Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. It’s a pleasure to be with you here yet again, week after week. This is episode 47 so we’ve almost made it through a full year, every week bringing you some content in some form or another, whether it’s from a conference talk that I’ve done or from a standard show like this here in the studios. The only apologetic ministry based in West Chicago, Illinois as Chris also likes to say. Chris. You also say something like internationally…
Chris: The only international apologetics podcast broadcast from West Chicago.
Kurt: That’s good. Today we’ve got a great show for you. We’re going to be continuing on with our worldview series and the first Saturday of each month we are trying to bring you a worldview topic just to help enrich you and to increase your knowledge about the different worldviews out there. Not necessarily because a religion because sometimes worldviews go beyond their philosophies. Worldview kind of encompasses both religions and philosophies. Today we are going to be talking about a religion though, but before we get to that, let me make just a couple announcements. If you’re watching the livestream here you might see my eyes a bit dilated. I was at the eye doctor so if my eyes look a little freaky, that’s because of that and so I actually was weed whacking, this is one of those lessons you learn through experience, was weed whacking the lawn and a rock popped up and hit me in the eye. Doctor says I’ll be okay, but next time I should wear goggles. That’s kind of that rule of thumb. Of course you never see anybody do it, but now you learn the hard way so, that’s what the Book of Proverbs is about. It’s about people learning the hard way and so they’re here to teach you so that you don’t have to learn the hard way. Read the book of Proverbs. Great book.
I do have one announcement here. Let me get on over to it, and before I can reach it let me remind you if you want to call into the show today right now, if you’re following us on the internet or on Facebook here, the livestream. You can call in. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483. That’s the call-in number. You can also text me. Text the word VERACITY to 555-888 and I’ll be seeing your text messages through our program. If you just want to say hi. If you’ve got a question today about Jehovah’s Witnesses, we’d be happy to entertain that question or in general, just send me a message throughout the week if you’re thinking about the show or some guest you want to bring on. The announcement that I’ve got for you today is a conference that we are putting on, not in Chicagoland actually, this is the first time Defenders Media is extending its wings outside of Chicagoland. We’re going to Kalamazoo, Michigan. We’re going to be having the Deeper Roots Conference, September 8 and 9, and so we’d love it if you wanted to come and join us for that event, September 8 and 9. That’s a Friday. Really we start Friday night and then all day Saturday. We’d love it if you wanted to come join us. We’ve got Tim McGrew and J. Warner Wallace as the plenary speakers. A number of breakout speakers. Lydia McGrew, myself, Tom Gilson with The Stream. We’ve got Rob Bowman and a couple others and so it’s going to be a great opportunity. If you want to learn about that you can head to our website, defendersmedia.com, and so I think Chris has the image there on the livestream. You can see our logo there that we’ve made for the conference this year. It’d be great if you wanted to join us again, September 8 and 9, the Deeper Roots conference. It’s a program of the Library of Historical Apologetics, which is one of the ministries that we work with, and we’re partnering up with them to bring this conference to you. It’s going to be at Lighthouse Community Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and again if you want more information just go to Defendersmedia.com.
Well, that does it for the main announcement, and now to the main portion of the show. This is really why everyone’s tuning in of course. They want to learn about Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I think of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I often associate it with Mormonism because it’s an American religion and it’s also a, if you will, a cult of Christianity and so to look through these issues, we have brought in a guest who has many years of experience in dealing with these issues so Don Veinot is the president of EMNR which is the Evangelical Ministries to New Religions, and he’s also the president of Midwest Christian Outreach Incorporated. Don. Thank you so much for joining us here in the studio today.
Don: Well, I’m glad that you have me here and I’m sure by the time we’re done I’ll know I’ve been had.
Kurt: Thanks. Before we jump in to discussing and learning about Jehovah’s Witnesses and the history and their beliefs, tell us a little bit about what you’re doing with both of these organizations.
Don: Okay. Midwest Christian Outreach was officially started in 1995. My wife and I had been doing ministry to Jehovah’s Witnesses since the late 1980’s really. I had become a Christian shortly after my son was born and as I was learning about the faith, she by and by ran into some Jehovah’s Witness in all of things, a bowling league, wanted to reach out to them and my wife, once she’s a woman on a mission my best bet is to just hang on for all I’ve got and see where I can help because she’s going to carry it out so she started reaching out to Jehovah’s Witness women and we just fell in love with trying to reach them. In 1995, we officially started Midwest Christian Outreach primarily to reach Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Don: It was fairly soon though, just within months really, where people started calling us on other groups. At that time, it was the Boston Church of Christ was the first one. Atheism was another one. Eventually Mormons and other groups. Joyce said she would do Jehovah’s Witnesses and I would do everybody else. That’s how Midwest Christian Outreach kind of got us started. There were about a dozen of us that started it up in the Chicago area. It became more or less a general apologetics mission and we produced a general pretty regularly. We have now our website and our crux eletter that goes out every Thursday morning, you can sign up on our website for that, which has a variety of things. It links you to our blog that we do and stuff like that.
Kurt: And how can people get a hold of the journal here?
Don: They can just go to our website and email us. Send us your mailing address and we’ll put on for that. While they’re there they can sign up for our eletter and get the crux and we’ll always have fun with that and we’ve tried to include jokes and whatever because our philosophy is we take what we do seriously. We try not to take ourselves seriously. You’ve seen some of that.
Kurt: Sure. Yes.
Don: We too have a webcast. It’s live every Tuesday night. It’s called the Unknown Webcast. Our sponsors are all make-believe sponsors though.
Kurt: Nice. And is that on YouTube?
Don: That is on YouTube live. You can go to our YouTube channel and subscribe to that.
Kurt: And there’s a link at the website for that.
Don: There’s a link at the website for that.
Kurt: Tell us about EMNR then.
Don: Evangelical Ministries to New Religions was started in 1989 actually by a number of apologists as a way to help sort of small mom and pop ministries. You had academic sort of organizations, but where do smaller missions or ministries to cults go to share information, have accountability, and that sort of thing. That’s why EMNR got started. Gordon Lewis, the late Gordon Lewis, was instrumental in it. Walter Martin I think was part of the first meeting that they had and a number of others. It started in Rockford, Illinois. It is a consortium of ministries like ours that hits a variety of groups. Some are primarily Mormonism like Mormon Research Ministries, Bill McKeever. Primarily it does Mormonism. Haven Ministries out of Denver does primarily New Age and that sort of thing. We are more generalists. Washington Fellowship does cults in general. It’s a pretty good collection of groups.
Kurt: Yeah. I know you just had that conference in April.
Don: We did.
Kurt: End of April and I was there. You had just a variety of different issues that you were addressing and it’s sort of great. You called it new religions. It just deals with sort of new, in some sense they’re new, in other senses of course they’re not new. Some of these ideas are very old and the church fathers dealt with heresies of the same sort. Let’s get into that a little bit. We want to talk about Jehovah’s Witnesses today and first tell us a little bit. I think Watchtower is based in New York City, but how did it all get started?
Don: Well Charles Taze Russell was a couple of things. He didn’t really like the idea of Hell, and I don’t like the idea of Hell either, and he was presbyterian and he couldn’t figure out a way to really defend it and that started him on a track away from the church. Secondly, he was very enamored of end times speculations. That was pretty popular at that point in history. You had of course the prognostications of William Miller, that the world was going to end in the 1840’s. Of course, it didn’t. Out of that you had another movement called the Second Adventists, and Charles Russell ran into them by the name of Nelson Barbour and they started publishing together. In fact, Russell was a haberdasher, basically a clothier kind of a guy. Multi-millionaire, sold all his businesses and they started publishing The Midnight Cry and Herald of Christ’s Presence. Then they had a falling out and he went on to start the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society which was a colporteur group. Now most people today won’t even know what that means, but you didn’t have family bookstores. You didn’t have Christian publishing industries really at that time. What you had was Bible salesmen that went door to door and sold religious literature. That’s what they did. Charles Taze Russell was part of that. Moody Bible Institute did the same thing actually and so colporteuring was a way to get out what you believed about God and market religious literature. That’s how the society began. He was also caught up in occult practices. Pyramidology for example. He believed that the pyramids were God’s stone witness and so he went about measuring the passageways and then trying to confirm his 1914 dates based on that. He believed that Christ was invisibly present in order to become visibly present in 1914 and the world would have this tribulation period and go into the millennial kingdom at that point. He didn’t like the idea of Hell which then leads to another idea, because if there is no Hell, what happens after you die? He kind of bought into the idea of the Seventh-Day Adventism was teaching which was soul sleep. You die and your soul goes to sleep and then you wake up and your soul comes back alive basically. That’s how he dealt with that idea and what he demonstrates is one heresy leads to another heresy. Because yours are fixing problems that you create when you abandon Biblical teaching. 1914 was approaching. If you read his books, they’re really interesting. Even a year before people were asking him if he’s going to change his date and he said, “No. These are God’s date. Not ours.” And then 1914 came and went, nothing happened. He changed it to 1915. Nothing happened. He changed it to 1916 and for him it did end. He died on Halloween night on a train in 1916. After that, a couple of years after that, there was a lot of shenanigans politically. Judge Joseph Rutherford took over and really reshaped the society as it is today in many ways. The door to door work began in earnest at that point. Early on they celebrated like Christmas for example, anniversaries. Under him, all of that changed.
Kurt: No holiday celebrations. No birthday celebrations.
Don: But there’s a reason for that most people don’t realize.
Don: If you’re going door to door to sell literature, when are you most assuredly going to find people at home?
Don: Holidays. So it was a sales decision for him, but then he wrapped it up in religious literature. Obviously, that celebrating Christmas is a pagan festival and we don’t want to be involved in paganism.
Kurt: Which a lot of orthodox Christians also for some reason believe as well. That’s kind of interesting.
Don: It is and what’s unfortunate, and that’s what makes these kinds of subjects sometimes difficult, is for most people, history began about eighteen minutes ago.
Kurt: No. That’s quite right. A lot of people don’t appreciate or learn from history and even orthodox Christians, they think all I need is the Bible, but they’re just neglecting 2,000 years of theological reflection.
Don: And debate.
Kurt: Yeah. Right.
Don: Theological reflection and debate and as you pointed out earlier, most of the heresies that we are fighting today are heresies that were fought 1,700 years ago. These are not new things. Sometimes it’s a problem of redefinition of verbage which is what we see happening at the Council of Nicea for example. The question that they were dealing with about at that council, whether Jesus was God or not, was oddly enough a new question.
Kurt: For them. Right.
Don: Because up until that point they had believed Jesus was God. That wasn’t a problem. They were battling with the Gnostics over whether Jesus took on human form.
Kurt: And also one of the challenges that the church fathers dealt with was how to communicate these ideas that they read about in the Scriptures and to make them succinctly. For example, the word Trinity is not in the Bible. That comes from at least, if my memory is serving correctly, Tertullian I think first used the term Trinitas.
Don: Right. Second century.
Kurt: But of course, that doesn’t mean that the Bible doesn’t support the Trinity. In fact, we think it does because it’s an idea that we find in the Scriptures so we expound that out.
Don: And so Jehovah’s Witnesses, that gives you a kind of brief overview of how they got started and what they do is, as you point out, they’ll say the word Trinity isn’t in the Bible, and in a sense it’s a straw man argument. You’re right. It is supported in Scripture. The word is not there, but when they float that out there our tendency is to try to defend rather than ask another question. So, I really like questions. I live in the world of ideas. I think they’re fun to play with and so I might point out when they tell me that, do you realize the word grandfather is not in the Bible? Does that mean there’s no such thing as grandfathers? Do you realize, and then I’ll come up with a few other things, nuclear fission is not in the Bible? Does that mean there’s no such thing as nuclear fission? There’s a lot of things that are not in the Bible. That doesn’t mean…
Kurt: Like New York City.
Don: Yeah. New York City. Electricity. There’s lots of things that are not in the Bible that are nonetheless true.
Kurt: It’s almost like taking one of the five solas of the Protestant Reformation, at least reflecting back to be more accurate, reflecting back on the Protestant Reformation, we see five solas. One of those five is Sola Scriptura, Scripture alone. What’s often implied, the real meaning is Scripture alone is the final authority. It’s not Scripture alone is the only authority because if we think Scripture’s the only authority for things we can know, then like you said, we can’t know that there’s electricity, grandfathers, nuclear fission, or New York City, and that’s of course a huge problem. We can discover truths outside of the Scriptures. We just need to make sure that the truths we discovered are held in check by Scriptural teaching.
Don: Right. And the Scripture alone as to faith and practice, not as to math or science.
Kurt: Yeah. Good. The Scripture just doesn’t simply address matters that we would address today.
Don: It’s a jurisdictional question and so Scripture doesn’t have jurisdiction over math problems. It doesn’t really have jurisdiction over science problems. It’s not anti-science, but it’s not a book about science. You’re right. We make a mistake when we appeal to that and you find other groups, the Church of Christ kind of goes that way, no creed but Christ. They don’t seem to recognize that that in itself is a creed.
Kurt: And Baptists can sometimes be the same way too, that they’re not creedal, but it’s a creed.
Don: Right. That’s a creed. If they have a statement of faith, that’s a creed, so you almost can’t get around it. So the big argument at the Council of Nicea then became was Jesus God only because they hadn’t defended that before. It wasn’t believed. It was assumed. And the Trinity was just a basic underlying belief so it didn’t need to be codified. The big battle if you read the early church fathers was over the humanity of Christ and so now we have this new heresy creep up and they had to do battle over how do we defend the deity of Christ. And so that’s what happened at the Council of Nicea. The Jehovah’s Witnesses key in on that and as many, in fact, we’ll be doing, on our webcast, we’re going to be doing an upcoming show on the 27th with H. Wayne House on the Council of Nicea. What happened there? What was that all about? It’s important because, as you point out, many Christians want to point back to that and go, “Even they had trouble with holiday keeping. Even they had trouble with trying to explain the deity of Christ and the Trinity,” and Constantine was this big evil ogre who invented Christianity as we have it today. That’s because for them, history started eighteen minutes ago.
Kurt: They haven’t looked into it. That’s right. We do have a question from someone online. I want to get it to later though so Kyle, thank you for your question and we’ll be sure to get to that before the show’s over today. We’ve been given a brief history of Jehovah’s Witnesses and we’ve looked at how it is that this really isn’t anything new, but what exactly are the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses? What are some of their core doctrinal, shall I say, differences between orthodox Christians?
Don: I want to address that, but I need to say something else first.
Kurt: Sure, and I know we could be here all afternoon too.
Don: We could be, but this is something I always feel like I need to do early on because we have this idea that if we can give all of the right doctrinal answers and use their material to do so, they’ll believe. My good friend, the late Jhan Moskowitz, co-founded Jews for Jesus, he was one of our board of advisors, and we would have him speak at a conference. He would start out with this line almost every time. “I don’t like apologists.” In a roomful of apologists it got their attention right away. They all sat up straight to figure out, “What is he going to say next?” and he would say, “Because they think if they give the right answers someone will believe, but faith is an act of the will and not a function of information.” Information is involved, but you choose to believe. Why do I say all of this? It’s because when you’re talking to the Jehovah’s Witness, one of the things you want to know early on is “Why are they a Jehovah’s Witness?” If you don’t ask that question, if you don’t get to that….
Kurt: If you sort of just jump into it.
Don: Then you’re going to spin your wheels arguing about things that maybe aren’t important to them or not helpful to them. If they became a Jehovah’s Witness because they never had friends before, then talking about the doctrine of the Trinity is just not going to be helpful. If they are a Jehovah’s Witness because they were asking big life questions and the church they were part of us was mean with them, then talking about the end times is probably not going to be helpful. So why are you a Jehovah’s Witness? Were you born into it? Did you choose to become a Jehovah’s Witness later in life? What was going on in your life at the time? I’m interested, and you need to actually be interested because they will give you a lot of information that can be helpful down the road.
Kurt: It’s a great reminder that while we want to win arguments, we want to win the person, and so if you just think, “Oh I just want to win this argument”, but you’re not winning the person, then you’re not only doing apologetics, but you’re doing evangelism the wrong way, because we’ve got to win over people. We need to love people, so we’ve got to make sure we’re doing that.
Don: And a lot of pastors are afraid of apologists for that reason. We will argue at the drop of a hat, notice my hat, and we’ll drop the hat. We live in the world of arguments. We just think that they’re fun, but the average person doesn’t like that sort of conflict and so for many pastors we have heartless apologetics and bindless evangelism going on.
Kurt: That’s a good way of phrasing it.
Don: We want to knit those two together. We want apologetics that comes from the heart because people matter to God and we want our mind engaged so that we know how to give the right answer. Now having said that, what are the basic beliefs of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, and I need to emphasize that, because when we’re talking to an individual and a group, even though Jehovah’s Witnesses are pretty much lockstep in their beliefs, it is better, and more accurate to talk about the beliefs of the Watchtower rather than their personal beliefs, because if we make an assertion about what they believe we could be wrong. They may be somebody who has a doubt on a particular issue. It’s rare, but it does happen, and so talking about the official positions of the Watchtower is much better and then we can use their material to do so. Having said that, their basic view is that Jesus is a god, not the God. He’s a created being. He was created as Michael the archangel, who then created everything else. He ceased to exist. God then created a human named Jesus, who then was crucified and according to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, dead, forever dead, and then He created Michael the archangel in Heaven, and so to a Jehovah’s Witness though, that seems to make perfect sense. It is just Jesus in different offices or performing different functions. They don’t realize the disconnect between the three actual creations and so sometimes I use their teachings on what we refer to as the cloning of Jesus rather than a resurrection of Jesus. You have to use their material to do that, so that’s one thing.
Kurt: Before I get into the next one, is Jesus a created figure here?
Don: He’s a created being who in turn created everythinge else. There are ways to deal with that directly. One of the ways I would suggest is not John 1:1. I know everyone loves to go to John 1:1.
Kurt: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
Don: There’s two problems with this. One is that it could be translated, the Word was a god. It could be translated that way, but that would make John a polytheist, not a monotheist. The second problem which is perhaps a bigger problem is you usually have two people, the Christian and the Jehovah’s Witness, arguing over how the Greek should be translated and neither one can read Greek.
Kurt: Unless you’re an educated Christian in these areas, you’ve gone to seminary or something, but you’re right, the vast majority of Christians don’t read Greek.
Don: Then you’re into
the battle of experts. Who’s expert can we rely on? I always say John 1:1 is a
fabulous verse, but go back to it later. There’s other verses like John 1:3.
John 1:3 really answers the question of what does John 1:1 mean because John
1:3 says that “By Him” that’s by Jesus, “All things were created
and without Him not even one thing was created.” I take a piece of paper
and I draw a line down the middle and I write creator on one side and created
on the other side and I say, “Which side do I put Him on?”
Kurt: He can’t be a created being…
Don: Because He can’t create Himself. He can’t not exist and exist at the same time. He can’t not exist and then exist to create Himself into existence. It doesn’t really work. He can only be the creator or the created. He can’t be both.
Don: John 1:3, in their own translation, is much better, and one they haven’t really heard of. There’s other passages we can go to with that. If we have time we’ll look at a couple of them. Jesus is a god, not the God. Be aware of that because when you talk with a Jehovah’s Witness and you say “You don’t believe Jesus is God,” their comeback will be “Of course we do. He’s a god. Not the God.” Now the Christian is sort of caught off guard. They don’t know what to do next. Number two. Salvation is organizational. You must be part of God’s organization to have the possibility for eternal life.
Kurt: This would be very similar to, last week we were just talking to Rob Bowman about the Hank Hanegraaff converting to Eastern Orthodox. Very similar to the Eastern Orthodox or Catholic view of the, “You’ve got to be part of the visible church. Right?” Same concept here, but they would call it salvation by organization or something like that.
Don: They don’t call it that, but that’s how it works itself out. You see, Jehovah’s Witnesses in these areas are not as sophisticated as you might think, because this sort of, like most Christians, a lot of Jehovah’s Witness beliefs come by osmosis. It just sort of seeps into them by things the Organization says in roundabout ways. Their official teaching is that God only uses an organization and if you said, “Can you be saved apart from the Organization?” they would probably say, “It’s possible. We just don’t know of anybody.” But they do teach that salvation is organizational.
Kurt: Gotcha. We’ve got to take a break here Don, but we’ll be sure to continue this after the short break from our sponsors.
Kurt: Alright. Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, you can just go to our website, veracityhill.com/patron and whether you’ve got an ad or you just want to become one of our supporters, there are different options there available to do that. We’d love to get your support and part of the, let me just take a moment here and talk about this, part of our long-term vision is to bring this podcast into a radio, a formal radio ministry, so we’d love to get going in different parts of the country so if you want to have Veracity Hill on a local radio station, let us know because we’d love to connect with you, we’d love to work with you to help reach out to other people that can help bring that radio ministry into reality. As much as you want to keep supporting us, that’ll go towards that long-term goal that we have and I hope that you’ve been edified by what we’re doing here, by talking about issues from a variety of perspectives, and doing so can help bring some intellectual humility along with certainty at the same time, depending upon the issue that you might feel more confident about. Alright. I’m here with Don Veinot and we are discussing Jehovah’s Witnesses. We’re talking about that religion, the history, the doctrine, the creeds, and before the break we talked about two positions that they hold, that Jesus is sort of just a created being, that Jesus is a god, not the God, but also to that salvation comes by being organized basically. You’ve got to be part of the group which gives you a chance so it’s sort of very similar to the visible church doctrine that we see in the Orthodox side of things, similar to Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholicism, what they hold on that. Don. Before we continue to some of the other beliefs, let me ask you a question that I’ve got. In the Gospels, we have Jesus saying that the Father is greater than the Son or greater than I, something like that, and so how should orthodox Christians respond to that because Jesus is saying He’s unequal to the Father?
Don: Context is always important as you know and how words are used. To say the Father is greater than I is a positional statement, not a statement of nature. I can say for example, whether you like his politics or not, President Trump is greater than I. That’s a positional statement. He is not better than I. We’re both humans. We are of the same nature.
Kurt: You’re equally both human.
Don: We’re equally both human. Neither one of us are superior to the other by nature, only by position, and Jesus speaking as a human and also as the Son of God is by position in a lower position so the Father is greater in that way, but not lesser by nature. We actually see that in the book of Zechariah. I love Zechariah. It’s…[NP1] pages and most Jehovah’s Witnesses, like most Christians, don’t read Zechariah. They don’t even really know how to say the name because it’s the…[NP2] we don’t really read, but we have this unique thing in the New World Translation which we wrote on this week in our blog. In their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, can you see that on your camera there? As you read Zechariah 2 starting in verse 7, because they put the name Jehovah in their translation, which by the way is not a good translation. It’s not an actual translation. It’s a combination of Latin and Hebrew to get to that, I choose to not fight over whose translation is better, especially when they give me a great tool like this, because as we start reading Zechariah 2:7…
Kurt: In their translation.
Don: In their translation. What we find is Jehovah of Armies says He is sent to go to dwell with the people and He says He is sent by Jehovah to go into all of the people and He says He is coming to dwell in the midst of the people because Jehovah sent Him and Jehovah arouses Himself from His holy dwelling place. The whole passage from 2:7 to 13 is Jehovah sending Jehovah. Jehovah going because Jehovah sent Him. Jehovah coming to dwell with the people because Jehovah sent Him and there you see the hierarchy in practice. The … [NP3] Father is greater than I. One sending and one being sent.
Kurt: Despite the poor translation on their end, you still see the concept of the uncreated God dwelling with humanity and so…
Don: And being sent to do that by the uncreated God. So we have two distinct persons who are by nature God, one sending, one being sent, one higher than the other and authority. Their own translation answers that passage all by itself.
Kurt: Nice. That’s great. Good. Okay. Tell us a couple of the other distinguishing beliefs between Jehovah’s Witnesses and orthodox Christians.
Don: They have a two-class system. You mentioned Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy because this is also, they’re similar this way. In fact, one of the things I’ve discovered the years, is I’ve dealt with a number of different false religious groups like this, is that it seems like the group they attack the most is the one they become the most like. If you look at Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses as an example, they are structured very similar to Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodox. You have a two-class system. In the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you have what they call the anointed class, the 144,000. They get that number from Revelation 7 out of context and apply it to the leadership of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and that group will be in heaven. Then you have the other sheep and all of them will be on the Earth and over the years they have been different things. They were the John class at one point. They’re the servant class. They are the other sheep. When they were the John class my wife thought she would fit in there because she has to go to the bathroom a lot. They have a two-class system. The anointed are the one class. They are with Christ. They are Christ’s brothers and sisters and they are also Christs along with….
Kurt: Little gods.
Don: They’re little gods. And then you have the other sheep who work, work, work, work and hopefully will make it into the millennial kingdom of Paradise on Earth. When does that happen? That’s another one of their teachings. Armageddon is right around the corner. They predicted the end of the world for 1914, 1915, 1916, 1925, 1942, 1975, and they kind of stopped with that prognostication for awhile, but in their Awake magazine until 1995, on the masthead on page 4 it says that they were proclaiming God’s kingdom while the anointed class still lived because the kingdom was to come in. They changed that in 1995 because the anointed were all over 100 years old at that point so they had to do something. Now recently they’ve made another change in the anointed class teaching because it used to be that you had to be fifteen years old in 1914 and then it was that you had to be born in 1914, and then it was that you had to be active by 1935, so they changed it again. Now it is if you knew somebody who was anointed, then you might be one of the anointed.They have a problem. All the anointed have passed away. They have no anointed left to run their organization. So you have the anointed, the other sheep, the armageddon is right around the corner. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses who are faithful will survive through Armageddon and at that point, and here’s another fun set of questions you can ask, a friend of ours, Wilbur Lingle, had done a little book about questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Things like if you have 5,000,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses or so and they’re the only ones who survive Armageddon, who’s going to clean up the mess afterwards? All these dead people. All these dead bodies and billions of dead people. Their response is going to be, “The birds will eat them.” Birds can only eat so many humans. You’re going to have a lot of bodies to get rid of. “We’ll bury them. We’ll use heavy equipment.” Okay. Who’s going to make the diesel fuel? These are things that they don’t really think about so it gives you a whole other fun set of questions. Armageddon is central to their thinking. It’s right around the corner. You have to keep working and working and working because Jehovah needs to find you working when He comes or He destroys you and you don’t get to go into the millennial kingdom.
Kurt: I know that Mormons tend to sort of stock up on supplies and goods. Are Jehovah’s Witnesses the same way?
Don: No. They’re not. In fact, some Jehovah’s Witnesses that they talk to, they kind of eye for locations that they might want to move into after Armageddon is over. They don’t really prepare that way, unlike Mormons. Armageddon is big in their thinking. Anti-Trinitarian is big in their thinking. Salvation is by works, is part of their thinking. Organizational affiliation is part of their thinking. They also, a lot of people don’t realize this, when they go door to door, they have to do that. It isn’t even, some want to, I’m not saying they don’t, but they have to fill out a time card to send in to Brooklyn to let Jehovah know that they are being faithful going door to door so He can keep their time recorded.
Kurt: Interesting. Wow. That’s something else. Let’s get to Kyle’s question here. Kyle online, thanks for tuning in Kyle, he asks, “Are we certain that Jehovah’s Witnesses are outside of faith in Christ? Are all faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses going to hell?”
Don: That’s two different kinds of questions. Question one is if you believe the gospel of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society you are outside of the faith. It is clearly a different gospel, a different Jesus, and a different way of salvation. Does that mean that every single Jehovah’s Witness is outside of faith? The answer to that is no. Because, if someone has come to faith in Christ and then become deceived, are they still a child of God who’s been deceived? I have to tell you, I’ve read the book of Galatians and I conclude that people can get confused and still be saved.
Kurt: Right. I agree.
Don: Speaking about an individual, it’s possible someone could be a Jehovah’s Witness and a Christian who’s been deeply deceived. I know some people have a problem with that, but again I have to go back to Galatians or 1 Corinthians.
Kurt: I personally agree with you. I think that’s right, and I think a number of Biblical passages, for example, that might suggest otherwise, I think are misinterpreted. Sort of what’s called the exclusivist camp. Not to go too much on a side tangent, but a verse in Romans says if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Right?
Kurt: That, as I take it, that’s a sufficent condition, this is getting philosophical, it’s a sufficient condition for salvation. It’s not a necessary one. I think people that think it’s necessary, I think they run into some problems. For example, infants, mentally disabled people who can’t literally speak with their mouth, mute people even can’t speak with their mouth that Jesus is Lord…
Don: And if it’s a wooden literalism they can’t be saved.
Kurt: Right. Okay, so how about his second question here? I guess that fits, are all faithful witnesses going to Hell? From your first answer that you say, No. Not necessarily.
Don: Not necessarily, because salvation is an individual question, not a group question.
Kurt: Not an organizational one.
Don: An individual could be deceived and I’m gonna recommend, because there are troublesome passages, that trip people up, we did an article some years ago called Bad Heir Day. You can go to our website, because it talks about the difference between salvation and sanctification. There are two different kinds of questions. Very often people get them confused and so you end up essentially almost with sort of a works mentality in the Christian faith, even though you claim to believe in grace, it becomes redefined in practice, which is unfortunate.
Kurt: Yeah. Good. I’ve got, this isn’t so much of a doctrinal one, but an architectural one. I see a number of Kingdom Halls when I’m driving down to Tallahassee, Florida to visit my wife’s side of the family, we see a lot of Kingdom Halls. I don’t know if it’s a Southern thing, but maybe more just a country rural thing perhaps, but I never see windows. Why is that? Why are there never any windows?
Don: Okay. I’m going to tell you our inside joke on that and then I will tell you the actual reason. The inside joke is because they don’t want any real light in there. It’s a practical question because they have what they call three day wonders, and they put these Kingdom Halls up in three days. It is more cost-efficient and less labor intensive to build them without windows. The older Kingdom Halls have windows. The newer ones don’t.
Kurt: I’ve seen people put up, I had a new garage put up about four years ago. It wasn’t that hard to a window in.
Don: You’re using pretty much not professional labor. It’s all volunteer, and they put them up quickly. They simplify the process as much as possible. For what they’re doing and the way they do it, it is fairly impressive which is a problem. That’s another area that we kind of got involved with last year where we’re trying to figure out how to get more involved is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are starting to grow amongst the Indian reservations out West, and they are impressing the Navaho leadership because they get the lease on their land, they put these buildings up, very nice buildings in a very short amount of time, and then they show up in suits and ties. They all dress well and they keep the grounds well, and unfortunately many of the Christian churches don’t. You’ll pull into a Christian church on the reservation. They’ll have chickens running around and people may be living inside the church and that sort of thing and so the Navaho leadership really likes them because they come across more professionally and they’re open to what they’re doing. They’re building like, last year I think they built twenty or thirty Kingdom Halls. Something like that.
Kurt: So tell us, what are some of the best ways for Christians to get involved in mission work to Jehovah’s Witnesses? We don’t have to wait for them to come knocking on our door do we?
Don: Do not, and there’s a number of ways that, the first thing I would suggest is, visit somebody who’s on your heart. We generally say pray for God to bring someone into your life that you want to reach because once you fall in love with somebody and you really want to reach them, there’s no amount of time you won’t invest, money you won’t invest, prayer you won’t employ to reach them. That is #1. Once you have a heart for somebody. #2. There’s a book I would recommend, one of the best single volume books out there which is by Ron Rhodes. It’s called Reasoning From The Scriptures with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The reason I like it is it deals with doctrine and with history and gives you questions to ask. You are better asking questions than making assertions almost every time, because when you make assertions now you are getting into a combative state. It’s you against them.
Kurt: You’re not leading them to the conclusion. You’re just kind of throwing it at them.
Don: Just throwing it at them. And then don’t ask a question and hang there waiting for the answer. Ask them the question and I say ask the question and then ask them if they’d like some more coffee. Silence is your friend. If they are stopped thinking about it, that is helpful to you. It is not disadvantageous to you. You’ll learn how to ask questions. Why are you a Jehovah’s Witness? You don’t believe in the doctrine of the Trinity? Why don’t you believe in the doctrine of the Trinity? Let them explain to you. How can you believe there are three gods? Okay. Ah. Is that your understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity?
Kurt: Oh good. Right.
Don: Because that’s not what I believe. I believe that there’s one God by nature with three persons. I don’t believe there’s three Gods. You have me confused with a tri-theist.
Kurt: That’s right.
Don: Now you believe that the Father is the Son. No. I’m glad you said that, because I also don’t believe that. That’s another heresy that was dealt with in the fourth century called Monarchian Modalism or the Arian heresy. Now I’ve asked some questions and I know what they believe so I can come back with some responses. Then I can ask them some questions like “I notice, I have a friend and I borrowed this from him, this New World Translation” and if you can get one, get one and contact us. We will give you resources on how to use this kind of material, because this is great to use their material and here’s why. We’re not arguing then about whose translation is better. This is a terrible translation. Unbelievably bad translation. But do I want to spend three days arguing over whose translation is better? It’s kind of like talking about is Ford or Chevy a better automobile? You’re not going to win with that one. Then I would say, “Let me ask you a question. We’re using your translation. Let me ask you a question about this.” How much time do we have?
Kurt: We’ve got about ten minutes here.
Don: Okay. Whenever I open the New World Translation here, and I would read something like “Jehovah of Armies has said” who would be speaking? They’ll usually look at me kind of confused at that point and I’ll say, “Let’s think about it this way. If I read in the paper, Mayor Rahm Emanuel quote, whose words follow that? That would be Rahm Emanuel.” If I say when I read “Thus says Jehovah of Armies” or “Jehovah of Armies has said” whose words follow? Well, that would be Jehovah’s words. Good. I agree with that. That’s how I understand it too. Could you turn with me to Zechariah 2? We just kind of commented on this. In verse 7, it says “Hey there Zion. Make your escape, you who are dwelling with the daughter of Babylon for this is what Jehovah of Armies has said.” So who’s going to speak now? That would be Jehovah of Armies. “Following after glory He has sent me to the nations that were despoiling you people.” Well, that’s interesting. Whoever sent Jehovah anywhere? Kind of interesting question. By the way, would you like another danish? “For that he is touching you is touching my eyeball, for here I am waviing my hand against them and they will have to become spoils to their slaves and people will certainly know that Jehovah of Armies Himself has sent me.” So who was sent? It was Jehovah of Armies. Who’s waving His hand against them? That’s Jehovah of Armies. And who sent Him? Jehovah of Armies. “Cry out loudly and rejoice O daughter of Zion for here I am coming and I will reside in the midst of you is the utterance of Jehovah.” So who’s coming? Jehovah. Who’s sent? Jehovah. Who sent Him? Jehovah. Would you like some more coffee by the way? “Many nations will certainly become joined to Jehovah in that day and they actually become my people and I will reside in the midst of you and you will have to know that Jehovah of Armies Himself has sent me to you and Jehovah will certainly take possession of Judah as His portion upon on the holy ground and He must let keep Jerusalem. Keep silent all flesh before Jehovah for He has aroused Himself from His holy dwelling place.” So we have clearly in the New World Translation, Jehovah being sent. Jehovah coming, being sent by Jehovah to do that, and we just read it from their translation so now, they’ll have to deal with that. They’re going to want to say that that was Zechariah being sent. Let’s see if that follows. Let’s read it again together and show me that from the text itself.
Kurt: Nice. That’s a great tactic to lead them through using their translations, their translation, and to get them to think more about these concepts and ideas and like you said, why bother bickering over the translation for three days? It’s not going to lead to much progress.
Don: No. That’s where we find ourselves often times wandering off the beam because we want to argue over technicalities that we can’t really nail down as easily. These are things that the Holy Spirit I think uses better to persuade the heart. Questions are easier because they are less contentious. The same thing with the resurrection. On our site we have an article. In fact, they might have to email me for this one because it’s still in PDF, but Resurrection Watchtower Style we call it. We go through very carefully and lay out what the Watchtower teaches about how we exist and what happens in the resurrection. We can again ask a series of questions. Am I correct in understanding that we don’t have a soul, but we are a soul? They’re going to say, “Right.” Okay. As I read the Watchtower literature and you can correct me if I’m wrong on this, my personality, my memories, everything about me that is who I am is contained in my physical body and to some degree in my blood. Is that correct? And they’ll go “Yes.” Okay. Good. That’s what I understood. So when I die, all of the original me, ceases to exist with my body because there’s no soul to carry it out anywhere. It just all goes to dust. Right? “Yes.” Okay, and then God later creates another physical being that looks like me and has a copy because the original’s gone, of my memories and life pattern, that He puts in this newly created being. Is that correct?” Now they want to hesitate, but that is correct. And so He makes a copy, this is a third generation copy He’s put into this newly created being that looks like me and has all these memories that I had experienced in my life, but is it really me? As we think about this, could Jehovah, and we asked an elder this, because we went through all their material and that’s the best we can do is ask them questions. We have a whole packet, about ten pages of questions of their literature with the questions to go with it, and we asked an elder this question. At the end we said, “Could Jehovah create another you right now and bring Him in the kitchen to replcae you?” And he said, “He wouldn’t do it.” We understand He’s not doing it, but could He do that? He said, “Yeah. He could do that.” Okay. So, He could create somebody in our hallway, we could march Him in here. It would look like you. It would have all your memories to this point of time. We could shoot you dead between the eyes. You’re gone. Dead forever dead, but your clone is who to replace you who could go home and play with your kids and sleep with your wife and you would be okay with that. He got so angry. “Jehovah would never do that!” Well, the only thing that makes it work is a time lapse. That’s the only difference between these two.
Kurt: Because Jehovah will do that in the future.
Don: So the you that eventually is recreated and meets up with a woman who looks like your wife, who has memories of her giving birth to your children who you met up with, none of them actually has those experiences or actually existed. They are just duplicates of you, because the originals are dead, forever dead, so therefore, all of the door to door work you are doing, somebody else will be rewarded for.
Kurt: Good point.
Don: My rejection of you is not going to cost you anything because I will simply cease to exist and that will be it.
Kurt: Good. Well, Don, we’ve run out of time, but I want to thank you so much for coming on the show today and to teach us more about what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe, their history, and how we as Christians really should take the time to learn more about our own beliefs because when we do so we can be better prepared to talk to them and to engage them and more importantly even, to love them, show love to them, it’s not always just about winning arguments.
Kurt: Don. Thanks so much and if you want to learn more about Don’s work you can go to midwestoutreach.org and also check out emnr.org as well. Don. Thank you so much.
Don: Good to be with you.
Kurt: That does it for the show today. I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons and our sponsors and the sponsors include Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, Evolution 2.0, and Ratio Christi and thank you to the tech team today, Chris, and to our guest, Don Veinot, and thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.
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