Ryan here again. Lately I have been getting hammered with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Do you remember the Jehovah’s Witnesses I let in my door that while back? They returned just a few weeks ago, not to come in and visit, but only to drop off a copy of the Watchtower magazine which featured a story about a Mormon guy who converted to be a Jehovah’s Witness. I found the situation, and the story in the magazine, to be more comical than anything, but I’ve no doubt that they will follow up and return. It will be an interesting conversation.
That’s not the end of my Jehovah’s Witness experiences of late.
On Jan. 5, 2013, lady JWs were patrolling our neighborhood and came up to our house. One of them was a younger Asian woman and the other was a middle-aged Latino woman. It seemed that they had no idea that I had already been tracted out by other JWs months earlier. The Asian woman gave the door approach, saying that they were going around talking to people, asking them what God’s name is. Then she asked me if I knew what God’s name was. [Note that stuff in square brackets were not part of the conversation, but I’ve added them into this email for the convenience of the people reading].
I said, “Well, I don’t believe the same as you do: you believe that Jehovah is the Father, and I believe that Jehovah is Jesus Christ.” This was met with a disappointed, “Oh.”
Then the older Latino lady asked me what scriptures say that Jehovah is Jesus Christ. I told her that there are several and gave her two examples right on the spot. I said, “Isaiah chapter 43, from which you get the name of your religion [Isa. 43:10], indicates that Jehovah is the only Savior [Isa. 43:11]. But in the New Testament, in Acts chapter 4, it says that Jesus is the only savior [Acts 4:10-12].” I went on, “And in the Old Testament, it says that Jehovah was the I AM [Ex. 3:14], and in the New Testament, Jesus referred to himself as I AM [John 8:57-58]. Jehovah is Jesus; they’re the same.” The Latino lady tried to say that Jesus referred to himself as I AM because his Father (whom they believe is Jehovah) gave him his power and authority, but not because he was Jehovah. Pretty weak argument, I thought.
The Latino lady brought up Col. 1:15 where it says that Jesus was the firstborn of every creature (although she said first “created”). She then said that Jesus was created by the Father. I said that I agreed. (At the time I wasn’t sure why she brought that scripture up. But in looking back on things, I think that she was assuming that I believed in the common idea of the Trinity – wherein the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are considered one Person). At every instance where they brought up a scripture, I provided for them the scriptural reference (i.e. Book and chapter, sometimes with the verses) before they had a chance to reference it themselves. I wanted them to know that they were dealing with someone who had more than a vague understanding of the Bible.
To further establish that Jesus was Jehovah and not merely the Archangel Michael as the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach, I said that, “In John chapter 1, it says that Jesus was God [John 1:1-2]. In your Bible, it says that he is ‘a god,’ which is also true, because both the Father and the Son are Gods.” For this scripture, they have another strange interpretation, and tried to say that Jesus was a god like his Father, but that he wasn’t Almighty God (and I guess, not a God in the same sense as God?). I said that Jesus has the power of his Father and that they are both Almighty and are both Gods.
The Latino lady then asked me, “So if Jehovah is the name of the Son, then what is the name of the Father?”
“Elohim,” I said.
“…And where do you get that from?” She queried.
“From the Prophet Joseph Smith,” I said. Then I proceeded to tell them about how God has revealed himself anew in modern times by calling a prophet, mentioning Malachi 3 where God said he would send his messenger before the Second Coming of the Lord. I quoted Amos 3:7 and explained that that is what God does – call prophets. Neither of them had any clue about who the Prophet Joseph Smith was. I went and got a Joseph Smith pamphlet and showed them the pictures, explaining the First Vision.
As soon as the Latino lady saw the picture of the Father and the Son appearing to the Prophet, she said, “But how could he see the Father and the Son if they are the same person?”
“I didn’t say that,” I said. I’m not sure how she got confused with that. It was also very hard to explain the Godhead to this woman because she absolutely could not comprehend the idea of Jehovah not being the Father, even after I had already said that I believe that Jehovah is Jesus, and the Father is Elohim. She saw two Gods and wasn’t getting how Jehovah couldn’t be the Father.
I explained how God gave revelation and new scripture to the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was at that point that they, of course, tried to claim that there cannot be any additions to the Bible. At first the Latino lady cited 2 Tim. 3:16 which says that all scripture is good. I pointed out the obvious: that nothing in that scripture says that there cannot be new revelation. It is insufficient to prove her point. She then brought up the old Rev. 22:18-19 rigmarole – the famous ‘don’t add to or take away from the prophecy of this book’ scripture – and I explained to her that that scripture plainly refers to not adding to or taking away from the Book of Revelation itself, and not the whole Bible, as 1) at the time John wrote that there was no Bible compiled, 2) John wrote his Gospel afterward, 3) Moses wrote the same thing in Deut. 4:2. Should we throw the Bible out after Deut. 4?
I said, “John wrote Revelation to the seven churches in Asia [Rev. 1:4]. So when they received this letter from him, and saw that it said, ‘don’t add to or take away,’ [Rev. 22:18-19] do you think that they would have said to themselves, ‘Oh, that must clearly be making reference to the Bible, which we have no concept of, and which will not be compiled for another 300 years’?” I then pointed out the “prophecy of this book” mentioned in Rev. 22:18 was making reference to “the words of this prophecy” [Rev. 1:3], or the Book of Revelation itself. I told them that their interpretation of Rev. 22:18-19 makes no sense at all.
The Latino lady brought up Heb. 1:1-2 and tried to say that this meant there would be no more prophets. I said there was nothing in the scripture which indicated that, and that the Lord actually promised elsewhere that he would send his messenger before his Second Coming (Mal. 3:1). I also said that Malachi said that the Lord would send Elijah before his Second Coming as well. Then I told them that Elijah appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1836. At this they both laughed. It may be because everything coming from me was Joseph Smith this and Joseph Smith that, but I felt no embarrassment at all by their levity. I felt only pity.
At some point the Latino lady asked me, “Well then, what do you need to do to be saved?” Wondering what my beliefs were about that.
That can be a tricky question, because the full answer includes the ordinances of the temple, which can be difficult to explain from the standpoint of using only the Bible. And so I said, “Well, first you need to get baptized, and then you need to receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands…” She was nodding in agreement at what I was saying, until I finished my sentence, “by one who is authorized, having the priesthood authority from God.” That’s where I lost them. I went on to explain that a person cannot simply assume to have the authority to lay on hands, but that they must have the same priesthood authority of the ancient apostles. I then told them that I have the same priesthood given to the apostles and which is mentioned in Hebrews chapter 7, because Peter, James, and John appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and gave him the priesthood, and he gave it to others, and so on.
Then the Latino lady asked me, “When you baptize someone, are they are priest?”
“If you ordain them to be a priest,” I said. I’m not sure why the question was significant to her.
The Latino lady said something to the effect that they believe that the Bible is the only word of God. I told them that it’s fine if they want to believe that, but that they could not justify that belief by the scriptures they were using (which was what they were trying to do). I asked them, “Why not be open to new revelation from God? Who are we to put limits on him and say that he cannot reveal more than he already has?”
The Latino lady said, “Well, I’m not saying that he can’t…”
“But when you say that the Bible is all there can be, you’re putting limits on God, that he cannot reveal anymore,” I said. I challenged them again to show me where it’s indicated in the Bible that God won’t reveal any more scripture.
The Latino lady tried to say again that based on the scriptures I already rebutted, the Bible said that it was all sufficient (Jehovah’s Witnesses go around in circles a LOT), and that she doesn’t think that God would reveal any more. I said, “You do not WANT him to reveal more. That’s what it is. It’s not that he won’t, or that he can’t, it’s that you don’t WANT him to.”
The younger Asian woman for a long time was trying to cut off the conversation and end things, but I kept pushing things. It was quite a bit more argumentative than my recent JW conversations, unfortunately. Some of that blame falls on me, but I suspect not all. I tried to get them to accept the Joseph Smith Pamphlet but they refused. The Latino lady said, “We would not read it.”
I said, “Why not? I’ll take yours if you take mine. I’ll read yours if you read mine.” Referring to the pamphlet I said, “It’s not going to bite ya!” But they wouldn’t.
Eventually the Latino lady said something like, “Well, we just wanted to share with people what the Bible says, and you seem to be familiar with the Bible, so we’ll go.”
I concurred, “Yes, I know what the Bible says.” And I also wished them well.