and expectation, and confidence.
In other words: elpis hope is a know-so hope rather than a cross your fingers hope.
So, unless someone knows for proof-positive, beyond even the slightest glimmer of sensible doubt, that they have a passport to the kingdom of God locked in and irrevocable, then of course it is impossible for them to comply with Peter's instructions seeing as they would not yet have the kind of hope about which he wrote.
● Rom 12:12 . . Rejoice in the hope.
When people are praying for the best, while in the back of their mind dreading the worst, they have absolutely no cause for rejoicing; but they do have plenty of cause to fear the unknown.
Elpis hope is one of the three principal elements of Christianity (1Cor 13:13). It's also a calling. (Eph 4:4)
When people are lacking the kind of hope described by the Greek word elpis, then I believe it's safe to assume that they have not yet responded to God's call; or worse, He has not called them; and quite possibly never will.
Jehovah vs Jehovah's Witnesses
● John 14:16-17 . . I will request the Father and he will give you another helper to be with you forever, the spirit of the truth, which the world cannot receive, because it neither beholds it nor knows it. You know it, because it remains with you and is in you.
● John 14:26 . .The helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.
Rank and file JWs are taught to believe that they obtain boldness in speaking the word of God, and zealousness in engaging in the work of witnessing, from "having" the holy spirit. (pg 382, Reasoning From The Scriptures)
However; when speaking of "having" the holy spirit, the JWs mean that it is alongside them rather than inside them. Only a special guild of 144,000 JWs actually have the spirit inside them. The special guild are known as the anointed class; a label taken from 1John 2:27.
The non-anointed class are in a very serious condition. Here's why:
● Rom 8:9 . .You are in harmony, not with the flesh, but with the spirit, if God's spirit truly dwells in you.
Seeing as how God's spirit does not truly dwell "in" John Q and Jane Doe missionary, then they are, by default, in harmony with the flesh. That only makes things worse.
● Rom 8:5-8 . . For those who are in accord with the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those in accord with the spirit on the things of the spirit. For the minding of the flesh means death, but the minding of the spirit means life and peace; because the minding of the flesh means enmity with God, for it is not under subjection to the law of God, nor, in fact, can it be. So those who are in harmony with the flesh cannot please God.
The non-anointed class' situation is just too ironic for
words. They displease God, and He displeases them; yet they go door-to-door
sincerely believing themselves Jehovah's friends and allies.
● 1John 2:26-27 . .These things I write you about those who are trying to mislead you. And as for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to be teaching you; but, as the anointing from him is teaching you about all things, and is true and is no lie, and just as it has taught you, remain in union with him.
The anointing provides people with some valuable advantages to which people who lack it of course have no access.
1• Protects people from deception
2• Enables people to grasp Jesus Christ's teachings the way he wants them grasped
3• Makes it possible for people to remain in union with him.
According to Watchtower Society theology, only 144,000 special Jehovah's Witnesses have the anointing. There aren't that many living Witnesses who have the anointing though because when anointed Witnesses die, their passing doesn't create vacancies; viz: 144,000 is the maximum unless an anointed JW either apostatizes or is ousted via the process of disfellowship.
NOTE: Ironically, one of the anointing's primary purposes is to prevent its recipients from becoming an apostate.
What that means is: the vast majority of today's living JWs don't have the anointing. We're talking about some serious numbers here. Currently, there are approximately 8.2 million living Witnesses. Even if all 144,000 anointed Witnesses were alive today, that would leave 8,056,000 JWs roaming the earth in our day who 1) have no protection from deception, 2) are unable to grasp Jesus Christ's teachings the way he wants them grasped, and 3) not in union with him.
Doubtless there are numbers of ordinary Witnesses who sincerely believe that their association with the Watchtower Society keeps them in union with Jesus Christ; but according to 1John 2:26-27, union with Jesus Christ isn't accomplished on the coattails of an organization; it's accomplished by means of the anointing.
Watchtower Society missionaries sincerely believing themselves in union with Jesus Christ without the anointing are each themselves "one of those who are trying to mislead you".
The Elite 144,000
So-called Replacement Theology is just another name for identity theft. Take for example the Watchtower Society's interpretation of Rev 7:1-8 wherein is listed a specific number of Hebrews taken from every tribe of the sons of Israel.
The Society claims that those aren't biological sons of Israel; but rather "spiritual" sons— referring of course to the Society's elite cadre of 144,000 Witnesses who have supposedly undergone a spirit birth as per Christ's instruction at John 3:3-8; and the anointing as per 1John 2:26-27.
The Society's claim is premised upon its observation that there never was a tribe of Joseph; when in reality Joseph is listed as both a son and a tribe (Gen 49:2-28 and Ezek 48:31-34). So that portion of the Society's reasoning is clearly a false premise.
The Society's claim is also premised upon its observation that Ephraim and Dan are missing from the list of tribes at Rev 7:4-8. However, what the Society's theologians have somehow overlooked in the Old Testament is that it doesn't matter whose names are chosen to represent the twelve tribes of Israel just so long as there are twelve names. Are there twelve in Rev 7:4-8? Yes. Well then that's good enough. I realize that makes no sense but then the Lord's apostles were still referred to as "the twelve" even with Judas out of the picture. So that premise in the Society's reasoning is spurious too.
The Society's claim is also premised upon its reasoning that Levi isn't a valid tribe based upon the fact that the Levites are exempt from warfare. However, Levi is clearly listed as both a son and a tribe (Gen 49:2-28) plus Ezek 48:31-34, which is a good many years after Num 1:1-54. So that premise is bogus too.
The Watchtower Society not wanting the 144,000 to be biological Hebrews is one thing; but I would just like to know from whence Charles T. Russell's and Joseph F. Rutherford's followers got the idea that their people constitute the 144,000. That's a pretty serious claim. How do they validate it? I don't know; but I can just about guarantee that their explanation is an outlandish stretch of the imagination consisting of humanistic reasoning, rationalizing, spiritualizing, clever sophistry, and semantic double-speak.
NOTE: According to Rev 14:1-4, the 144,000 are supposed to all be males, and none have ever slept with a woman. That, if true, would of course disqualify married JWs.
The Faithful And Wise Steward
● Matt 24:45-47 . .Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to YOU, He will appoint him over all his belongings.
The core of the Watchtower Society— the Governing Body —sincerely believes itself the faithful and discreet slave spoken of in that passage, i.e. believes that God chose the leaders of the Watchtower Society as His sole distributor of truth to mankind; thus explaining why John Q and Jane Doe Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that they need to submit unquestioningly to the Governing Body in order to associate with God, and for protection from doomsday, viz: the calamities depicted in the book of Revelation.
"That faithful slave is the channel through which Jesus is feeding his true followers in this time of the end. It is vital that we recognize the faithful slave. Our spiritual health and our relationship with God depend on this channel." (Watchtower, 2013 Jul 15, p.20)
"We need to obey the faithful and discreet slave to have Jehovah’s approval." (Watchtower, 2011 Jul 15, p.24, Simplified English Edition)
"[A mature christian] does not advocate or insist on personal opinions or harbor private ideas when it comes to Bible understanding. Rather, he has complete confidence in the truth as it is revealed by Jehovah God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and "the faithful and discreet slave." (Watchtower, 2001 Aug 01, p.14)
According to the above: rank and file JWs are being taught that it's essential to comply with the Governing Body's teachings. However; at the same time they are warned that the Body's teachings cannot be assured that they are either inspired or infallible.
"The Governing Body is neither inspired nor infallible. Therefore, it can err in doctrinal matters or in organizational direction. In fact, the Watch Tower Publications Index includes the heading “Beliefs Clarified,” which lists adjustments in our Scriptural understanding since 1870. Of course, Jesus did not tell us that his faithful slave would produce perfect spiritual food." (paragraph 12, under the heading; "Who is leading God's People today?" of the Feb 2017 Watchtower--Study Edition)
Just imagine the degree of confusion and insecurity that would pervade the minds of regular Christians had the authors of the New Testament scriptures attached a caveat to their writings similar to the above.
Matters Of Conscience
Some of the Watchtower Society's ethics rub people the wrong way. For example they don't celebrate birthdays, observe Christmas, participate in Halloween, serve in the military, nor allow blood transfusions.
Their feelings about special days are protected by the fourteenth chapter of Romans so it would be extremely unchristian to criticize them on that front.
Their feelings about blood transfusions appear tenable from the passages below.
● Gen 9:3-4 . . Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you. As in the case of green vegetation, I do give it all to you. Only flesh with its soul— its blood —you must not eat.
● Lev 7:26-27 . .You must not eat any blood in any places where you dwell, whether that of fowl or that of beast. Any soul who eats any blood, that soul must be cut off from his people.
● Lev 17:10-14 . . As for any man of the house of Israel or some alien resident who is residing as an alien in your midst who eats any sort of blood, I shall certainly set my face against the soul that is eating the blood, and I shall indeed cut him off from among his people.
● Acts 15:19-20 . . Hence my decision is not to trouble those from the nations who are turning to God, but to write them to abstain . . from blood.
The Society construes those passages to imply that transfusing blood is all the same as using it for food.
Rather than get into a semantic quarrel with the Society over its interpretation of those passages; I suggest another tact. And our purpose is not to win a debate; only to offer a second opinion.
The Jews' sabbath law is very narrow. In point of fact, the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God imposes capital punishment for sabbath violators. (Ex 31:14-15)
Now, that is very interesting because Jesus broke the sabbath on a number of occasions, and when doing so based his actions upon the principle that human life, safety, and welfare trump strict observance of religious law.
One of the best illustrations I've seen of a die-hard legalist was a cartoon showing a man behind the wheel of his car stopped at a red light while huge landslide boulders are within seconds of crushing to death him, his family, and the family dog. While his wife and children shriek in mortal panic, the legalist calmly points out that he can't move the car until the light turns green.
Legalists typically refuse to accept the possibility of extenuating circumstances, which Webster's defines as: to lessen, or to try to lessen, the seriousness or extent of by making partial excuses; viz: mitigate.
Although it's illegal to run red lights, those boulders rumbling down the hill to crush the man's family to death unless he moves the car, are an acceptable excuse to go before the light turns green. In those kinds of cases, human life, safety, and welfare trump strict conformity to the law.
Compare Ex 1:15-21 where Jewish midwives lied through their teeth in order to save the lives of little Jewish boys. Did God punish the midwives for the sin of lying? No, on the contrary; He overlooked their dishonesty and instead rewarded the midwives' actions with families of their own. In point of fact, their actions were adjudged as fearing the true God. (Ex 1:21)
Should someone reading this section chance to discuss blood transfusions with a JW from Christ's sabbath perspective; I urge them to go about it with the utmost in civility because this is an emotional issue. Should your JW audience come to the realization that they've made a monstrous mistake, they will be overwhelmed with guilt, disillusion, and humiliation; not to mention fear of the organizational tsunami that'll come their way should they dare to question the Society's stance on blood transfusions.
According to John 8:29, 2Cor 5:21, Heb 4:15, and 1Pet 2:22; Jesus Christ committed no sins of his own. The Watchtower Society is of the opinion that Christ didn't sin because he "chose" not to sin. In other words: he could've failed, he could've sinned.
That's what they say; but it's not what the Bible says. The fact of the matter is; Christ's divine genetics made it impossible for him to sin.
● 1John 3:9 . . Everyone who has been born from God does not carry on sin, because His [reproductive] seed remains in such one, and he cannot practice sin, because he has been born from God.
That translation makes it look as though one born of God's reproductive seed sins now and then but not all the time; viz: doesn't make a habit of sin. But the text on the Greek side of the Society's Kingdom Interlinear reads like this:
"He is not able to be sinning because out of God he has been generated."
● Col 2:9 . . It is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily.
The Greek word translated "divine quality" is theotes (theh-ot'-ace) which means divinity; defined by Webster's as the quality or state of being divine.
I don't mean to split hairs but the order of those words in a sentence makes a difference: divine quality and the quality of being divine are not the same. For example: patience is a divine quality, but people capable of patience aren't eo ipso divine. So let's get that straightened out right from the get-go.
Anyway; what we're looking at in Col 2:9 isn't nondescript divinity; rather, "the" divinity; viz: we're looking at God's divinity; which I think pretty safe to assume is impeccable. I seriously doubt even the Devil himself could fail and/or sin were he brimming with not just a percentage; but with all the fullness of God's divinity.
FAQ: If it was impossible for Christ to either sin or fail; then what practical purpose did his temptation serve?
A: Christ testified "I always do the things pleasing to Him" (John 8:29). The Devil's failure to break Christ certifies the truth of his statement. In other words: Christ was proof-tested to demonstrate that he contains no flaws.
No doubt the Devil expected that after forty days in the outback without food, Christ would be worn down to the point where he would no longer care whether he sinned or not. But it made no difference. Christ was still just as incapable of sin after forty days in the outback as he was during the first thirty years of his life in Nazareth because Christ's innocence didn't depend upon his resolve; rather, upon his genetics so to speak; viz: upon God's [reproductive] seed. (1John 3:9)
While we're on the subject: what is the one thing God cannot do? Well; the JWs' conditioned response is that God cannot lie (Heb 6:18). But a better response than that is God cannot sin. In point of fact: it is just as impossible for God to sin as it is for His progeny to sin. I mean; think about it. If God's progeny is unable to sin due to the fact that out of God he has been generated; then it goes without saying that the God out of whom he was generated would be unable to sin too; viz: if God's reproductive seed is unable to sin, then obviously the source of the seed would be unable to sin too.
● Jas 1:13 . . For with evil things God cannot be tried.
NOTE: The Watchtower Society religion is a bit of an odd duck in the world of Christianity. While most, if not all, of the other denominations seek to glorify Christ; it seems the Society's primary mission in life is to tear him down.
A very common Greek word in the New Testament for the Devil is diabolos (dee-ab'-ol-os) which refers to traducers; defined by Webster's as someone who exposes others to shame or blame by means of falsehood and misrepresentation; i.e. slander. Whether the Watchtower Society is deliberately or inadvertently misrepresenting Jesus makes no difference: the point is they are, that's what matters.
The Fig Tree
● Mark 11:12-13 . .The next day, when they had come out from Bethany, he became hungry. And from a distance he caught sight of a fig tree that had leaves, and he went to see whether he would perhaps find something on it. But, on coming to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season of figs.
FAQ: If Jehovah really was in the world as a man, then why didn't He know by omniscience that the fig tree would have no fruit? Why was it necessary for Him to examine it up close in person?
A: Jesus was able to observe things from a distance. (John 1:48)
Jehovah's conduct in Mark 11:12-13 would've been unusual but by no means uncharacteristic.
In the 11th chapter of Genesis, the people built themselves a tower. Jehovah came down to see the tower. Now, if Jehovah is omnipresent and omniscient, then why bother coming down out of heaven to inspect the tower in person?
In the 18th chapter of Genesis, Jehovah announced to Abraham that He was on a journey to visit Sodom in order to determine whether the reports He was hearing about the city were true or not. Again: if Jehovah is omnipresent and omniscient, why bother coming down out of heaven to visit Sodom in person?
In the 22nd chapter of Genesis, Jehovah had Abraham offer his son as a sacrifice made with fire. At the conclusion of the event; a celestial being— speaking for Jehovah and speaking as Jehovah —said: "Now I do know that you are God-fearing in that you have not withheld your son, your only one, from Me."
It goes without saying that Jehovah knows every man's thoughts, and He also knows the future, viz: nothing we do, say, or think catches Jehovah by surprise; He sees everything. So then, if Jehovah already knew in advance that Abraham would offer Isaac, and already knew in advance that Abraham was God-fearing, then why did He say "now I know"? Shouldn't Jehovah have already known?
The only sensible answer to those questions, including the question about the fig tree, is that there is a humanness to God that began quietly coming to light all the way back in the very beginning of the Bible; but the New Testament is where we see God's humanness on display even more.
● John 1:18 . . No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god, who is in the bosom position with the Father, is the one that has explained him.
"explained him" is accurate enough but doesn't really say it right— "revealed him" is much better.
● John 14:7 . . . If you men had known me, you would have known my Father also; from this moment on you know him and have seen him. Philip said to him: "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him: "Have I been with you men so long a time, and yet, Philip, you have not come to know me? He that has seen me has seen the Father also.
FAQ: Well then, why didn't Jesus use his divine powers to make that tree produce fruit for him to eat right then and there on the spot instead of cursing the poor thing?
A: Isn't that similar to the Devil's reasoning in the 4th chapter of Matthew?
The fact of the matter is: Jesus was micro-managed. He cursed that fig tree in compliance with his Father's wishes to do so.
● John 6:38 . . I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me.
● John 8:28 . . I do nothing of my own initiative
● John 8:29 . . He that sent me is with me; He did not abandon me to myself, because I always do the things pleasing to Him.
● John 10:30 . . I and my Father are unified
● John 14:10 . . Do you not believe that I am in union with the Father, and the Father is in union with me?
In the end; Jesus had to examine that fig tree up close and personal because it was on his God-given itinerary to do so.
FAQ: In standard Bibles; Jesus told one of his fellow prisoners that they would be in paradise the very day of their deaths (Luke 23:43). But three days later he told Mary Magdalena that he had not yet ascended to his Father (John 20:17). How do you reconcile Jesus' statements?
A: Well, of one thing we can be very certain: when Jesus died, he didn't go up; quite the opposite direction: he went down. (Matt 12:40, Ps 16:9-10, and Acts 2:25-31)
Paradise is structured such that its elements exist in more than one place. For example: a city park system consists of any number of parks located in any number of places, yet each individual park can still be correctly called a city park.
For another example; the Pacific Crest Trail (a.k.a. PCT) traverses the north/south length of three states— California, Oregon, and Washington. No matter where trekkers might be located on the trail at any given moment— whether south at mile No.1 in Campo San Diego, or 2,140 trail-miles to the north at Cascade Locks Oregon —they're all on the very same PCT regardless of which State they happen to be passing thru.
Paradise is sort of like that. There's a section of it in the netherworld (Luke 16:19-31) another in a secret region called the third heaven (2Cor 12:2-4) and yet another situated with God. (Rev 2:7)
Solomon vs Jesus
Some of Solomon's remarks in the book of Ecclesiastes appear to conflict with Christ's teachings in the New Testament. Well; the answer to that is actually pretty simple.
According to 2Tim 3:16, Solomon was inspired to write Ecclesiastes, but the catch is: his comments essentially represent a world view— a philosophy of life under the sun —rather than a book of either history, revelation, or prophecy.
In other words: Solomon's observations are limited to the scope of empirical evidence and human experience; a perception of reality moderated by what we can see for ourselves going on around us in the physical universe rather than the spiritual— which is at least one of the reasons why Ecclesiastes appeals to cultists, atheists, and agnostics, et al.
Solomon's world view is punctuated with pessimism; which is basically a mindset inclined to dwell on the negative in human experience rather than the positive. For example:
"You only go around once, so do it with all the gusto you can get!"
That was a Schlitz beer slogan some years ago. It's worldly wisdom thru and thru rather than Christ's. Compare it to a couple of Solomon's remarks:
● Ecc 9:5 . . The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.
● Ecc 9:10 . . All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol, the place to which you are going.
That wisdom reflects Schlitz beer wisdom, i.e. it's earthly wisdom rather than the wisdom that comes from above.
Solomon was a very wise man; in point of fact, the brightest intellectual of his day. But Solomon's knowledge and experience were limited. He didn't know everything there is to know, nor had he seen everything there is to see, nor been everywhere there is to go. Whereas Christ's knowledge is extremely vast.
● Col 2:3 . . Carefully concealed in him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.
Christ, in his capacity as the Word, created everything existing in the current cosmos.
● John 1:3 . . All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.
So then, it only stands to reason that Christ would know more about the afterlife than Solomon because the Word has actually seen it for himself, whereas Solomon didn't see anything beyond the grave when he penned Ecclesiastes.
A good rule of thumb to apply when the teachings of Solomon and Jesus contradict each other, is to keep in mind that Jesus is Solomon's superior, viz: Jesus' teachings trump Solomon's.
● Matt 12:42 . .The queen of the south will be raised up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, but, look! something more than Solomon is here.
● John 3:31 . . He that comes from above is over all others.
And Jesus comes highly recommended too.
● Matt 17:5 . . This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved; listen to him.
So then, when encountering remarks in the book of Ecclesiastes that are out of step with Jesus' teachings in the New Testament; my unsolicited spiritual counseling is to ignore the Jehovah's Witnesses take on Ecclesiastes and go with the wisdom of "my Son".
● John 8:12 . . I am the light of the world. He that follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.
Of Mice And Men
The passage below from the Watchtower Society's bible is deliberately misquoted. Watch for it.
● Ps 146:3-4 . . Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day he loses awareness.
The actual passage says "his thoughts do perish".
The Hebrew word for "thoughts" in that passage is 'eshtonah (esh-to naw') which means thinking rather than awareness.
Unfortunately, Ps 146:4 is the only place in the entire Old Testament where 'eshtonah appears so we can't compare its uses in other contexts.
According to Webster's the word "thinking" is ambiguous with quite a variety of meanings to choose from; including, but not limited to: concerns, anticipations, conceptions, opinions, imaginations, visualizations, ideas, epiphanies, plans, schemes, fantasies, arguments, aspirations, deliberations, and the like.
For the rich man in Jesus' parable at Luke 12:16-20; I would choose ideas, plans, and schemes.
For example: consider all those people who perished in the World Trade Center, and in the Japan and Indonesia tsunamis, and the Haiti earthquake. None of them woke that day planning on it being their last on earth. No, on the contrary; they had people to see, places to go, and things to do: but before the day ended; whatever was on their itinerary lost its importance— their priorities went right out the window and became no more significant than green cheese on the moon.
All their plans, their dreams, their schedules, their appointments, their schemes, their problems, their ambitions, their loves, and their aspirations went right down the tubes as they were suddenly confronted with a whole new reality to cope with.
So then, an alternative to the Watchtower Society's interpretation is that people don't cease to exist when they die, nor do they lose awareness; no, Ps 146:3-4 only means that whatever was on their minds before they passed away is now null and void.
Take for example Michael Jackson. While working on a new world tour, Jackson died in his sleep. As a result; his tour wrapped on the spot.
When my eldest nephew was paroled from prison, he quit drinking, and began going to college with the goal towards becoming a counselor. For 2½ years all went well. His parole officer was happy, and he was on track and getting good grades. My nephew's future looked assured. And then on the morning of Sept 25, 2015, he dropped dead to the floor of natural causes.
My nephew's passing was a terrible disappointment to everybody; but actually we all kind of expected it. He was grossly overweight, had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, rarely exercised, and smoked. But the point is; my nephew's dream ended just as abruptly as flipping a light switch. And all of our hopes for his success ended the same way, viz: our thoughts perished right along with his.
Death is the mortal enemy of human ambitions. It often casts its long shadow when they set about planning their lives. The Scottish poet Robert Burns noticed that life sometimes throws a curve ball that makes all your careful preparations strike out instead of getting you on base.
He was working one day plowing in the field and uprooted a mouse's underground nest who was all set for the oncoming winter. The mouse had picked a fallow field as the site for its winter retreat thinking it would be safe and snug; unmolested during the cold. But it didn't (or maybe we should say it couldn't) know the workings of powers higher than itself— in this case, farmers and their machinery.
Mousie, you are not alone in proving foresight may be vain.
The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew,
And leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy.
Jonah & Christ / Sheol & Hades
If we're not careful with the story of Jonah, the time element can become a red herring while the real issue— the issue that matters most —is Jonah's death and resurrection.
● Matt 12:39-40 . . As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth.
Christ's statement should be accompanied by this next passage so there's no mistaking what he was talking about.
● John 2:18-22 . . Therefore, in answer, the Jews said to him: “What sign have you to show us, since you are doing these things?”
. . . In answer Jesus said to them: “Break down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Therefore the Jews said: “This temple was built in forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?”
. . . But he was talking about the temple of his body. When, though, he was raised up from the dead, his disciples called to mind that he used to say this; and they believed the Scripture and the saying that Jesus said.
● Jonah 1:17 . . Jehovah appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, so that Jonah came to be in the inward parts of the fish three days and three nights.
FAQ: Was Jonah alive in the fish?
A: Yes. (Jonah 2:1)
FAQ: The whole time?
A: No; and in point of fact; unless Jonah was deceased at some point, then his adventure would relate very little of any real significance to Christ's death, burial, and resurrection.
FAQ: So you think Jonah died in the fish?
A: Jonah 2:5-7 strongly suggests that he drowned prior to being swallowed by the big fish; which fits perfectly with the fact that Jesus was dead before his body was entombed; viz: neither man was buried alive.
Jonah's prayer from within the fish speaks of a prayer that he prayed while drowning, and also about a prayer that he prayed while incarcerated in sheol; a total of three prayers; each one prayed from three separate locations and under three different circumstances: in the sea, in sheol, and in the fish.
At some point in his nautical adventure Jonah went to a place called sheol (Jonah 2:2) which he sited at the roots of the mountains. (Jonah 2:6)
Well; the roots of the mountains aren't located in the tummies of fish, no; they're located down deep in the Earth. So, the only way that Jonah could possibly be at the roots of the mountains while in the belly of a fish at the same time was for the man and his body to part company and go their separate ways.
And then there's Jesus . . .
● Matt 12:39-40 . . As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth.
Now when you think about it; Jesus' corpse was never in the heart of the Earth. It wasn't even in the Earth's soil. His corpse was laid to rest on the surface of the Earth in a rock-hewn tomb.
So the only way that Jesus could possibly be in a tomb on the surface of the Earth while in the heart of the Earth at the same time; was for the man and his body to part company and go their separate ways.
Just before being cast ashore, Jonah prayed thus:
● Jonah 2:6 . . But out of the pit you proceeded to bring up my life, O Jehovah my God.
The Hebrew word for "pit" in that verse speaks of putrefaction.
The very same Hebrew word is located in Ps 16:8-10 which Acts 2:25-31 verifies is speaking of putrefaction; viz: Jonah 2:6 tells of the prophet's flesh just as Ps 16:8-10 and Acts 2:25-31 tell of Christ's flesh. In other words: Jonah 2:6 tells of Jonah's resurrection; which is precisely the sign that Jesus intended at Matt 12:39-40.
So then, just as Jonah's soul was not left at the bottoms of the mountains, Christ's soul was not left in the heart of the earth. And just as Jonah's body was not left to decompose in the fish, neither was Christ's body left to decompose in the tomb. And just as Jonah came back from his grave within three days and nights, so Jesus came back from his grave within three days and nights.
If none of this were so, then Jonah's experience would be a pretty useless parallel to Christ's.
FAQ: What does the story of Jonah have to do with Jehovah's Witnesses?
A: JWs are taught to believe that human life is entirely physical; viz: when people die they cease to exist. Well; were that belief a reality; then Jesus Christ would've ceased to exist when he passed away on the cross.
Jonah's experience is handy for illustrating Jesus' experience; viz: if Jonah existed at the bottoms of the mountains while his flesh lay deceased in the tummy of a fish, then Jesus existed in the heart of the Earth while his flesh lay deceased in a tomb.
Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites and also a sign to Jesus' generation (Matt 13:39-40, Luke 11:29-30). The word "sign" is translated from a Greek word that's sometimes used in the gospels to indicate miracles.
Had Jonah stayed alive in the fish's tummy, that would not be the kind of sign that Jesus had in mind. He needed a miraculous event that would adequately depict his own; the reason being that Jesus' flesh was on track to be returned to life. (John 2:19-21)
Jonah, coupled with Ps 16:8-10, Acts 2:25-31, and Matt 12:39-40 proves that Jesus continued to exist out of body when he passed away; and if he and Jonah did, then there's reason to expect that everyone else does too.
If Jesus Christ's resurrection is true— if his crucified dead body actually recovered just as Jonah's— then Jesus most certainly is the one man in the New Testament that everybody really ought to approach with a great deal of caution because Jonah's message warned of the impending destruction of just one city; while Jesus' message warns of the impending destruction of many cities. (Rev 16:17-19)
● Matt 12:41 . . Men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; because they repented at what Jonah preached, but, look! something more than Jonah is here.
Fiction can be defined as stories about people, places, and events that, though untrue; are plausible; viz: realistic.
Fantasy can be defined as stories about people, places, and events that are not only untrue; but implausible; viz: unrealistic.
For example: a story about a wooden boy like Pinocchio is unrealistic; while a story about a boy with autism is realistic. The difference between Pinocchio and the autistic boy is that the one is compatible with normal reality; while the other is far removed from normal reality.
I have yet to read even one of Jesus Christ's parables that could not possibly be a real-life story. They're all actually quite believable— banquets, stewards, weddings, farmers sowing seed, pearls, lost sheep, fish nets, women losing coins, sons leaving home, wineskins bursting, tares among the wheat, leavened bread, barren fig trees, the blind leading the blind, et al.
Now; if Christ had told one that alleged the moon was made of green cheese; we would have good reason to believe that at least that one was fantasy; but none of none of them are so far removed from the normal round of human experience that they have no basis in reality whatsoever. No; there's nothing out of the ordinary in his parables. At best; Christ's parables might qualify as fiction; but never fantasy.
Luke 16:19-31 is commonly alleged to be a parable; which of course implies that the story is fiction; and some would even say fantasy. But the parable theory has a fatal flaw. Abraham is not a fictional character: he's a real-life man; the father of the Hebrew people, held in very high esteem by at least three of the world's prominent religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And he's also the friend of God (Isa 41:8).
I simply cannot accept that Jesus Christ— a man famous among normal Christians for his honesty and integrity —would say something untrue about a famous real-life man; most especially a prophet and one of his Father's buddies.
And on top of that, the story quotes Abraham a number of times. Well; if the story is fiction, then Jesus Christ is on record testifying that Abraham said things that he didn't really say; which is a clear violation of the commandment that prohibits bearing false witness.
Abraham was also a prophet (Gen 20:7) which means he was an inspired man. As such, he would be privy to information that would normally be unavailable to the average rank and file pew warmer. However prophets aren't meant to keep what they hear from God to themselves; they're messengers, e.g. Abraham was a teacher/mentor. (Gen 18:19)
So then, I think it's fairly safe to assume the information that Abraham passed on to the rich man came to Abraham via inspiration; which, if so, means that our reaction to his remarks should be very different than the rich man's. He brushed aside what Abraham told him; but we, I should hope, are wiser than that impious dunce because we know that a prophet's teachings are the voice of God.
There is something else to consider.
The story of the rich man and Lazarus didn't originate with Jesus Christ. No, it originated with his Father. In other words: Jesus Christ was micro-managed.
● John 3:34 . . He is sent by God. He speaks God's words
● John 8:26 . . He that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him.
● John 8:28 . . I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught me.
● John 12:49 . . I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
● John 14:24 . .The word which you hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent me.
So, by alleging that Luke 16:19-31 is fiction/fantasy, the parable theory slanders God by insinuating that He's a person of marginal integrity who can't be trusted to tell the truth about people, not even about His own friends, which is ridiculous seeing as how Titus 1:2 and Heb 6:18 testify that God cannot lie.
God's impeccable character is what makes that narrative all the more terrifying. Unless somebody can prove, beyond a shadow of sensible doubt, that Christ's Father is a tale-spinner; I pretty much have to assume Luke 16:19-31 was drawn from real-life; and if not drawn from real life, then at least based upon real life.
In other words: there really is an afterlife place of conscious suffering where people endure unbearable anxiety worrying their loved ones are on a road to where they are and there is no way to warn them; similar to the survivors of the Titanic watching their loved ones go to Davy Jones while utterly helpless to do anything about it.
People for whom I feel the most pity are parents that brought up their children in a religion whose pot at the end of the rainbow is filled with molten sulfur instead of gold. How do people bear up under something like that on their conscience?
The Watchtower Society argues that the account of the metemorphe (transfiguration) found at Matt 17:1-9 showed Jesus' true angelic form, proving his ability to materialize a human form at will. Oh?
According to the Society's own doctrines, it is impossible to exist as a spirit being and a human being simultaneously. Now this is important to note because in order for Jesus to exist in human form, his angel form had to be terminated. So at the time of the transfiguration, Jesus' human form was his true form, viz: if anything, the transfiguration would prove not his ability to materialize himself as a human, rather, as an angel.
Had Jesus Christ undergone a change of nature in the transfiguration scene, he would have also undergone a change of name, but at no time during the event was he ever referred to as Michael; instead, throughout the event continued to be referred to as Jesus; which is his human name.
During the event, a voice from heaven identified Jesus as "my beloved son". According to the first chapter of the letter to Hebrews, God has never taken an angel as either His son or His heir.
All three of the synoptic gospels report the transfiguration event as a preview of the future kingdom; which, according to Heb 2:5-8 will be ruled, managed, and supervised by human beings rather than by angel beings.
Ergo: in order for Jesus to rule the kingdom as a human being, his human body would have to be restored to life because a materialized human body is not human; it's an avatar.
This presents a knotty problem for the Society because according to its teachings, Jesus' body cannot be restored to life. It has to stay dead and cached away somewhere on the earth in order to remain an effective sacrifice for the sins of the world. The Watchtower Society's rather curious claim is located on page 237 of the April 15, 1963 issue of the Watchtower magazine; which reads:
"If Jesus were to take his body of flesh, blood, and bones to heaven and enjoy them there, what would this mean? It would mean that there would be no resurrection of the dead for anybody. Why not? Because Jesus would be taking his sacrifice off God's altar."
NOTE: All the first covenant's sacrifices were removed from the altar, none were allowed to remain, not even their ashes. And besides, "God's altar" wasn't the earth; it was the cross, from which Jesus' body was removed the very afternoon of his death.
I'm a fan of a very bright woman named Marilyn vos Savant. She pens a weekly column in the Sunday paper's Parade Magazine. Her tested IQ is somewhere in the 200 range. Marilyn received a question that goes like this:
FAQ: Our family has been arguing about this: If a person makes a statement, and another person challenges it; who has the burden of proof?
A: Usually the person who makes an affirmative statement (defined as a statement that asserts a fact, makes an allegation, or favors an action; etc) has the burden of proof. America's justice system is an example. The prosecution (or the plaintiff, as the case may be) rather than the defense, must prove its case to the jury. Failure to prove it's case, requires that the defense be exonerated.
In other words: when the Society makes a claim like the one on page 237 of the April 15, 1963 issue of the Watchtower magazine; it has a moral obligation to substantiate it because it is not incumbent upon the Society's opponents to prove its claims are false.
No, it is incumbent upon the Society to prove its claims are true; and they should never be given a green light to do it by rationalizing, nor by humanistic reasoning, semantic double speak, and/or clever sophistry; no, they have to show it not only from scripture, but also in scripture. They claim that Jesus' crucified body is still deceased. If that claim cannot be shown from scripture, and in scripture, then sensible jurisprudence demands their claim be thrown out of court as spurious fiction.
The fact of the matter is that had Jesus morphed into an angel; the sacred text would say so; but it doesn't; indicating that the Society has gone and done something very common with cultists like Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Herbert W. Armstrong, David Koresh, and Jim Jones: it has forced the Bible to mean things that it does not say in writing. According to 2Pet 3:15, people might just as well put a gun to their heads when they do that.
JW POSIT: It is impossible for Jesus Christ to be in heaven as a human being in the presence of God because 1Tim 6:16 says that the king of all kings dwells in an unapproachable light, whom "not one of men" has seen or can see.
RESPONSE: The Greek word translated "unapproachable" also means inaccessible; which right there attests that humanity needs a mediator between itself and the light to provide them at least an indirect access.
Note that the passage below is misquoted. Watch for the revision.
"There is one God, and one mediator between God and men; an angel: Christ Michael." (1Tim 2:5)
No, that passage doesn't actually say "an angel" nor does it actually say "Christ Michael". Here it is for real.
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men; a man: Christ Jesus."
The Greek word for men, as well as the word for man, is derived from anthropos (anth'-ro-pos) —a common Greek word for human beings in the New Testament.
So it's readily seen from a cursory examination of the Greek that the mediator spoken of in 1Tim 2:5 is a human being rather than an angel.
Seeing as how Christ Jesus is allowed access to the inaccessible light as a human being, then it's safe to conclude that there has to be something very unusual about him.
Well; for one thing, his body is no longer that of mortal men. When he went up to heaven, Christ Jesus' body underwent a miraculous transformation. It's still human, that we know, but its chemistry is unlike any human body on Earth. (1Cor 15:50-53)
For another, Christ Jesus is not only human, but also divine (John 1:1, John 1:18, and Col 2:9). That alone would surely be enough to grant him some special privileges, and it does. For example: the angel Gabriel stands in the presence of God (Luke 1:19) while Christ Jesus the man is seated. (Ps 110:1, Col 3:1)