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Lacking Biblical Knowledge

A week ago I answered my door and two Jehovah Witnesses dressed in ties wanted to share their beliefs with me. They announced we’re in the end times and through their organization I could enjoy life on a paradise earth forever. They read from their Bible Psalm 37:29 “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”  I told them I was familiar with Psalm 37 and it speaks of two classes of people on the earth; the righteous and the wicked. I said your organization adds a 3rd class of people called the 144,000.  I said if the Bible says there are two classes of people, where do the 144,000 fit in?  Are they wicked or are they righteous?  And if they are righteous, according to your beliefs, they will reside on earth forever and not spend eternity in heaven (they believe the 144,000 will reside in heaven).  I waited for an answer.  Instead of answering me they said, “Wow someone actually knows their Bible! We spend days, weeks, and months going door to door and we almost never meet someone who understands the Bible.” We spoke for a few more minutes before they graciously moved on. As they left they said they wanted to start a Bible study with me. As they walked away I reflected on their statement about not finding people who understand the Bible.  Here are some of my thoughts.

1.    It doesn’t surprise me non-religious people lack knowledge of the Bible. Over the years, especially recently, secular society has attacked the Scriptures and the result is people don’t trust the Bible. Why read something you think is unreliable and make-believe. The anti-Bible position of the media poisons the minds of our culture creating a road block to opening a Bible and studying it.

2.     However, it is also a sad reflection of the Christian church today. If 70% of the population says they are Christians, how can so many answering the door know so little about their Bible? This certainly is an indictment against the church in how it views Bible study and spiritual growth. The church has moved away from knowledge and study and more towards experience and doing. This is one of the reasons why the Jehovah Witness enterprise has been successful. Some statistics say 75% of all Jehovah Witnesses come from a Christian church. People who don’t know what they believe can be easily swayed by the slick presentation of a knowledgeable Jehovah Witness. They are easily fooled and join a false belief system.

3.     Lastly, even though the Jehovah Witnesses seem to have a great knowledge of the Bible, the truth is they don’t. They study their Bibles but the main study materials are provided by the Watchtower Organization in either their Watchtower publications or frequent Kingdom Hall meetings. In multiple conversations with Witnesses, when they cannot support their views with scripture they tell stories or give illustrations to fill in the gaps. These stories or illustrations seem possible to them and they cling to them even when the Bible teaches otherwise. And why do they cling to them? Because these stories or illustrations come directly from the Watchtower Organization and they believe these people speak for God.

So what are my conclusions from this meeting?

  • It’s time the Christian church woke up and changed how it approaches the Bible and spiritual growth. This was one of the motivations behind the Biblical Worldview Academy development of God’s Unfolding Plan. This is a comprehensive overview tracing God’s plan from Genesis to Revelations giving people the big picture of the Bible and providing a framework to read and study the Bible. Currently, this curriculum is in developmental stages and is being taught at a few select churches.
  • Jehovah Witnesses love to present, to unsuspecting listeners, their out of context teachings distorting the truth of the Bible.  In a blog series called “Accurately Interpreting the Scriptures,” I will expose the false interpretations of the Watchtower Organization.
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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • JW News June 18, 2009, 2:28 pm

    Steve –

    It is always interesting to get an “outside” perspective.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses receive continual Bible education from infancy onward. If you go to a Kingdom Hall you will observe that even the youngest have a copy of the Bible and that all eagerly look up the scripture references spoken from the podium.

    This education puts them at a great advantage when speaking to inviduals in their door-to-door ministry work. The problem is that their Bible education is mainly to support their particular doctrines. It can be very easy to convince someone, with limited Bible knowledge, at a door-step that erroneus teachings such as – Jesus is Michael the Archangel.

    http://www.jw-news.info

  • jessica June 18, 2009, 2:46 pm

    Christianity is defined as followers of christ. What JW’s do is follow Jesus’s example. Living a simple life and spend their life preaching city to city and door to door. They are Christians. The majority of churches tend to loose members while JW’s are gaining them. Why? I looked and looked and everytime I go to a church all they speak about is hell and needing more money for me to pay the church. There’s something wrong with this picture obviously.

  • admin June 18, 2009, 3:30 pm

    Jessica,
    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. You say that Jehovah Witnesses follow Jesus Christ; what Jesus are they following? Are we free to make up any old Jesus we want and follow Him or is Jesus someone particular? Do you know much about the Jesus of the Jehovah Witnesses? What if they were following a false Jesus? Would you warn them?

    I agree with you that if Christian churches only preached hell week after week and asked for money, I wouldn’t attend those either. Thankfully there are many churches that preach the entire Bible and subjects such as hell are only talked about when appropriate. The Bible speaks a lot about money but topics encouraging churches to ask for money is not the emphasis. Churches need to teach the Bible and leave the giving of money to individual decision making. That being said it is appropriate at times to teach Biblical passages that speak about how the believer should give to the work of the ministry.

    I hope this helps…

    Steve

  • admin June 18, 2009, 5:34 pm

    JW News,
    Maybe you could answer my original question to my visitors at the door. [From original post] They then read from their Psalm 37:29 “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” I told them I was familiar with Psalm 37 and it speaks of two classes of people on the earth; the righteous and the wicked. Your organization adds a 3rd class of people called the 144,000. I then asked, if the Bible says there are two classes of people, where do the 144,000 fit in? Are they wicked or are they righteous? And if they are righteous, according to your beliefs, they will reside on earth forever and not spend eternity in heaven. What are they?

    Steve

  • JW News June 20, 2009, 1:06 pm

    JW teaching is that both the anointed 144,000 and the non-anointed “other sheep” are declared righteous, however they according righteousness in separate ways. Consider this from the Watchtower:

    “In our day, “the foreigners that have joined themselves to Jehovah” are the great crowd. These minister to Jehovah in association with the Israel of God. (Zechariah 8:23) They offer the same acceptable sacrifices as the Israel of God. (Hebrews 13:15, 16) They worship in God’s spiritual temple, his “house of prayer.” (Compare Revelation 7:15.) Do they keep the weekly Sabbath? Neither anointed nor other sheep are commanded to do this. (Colossians 2:16, 17) However, Paul said to anointed Hebrew Christians: “There remains a sabbath resting for the people of God. For the man that has entered into God’s rest has also himself rested from his own works, just as God did from his own.” (Hebrews 4:9, 10) Those Hebrews entered into this “sabbath resting” when they subjected themselves to “the righteousness of God” and rested from trying to justify themselves by works of the Law. (Romans 10:3, 4) Anointed Gentile Christians enjoy the same rest by subjecting themselves to Jehovah’s righteousness. The great crowd join them in that rest.

    6 Further, other sheep lay hold of the new covenant just as foreigners of old laid hold of the Law covenant. In what way? Not by becoming participants in it but by submitting to the laws associated with it and benefiting from its arrangements. (Compare Jeremiah 31:33, 34.) Like their anointed companions, the other sheep have Jehovah’s law written ‘in their heart.’ They deeply love and obey Jehovah’s commandments and principles. (Psalm 37:31; 119:97) Like anointed Christians, they know Jehovah. (John 17:3) What about circumcision? Some 1,500 years before the making of the new covenant, Moses urged the Israelites: “You must circumcise the foreskin of your hearts.” (Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4) While compulsory fleshly circumcision passed away with the Law, both the anointed and the other sheep must “circumcise” their hearts. (Colossians 2:11) Finally, Jehovah forgives the error of the other sheep on the basis of Jesus’ shed “blood of the covenant.” (Matthew 26:28; 1 John 1:9; 2:2) God does not adopt them as spiritual sons, as he does the 144,000. But he does declare the other sheep righteous, in the sense that Abraham was declared righteous as God’s friend.—Matthew 25:46; Romans 4:2, 3; James 2:23.

    7 For the 144,000, being declared righteous opens the way to their having the hope of ruling with Jesus in the heavenly Kingdom. (Romans 8:16, 17; Galatians 2:16) For the other sheep, being declared righteous as God’s friends allows them to embrace the hope of everlasting life in a paradise earth—either by surviving Armageddon as part of the great crowd or through the ‘resurrection of the righteous.’ (Acts 24:15) What a privilege to have such a hope and to be a friend of the Sovereign of the universe, to be “a guest in [his] tent”! (Psalm 15:1, 2) Yes, both anointed and other sheep are blessed in a wonderful way through Jesus, the Seed of Abraham.”

  • Bill in Detroit June 22, 2009, 4:20 pm

    You ask a truly empty question when you ask which Jesus Jehovah’s Witnesses follow. We follow the one at Matthew 10:40; 24:14; 28:19,20. There is no other.

  • Jon June 25, 2009, 9:30 pm

    Biblical knowledge according to a biblical worldview in all areas of life is truly lacking in the church today. I am excited that more people like yourself are speaking out about this issue. I speak to these same issues concerning the youth.
    http://worldviewyouthevangelism.com/

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