Thursday, April 19, 2018

Jehovah's Witnesses

Probably the most glaring error of the JW’s is that they believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is a god not the God.  They have a works salvation scheme.  Have both doctrinal and some sociological characteristics of a cult.  I have put these links in order of priority.—Short overview

Cold-case Christianity with J. Warner Wallace: “A Brief Overview of the Jehovah’s Witness Worldview”

Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry—Links to several resources about Jehovah’s Witnesses

ReligionFacts: “Jehovah's Witnesses Beliefs”—A non-evangelical summary of their beliefs.—“How do Jehovah’s Witnesses’ teachings about Christ compare with Scriptures?”
Defense of Christ’s deity geared toward JW’s—This page has several good articles about Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018



Why do we go to Google, Youtube, and other search engines to find answers to our questions?  Because we believe, at least generally, that we will find helpful, reliable answers to our questions.  In 1 Peter 3: 15, the Apostle Peter says to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts, to always being ready with an answer for the hope within and to give it with gentleness and give it with respect. Here’s a question that’s important for us to think about.  What would it take for you and me to live the kind of life that would invite questions from other people?  How do we live our lives in a certain way that others want to know the source of our hope?  And what are some questions we can ask other people to help them along their spiritual journey? 

A few years ago I co-wrote Is God just a Human Invention with a friend of mine named Jonathan Marrow.  The goal was to provide succinct answers to the seventeen biggest questions skeptics and atheists were asking about God.  Christians were reading, and I was getting a good response.  I started thinking to myself, “How can I get other non-believers to read it and engage with the ideas?”  So I called up one of the largest skeptic groups in the area where I live and said I would be happy to sit in the hot seat of your group and answer questions that people in your group would have towards a Christian.  I went up there and they had questions about God, questions about the Bible, political questions, and even specific questions about what I believed about the soul.  It was a blast.  Before the event began I had asked the leader if it was okay if toward the end I could ask them some questions.  Now I could have asked this group of skeptics how they explained the origin of information in DNA, or the origin of the universe, or how they explain the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.  While those are great questions I decided to take a different approach.  Instead, I asked the questions like, "What are blind spots to Christians have?  What bad impressions to Christians often leave?  And how can Christians improve their interactions with skeptics?"  
I’ll never forget a lady sitting right in front to my right who was 70 years old said, “Listen.” 
I said, “Tell me what you mean.” 
She said, “A lot of my Christian friends want to speak to me, tell me why I’m wrong and preach at me, and occasionally tell me I’m going to Hell, but when I want to share my beliefs, they don’t want to listen to me.  Why should I listen to them when they don’t listen to me?”
And a fellow in the back who is maybe fifty years old described himself as a former Christian.  He said, “Stop slandering atheists.” 
And I said, “That’s a pretty serious charge.  What do you mean?” 
He said, “Look, I’m an atheist, but occasionally I’ll just show up, and I’ll go to church.  People don’t know who I am, or why I’m there.   And I just listen.”  He said, “Almost every time I show up, I hear some cheap shot, often from the stage, about atheists or some other non-Christian group.”

Here’s the bottom line.  If we don’t treat non-believers the way that Christ called us to, they so often won’t even hear what we believe is true.  The Bible tells us that Jesus came in grace, and he came in truth.  He came in grace which is a loving relationship.  And he also spoke truth.  We are called to speak the truth.  We can‘t compromise truth, but we must do it in love.  If we mess up the relationship, so often people won’t even hear what we believe is true.  If we want people to ask us questions about our faith, we need to be living the kind of lives that invite inquiries.  We need to live the kind of lives that make people wonder, "What is the source of that person's hope?"  

We also need to be ready with some thoughtful questions we can ask other people to help them along their spiritual journey.  Here are some specific questions that I found helpful in my own experience and relationships. 

First, What do you believe?  It’s important to find out what the other person believes.  Proverbs 18:13 says it is foolish and shameful to answer before you hear.  To have an honest conversation with somebody you first have to understand what the person really believes.  And that person is only going to share what they believe when we ask good questions and really listen. 

Second, “Why do you believe it?”  What reason does a person have for his or her beliefs?  Proverbs 20:5 says that the purposes of a man’s heart are like deep waters, but a person of understanding is a person who can draw it out.  In other words, people have a deep reason for why they believe what they do.  And sometimes people know those reasons and sometimes they don’t.  Take my father for example.  Before he became a Christian he was an angry agnostic.  He looked for ways to shoot Christians down and prove that they were wrong.  One thing he did before he realized it at the time is he would hear people talk about a heavenly father, and he thought, "Why would I want a heavenly father?"  That idea turned him off.  Why? Because his earthly father was abusive and absent.  His relationship with his father was a deep reason that gave him some anger against God.  People have deep reasons for why they believe as they do, and it takes wisdom and listening and patience to help draw out what those real reasons are. 

The third question is “Where do we agree?”  Where can we find common ground?  Finding common ground is a powerful way to have meaningful, spiritual conversations with other people.  When we find common ground, often someone’s guard will go down, and they will listen in a way they wouldn’t have listened before. 
When I was meeting with these skeptics, they were surprised to find out that even though we clearly disagreed on a number of significant issues, how much we actually have in common. 

And the fourth questions is, “Where do we disagree?”  I’ve had at least two significant conversations with skeptics about the origins of the universe.   And each of these conversations we talk about the science and the philosophy, that points toward the universe having a beginning.  As we got back to the basis of the argument, I said to them either you have to believe that the universe can come into existence from nothing, or you believe that there is a cause outside of space and time that speaks the universe into existence.  Which do you find more reasonable?  And both of them looked me right in the eye and said a universe from nothing is most reasonable.  Now in some ways, I am not exactly sure where to take the argument from that.  So I just said back to them, “Here’s where you and I differ.  I think its more reasonable that there is a God that speaks the world into existence.  You think it’s more reasonable that something can come from nothing."  All I was trying to do is clarify the cost of being an atheist.  Now interestingly in a matter of time, one of them actually became a believer.  

In my experience, most people are willing to have genuine, spiritual conversation.  If we treat people the way they want to be treated, they will often return the favor to us.  If we really listen to people and value their opinion, most people will listen back and value what we have to say as well.  You have learned some powerful lessons in this study, and you are ready for spiritual conversations.  Now don’t think you have to have all the answers.  If someone asks you a tough question, simply say, “I don’t know,” and then go find an answer so that you’ll know next time.  If you are willing to ask good questions, listen to people, and stick with people through their journey, I think you will be amazed at how God will use you in people’s lives to make a difference with them spiritually. Go forth.