About Me

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I am married to my lovely wife (Shasta), and we are in the ministry together. We both love the Lord, play sports, love to travel, and we love the outdoors. I am currently attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, LA where I am pursuing a MDiv in Pastoral Ministry.

Friday, October 2, 2015

How Christians Should React to Mass Shootings

How Christians Should React to Mass Shootings

      I long for the day when Christianity will become more about following Christ than about following a political agenda. I long for the day when Christians will drop politics and pick up a cross to carry. I long for the day when Christians will value the lives and souls of individuals more than our own comfort and desires. I long for the day when all the words and actions by Christians converge to form a Gospel-centered response to sin. After all, in the Christian worldview the root of all evil is sin, not a political agenda, not access to an object, not a philosophy, not a geographical area, etc., but sin—sin is the great demise of the physical world and our spiritual lives. Sadly, instead of focusing on the sin which initiated these mass shootings, many Christians take to social media and personal conversations to engage in dialogue about inanimate objects, philosophies, geography, culture, etc. and never speak to the thing that every part of Creation is truly at war with: sin. Christians MUST react differently and Christians MUST have a Biblical Christocentric reaction to these mass shootings.

1.       Put Down the Keyboard and Pick Up Your Sword

Our first reaction to tragedy is to combat the tragedy through our keyboard—we want to speak into the tragedy before allowing the Lord to speak to us. Instead of picking up our keyboards and writing, we should first pick up the Sword (Word of God) and allow it to shape us before turning it towards others (Matthew 7:1-6, Hebrews 4:12). The most foolish of speech is the speech that is guided by man’s thoughts and desires in rebellion or ignorance to the Word of God. We should constantly be full of the Word of God, and our speech should reflect that. (1 Peter 4:11) The world needs to hear from God, because only He can save, redeem, make new, heal, comfort, etc. Be faithful to your own discipleship to be faithful in speaking into the lives of others

2.       Focus On the Spiritual to Change How We Handle the Material

Throughout my newsfeed on Facebook and Twitter, Christians have already engaged in the debate about gun control, even though these Christians know the problem isn’t a material one but a spiritual one. Here’s an idea: quit focusing on material items and focus on the spiritual problem that causes people to sinfully abuse material items. Quit focusing on objects that fit in our hands and focus on the heart and soul that causes the hands to act. For a Christian to solely focus on dealing with political reforms focused on handling materialistic objects while neglecting to deal with the spiritual brokenness of our world, is to push away Christ in order to make our own desires, agenda, and idols a priority. People don’t need to hear from you about your political stance, people need to hear about the hope found in Jesus. The call to follow Jesus is synonymous with sharing with others about Jesus. Jesus did not say in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me, and wait till it’s politically advantageous to fish for men (share the Gospel).” No, he said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” These mass shootings and other tragedies are a perfect time to “fish for men,” and to reveal the glorious story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can change the spiritual nature of a man in order to change how he handles the material. Don’t blow these opportunities! Talk about the Gospel, it impacts both today and eternity—politics does not.

3.       Pray Before You Speak and Write

Prayer not only unites us with God, but when we pray for people, God gives us love, compassion, sympathy, and the right heart to both speak and act towards them in a situation. Before we respond to any mass shooting, ask yourself, “Have I prayed about what to say and/or do? Does what I want to say and/or do glorify and magnify God?” Chances are, if you haven’t prayed about it, it’s not going to be Godly. Why? God says in Isaiah 55:10, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Chances are, if you have not united with God in prayer, your words and actions will also not be united with God. Our sinful hearts can often cause us to say and do things which are either wrong or done in the wrong method, but when we pray for the right words, actions, and heart to say them, God makes us more able to properly minister in a situation. Above all, pray for God to move regardless of what you say or do.

4.       Make Little of You and Your Opinion and Make Much of Christ

For some reason, God decided to use you and me to spread His glory across this world, but that does not mean that you or I may make more of ourselves than of Christ. John the Baptist, in preparing the way for Jesus’s ministry said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) In case you don’t know the story of John the Baptist, he was beheaded because of his continual witness for Christ. His life did not make much of himself (he lived a tough lifestyle) or his opinion (he was too busy talking about Christ), and it cost him—but his reward was far greater than his self-esteem or praise from men. Yes, making much of Christ costs us, but it costs us and others far more to make little of Christ. (Luke 14:25-33) Make sure whatever you say and do points to Christ and not to yourself or your opinion.

5.        Serve Needs Instead of Only Seeing Needs

Mass shootings cause a humanitarian need for comfort, counseling, a shoulder to cry on, food, security, etc. and the Church should be on the frontlines providing these things. The old saying is true, “No one cares what you say if they don’t know that you care.” Taking care of people’s physical needs is also a part of the Gospel as God is not just seeking spiritual renewal and healing, but to restore everything back to the Garden of Eden’s status of well-being and wholeness in physical and spiritual. Serve in love to share Christ’s love.

Christians are commanded by the King of Kings to be His witnesses to the world, and for us to do any different is to rebel against His commands. Every day there are opportunities to share the life-altering Gospel of Jesus Christ with others, and these mass shootings should be a clear opportunity for us. The world does not need us to make more laws for them or to debate current laws, the world needs us to share about the way out of “the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2) and how to obtain the perfect law of freedom in Christ. (James 1:25) Will you pick up God’s Word before you speak? Will you focus on the spiritual need of people? Will you pray before speaking and writing? Will you make much of Christ? 

Please comment on and share this blog.

Thanks for reading!

Ryan Ralston

Monday, June 22, 2015

Six Things First Time Ministers Need to Know

Moving from the seminary classroom and into his first ever ministry position at Random Baptist Church, John is excited to use his new knowledge from seminary in a local ministry context. Although once excited, weeks into the position, John feels that things aren’t going as well as he initially thought they would go; the congregation seems disconnected from his teaching, there seems to be little transformation in the lives of the congregation and community, the church won’t follow his leadership, and he feels like he is all alone since he has no ministry friends in combination with the friendship breakdown between the church members and him. 

As he struggles in this ministry position, he begins to ask, "Why aren’t things going the way the professors said they would go? Why does the congregation not care about the Greek, Hebrew, historical context, and essential meaning of the Scripture? Why is there no positive spiritual transformation in the lives of the church members? Why won’t the church follow my leadership? Where is a close friend when I need one? Why won't people connect to ministry opportunities? Why can’t I make a friend in the church? Is this really what ministry is like? Am I really called to be a minister?" John’s thoughts have turned from excitement on his first day to thoughts of despair, failure, and leaving the church—after all, if God’s plan for John is to be at this church, why are things so hard??

Unfortunately, many seminary students and young ministers enter situations just like John’s, but here are six ways to avoid or overcome John’s plight:

      1.       Preach, don’t just Teach

With my undergraduate degree in teaching and the abundance of information about Scripture that I was learning, when I started serving in a local church, my preaching time was filled with great exegesis but little takeaway for the congregation. Sure, I helped them learn about the Bible, but in doing so, I did not help them connect the Bible to real life. Great preaching does not just teach, it applies and directs hearers to live Scripture in their daily lives. Too many seminary students want to teach, but they seldom share how the hearers should live out the Scripture. Teach the essential meaning, but don’t forget to explain why this Scripture matters to life and how to apply Scripture to life.

      2.       Pray, don’t Prey

Prayer is humiliating. Why? There is nothing more humiliating than realizing that we can’t do something and having to depend on someone else. Prayer is the mode by which we tell God that we are insufficient to run our lives and that we need His guidance and intervention because He is sovereign. Prayer is also the way that we focus less on ourselves and more on what God would have us to do. Tragically, many ministers compare their positions, abilities, congregations, etc. and instead of praying to God, they prey on the needs of the congregation for the minister’s acclamation and fame. A minister who prays for himself and his congregation is a minister who stays close to the Lord and is humble enough to give glory to God, not himself. Pride feeds off preying on others and will always lead to a minster’s fall, but a minister who is humbled in prayer feeds off the Holy Spirit and is stronger than any of the works of the evil one.

      3.       Pull, don’t Push

Because leadership involves people following, it is impossible to be a leader and push people towards a goal—a leader has to pull those who follow him towards the goal. That means that a leader has to consistently be closer to the goal than his followers. If a leader falls even with or is passed by his followers, he is no longer a leader, but the people will pick someone else to lead them. Many inexperienced/ignorant leaders think that they can command or dominate a group of people to a goal, but these leaders are not leaders, they are dictatorial individuals who will only accomplish goals on the back of burned-out coworkers. Save yourself the struggle and pull people along with you towards a goal that you are pursuing: pull, don’t push.

     4.       Slower, don’t Scurry

Most ministers go into a church with a goal for creating a more Christ-like environment that provides an atmosphere for ministry to flourish, but many of these ministers move too fast for their congregation to feel a part of and understand the change of the church’s environment. Ultimately, the church and minister begin to have problems, and if not addressed quickly, the minister and church may never see eye to eye again. How does a minister prevent this? Instead of scurrying to work and just doing something, a minister should go slower and strategically pick which things are best to change by using the right people for the task. In the same way that a minister must study his congregation to understand the people he is leading, a minister must study his people to understand how quickly they will both fall under his leadership and buy into his vision. Scurrying to do something does not always work best, generally, being patient and strategic while progressing slower is better. Go slow, don't just scurry to do something.

      5.       Connect, don’t just Communicate

This part has two important aspects to it: First, a minister must connect with other ministers. Ministry can be the loneliest place you ever are- even though you are constantly surrounded by people. A minister needs close friends to be a support group, accountability partners, and fellow ministry companions. A minister without ministry friends is prey for discouragement, sin, burnout, and failure. Second, a minister must connect his church to ministry. A minister cannot do everything; a minister should not do everything. Connecting people to ministry is as easy as asking one or two people to join with you on an evangelism outing, asking people to help with an event, discipling and training a core group of people, placing people in ministry roles that they fit, and encouraging them to pursue their God-given calling. Connecting with people and connecting people to ministry goes beyond communicating through a sermon to communicating with others on deeper spiritual levels—a work every minister should be about.

      6.       Pursue, don’t just ________

Most of the other parts had a contrasting word to the first word of each point, but this one does not. I did this intentionally because in ministry there is nothing more important for a minister to do than to pursue after his relationship with God and his family. My dad has always told me, “God is first, and family is second.” My dad’s statement does not discount having strong family ties, but rather, his statement builds up family ties through having a primary focus on God. As I pursue God, God will place in me the desire for me to pursue my family, as well as the way to correctly pursue them in Christ-like love. Our first calling is to God and our second is to family; if we do not square away our pursuit of God and family, all else is lost. Chances are, we will find ourselves at other churches, but we only have 1 God and 1 family. Pursue them.

Obviously there are other things that would help new ministers, but these are just a few that come to mind. In your experience, what are some things that a new minister or minister fresh out of seminary should know? What are some things that a struggling minister should look to do?

Feel free to comment and share.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Call to Ministry and Vocation

     Currently, a full-time ministry position is hard to find. Why? More and more, ministers are either moving from full-time ministerial positions to bivocational ministerial positions, or their first church employment is a bi-vocational position. Although these bivocational ministers may be paid on a part-time scale, rarely do these ministers do part-time work. “A recent survey of Louisiana Baptist Bivocational Pastors revealed on average 119 hour work week of the pastors that participated including a 40 hour secular job schedule. That left 7 hours a day to eat, sleep, and family time. This survey was very similar to two other SBC State Convention surveys.” (http://www.bivocational.org/BIVO/Job_Description/BivoDescription.htm)

Interestingly, even though churches are moving away from full-time positions, the church culture still promulgates ministers to announce their call to ministry as a call to “full-time” ministry. Think about it, when was the last time you heard someone announce their surrender to God’s call to the ministry and the person said, “I am announcing my call to part-time employed ministry!” Personally, I believe that we should redefine the call to ministry by separating the call to ministry and the call to a ministerial position because too many young ministers believe that their ministry and ministerial employment are to be in full-time ministerial positions at a church. Because of this terminology, I believe that we will see fewer and fewer ministers will accept bivocational positions because their understanding of their calling and their work do not match.

I believe that there are 4 areas that we can use to clarify the calling to full-time ministry. In seeing these 4 areas, my hope is ministers will better understand and fulfill the calling to full-time ministry. In doing so, I hope that more ministers will see bivocational ministry as a viable means of fulfilling their calling to minister full-time, and that ministers will not shy away from bivocational employment opportunities which God can use to make a difference in the world.

Here are the four ways that we can clarify the calling to full-time ministry:

      1.       Full-time ministry does not mean a full time ministerial vocation

All too often, we associate ministry with a title or position at a church. Interestingly, our go to passage for the call to ministry, The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, makes no mention of positions inside a church. The call by Jesus to His followers to minister is something that is to be done in every minute of every day, not just in a position at a church. A person who does ministry full time may not be an employed member of a church, but they are an obedient follower of Jesus. God’s call upon an individual’s life to ministry is not based on employment, but it is based on obedience to the Spirit’s bidding. A vocation is a way to do ministry, a vocation is not all the ministry we are to do. Likewise, vocations change as individuals age, their gifting changes, and God places them in unique situations to minister, but the call to minister never leaves the individual.

      2.       Full-time ministry is a call from God to always be on mission

You have probably heard someone say, “Let the missionaries do evangelism, that’s their job!” If you are anything like me, you want to fashion a Jesus-at-the-temple-whip and run that person out of the church! Although I get frustrated with their statement, I have to think about their statement and its importance to understanding why people do not minister as they should. For instance, their statement comes from an understanding that paid ministry equals an opportunity to do ministry. Tragically, somewhere in their Christian-life, someone sold them the lie that they can avoid ministering because there is someone paid to do said ministry. The Biblical evidence that contradicts this thinking is too abundant to mention here, but one example, the Apostle Paul did ministry in everything he did, rather he was making a tent or preaching, Paul’s obedience to God’s call meant that he was always on mission for God, rather employed or not. If we wait to do ministry until we are vocationally full time, we will miss the opportunities to be obedient to Jesus’ call. People need us to minister to them rather we are paid and employed in a full-time position or not.

      3.       Full-time ministry is more about a lifestyle than a situation

Doing ministry in everything we do means that our lifestyle is different than those who only do ministry because of a church position. People who live the lifestyle of ministry will share the Gospel with their waiter/waitress, see opportunities during their day to minister to people, create a Gospel culture around them, and take the Gospel outside the walls of the church. The person who makes ministry a lifestyle can take any situation and with the Lord’s working, make an ordinary moment into an extraordinarily Gospel-filled situation.

      4.       Full-time ministry is outside the walls of the church

No matter if someone is vocationally full-time or not, the call to ministry serves both the Church and the lost world. There are many ministers who view their ministry as solely to the Church while they are at church. Tragically, when the minister leaves the church, the minister acts no different than an average member of society; there is no attempt to minister to the community; there is no continuation of living out what they studied; there is no urgency to fulfill the Great Commission; there is no love for the lost person they will later meet. We would consider it a faulty marriage for a husband to neglect his marriage when he is away from his wife, but many ministers consider that they only have to minister when they are at church. A faithful minister ministers inside and outside the church because He is wed to both Jesus and the ministry.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Easter Eggs and Redemption

Easter is this weekend, and for many churches, they will invariably encounter the debate over just how much they will celebrate Easter. In one camp there will be the group that protests the Easter Bunny and eggs by saying that these two things are too pagan for a church to get involved with; while, in another group, they will say that the Easter bunny shouldn’t be at church but hunting eggs in harmless. The question always arises, “Should our church do an Easter egg hunt at the church?” Although this seems like a simple question, it is a multi-faceted question and does not just apply to Easter, but it applies to every Christian holiday that somehow associates itself with pagan holidays and practices. In fact, this question boils down to ask, “How much should Christ's Church be a part of and share in the practices of the sinful community and world?”

First, the concern for church members who see certain practices as sins, must be accounted for in our decisions as to how to the Church should choose to operate. As Paul told the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 10:23 ESV “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.” Paul said this in the middle of talking about the concerns some Christians had in how other Christians were participating in pagan practices (eating food offered to idols). Paul instructed the Corinthian church to be sure to not cause a stumbling block for other Christians, but also that they should, “…whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)

Although this message from Scripture applies to this circumstance, the situation is slightly different. Because the issue was among believers and not among believers and the lost world, the implications of 1 Cor. 10 apply in a slightly different way in this circumstance. For instance, Easter Egg hunts have huge potential for reaching the lost world, while 1 Cor. 10 dealt with the issue of fellowship among the Believers. Although we should prioritize our fellowship with Believers, we should also be about the Great Commission; although some churches prioritize discipleship over evangelism (spoiler alert: there should be a balance of evangelism and discipleship). In saying that, the mission of the church comes into question. For instance, how willing is a church to penetrate a lost community with the Gospel? In the church’s mission statement, is there mention of needing to prioritize missions outside the church, or is the church intentionally focused internally on its members? If the mission of the church is a Biblical one, then the church will likely look for opportunities to share the Gospel, despite some Believers seeing pagan practices as only sin. There must be a transition to seeing things through a Gospel lens so that individuals can baptize pagan practices into being used as an opportunity for Christian ministry. Again, our priority in sharing the Gospel should not direct us to break ties with Believers, but it should lead us to, in Christ’s Spirit, redeem a pagan practice to attempt to redeem a pagan in the community to give glory to God. A group of believers cannot allow the complacency of a few individuals to stop the group of believers from sharing the Gospel- the priority of the Church.

Second, there are pagan issues in the holiday we call Easter; but, the most important part of the Gospel is also proclaimed on Easter (the resurrection). Although the Bible does not command the celebration of the resurrection, without the resurrection we are still under the Old Covenant and the Christian Faith is false (1 Cor. 15)- something to celebrate! In our celebration of the Gospel’s truthfulness, we should seek to transfer things that were once Spiritually Dead to Spiritual Life. (Eph. 2) Even though there are obvious pagan practices on this day, the children of God should not shy away from living for and celebrating an act of God. Ceasing to celebrate an act of God due to sinful practices associated with a certain date, minimizes the act of God and shows our fear of sin that compromises our victory in Jesus.

Despite the pagan sides of Easter (that only a few individuals know about, let alone practice), we should always see pagan activities as an opportunity to redeem them to a Christian meaning. Because sin is a deprivation of all things originally created to be good (Gen. 1), everything pagan has the opportunity to be redeemed and should be redeemed to a God-centered purpose so as to glorify God. God has the Holy Spirit working in connection with His Church to act to redeem and transform everything into something God-honoring. For instance, the early church sought to do so by creating Easter to replace pagan holidays with Christian ones (even though Easter coincides with the actual time of the Resurrection)! The Bible also contains several instances where Godly men used pagan practices and stories to share God with others: Joseph and Daniel interpreted dreams (a pagan practice) but did it to the glory of God, Paul often turned pagan beliefs into opportunities to share the Gospel in his missionary journeys (Acts 17), and John, in the book of Revelation, took pagan stories and Christianized them to share Gospel truths. In following Biblical example and Church tradition, I think that we should always be ready to redeem a pagan practice to be used by God; after all, what shows a greater picture of the Gospel than to take something pagan and redeem it to God’s glory?

Is it possible to redeem the practice of Easter egg hunting? Sure! Although the eggs were a originally a pagan symbol depicting fertility, they could easily be made into a Christian message. For instance, one could share with the children that originally the eggs were celebrated by pagans to be signs of fertility, but God can use them to share a message too. In fact, just as the eggs are placed in different places, so men are in different locations all over the world in need of finding. Each person who finds an egg represents the Gospel going forth to find and save lost men and women. In order to truly cherish someone, we have to see the beauty of God in their lives in the same way that we excitedly search for treasures in the eggs. By sharing a message like this through the once pagan activity, the church now uses it to share the Gospel with those from the community who came to the church for the egg hunt (assuming the church was missional minded and invited the community to the church for the egg hunt).
            My personal answer and conviction, as you’ve probably already guessed, is that churches should choose to open their doors to the community to allow the community to be a part of a Christianized pagan practice—even Easter egg hunts. I’ve been a part of churches and under ministers who preached against Easter’s pagan sides, and in their desire to be holy and set a part, they missed great ministry opportunities. Interestingly, I’ve seen a greater Gospel proclamation in the churches and pastors who desired to be holy and set apart while being a part of the community in sharing the Gospel (through things like egg hunts), allowing them to speak into the community by being a part of the community through opening the church for community activities. I am a huge proponent of doing everything possible to turn pagans into Christians and pagan practices into opportunities for evangelism and discipleship.

In summation: If Jesus can redeem my life, Jesus can redeem and transform a pagan practice like an Easter Egg hunt for His use and for His glory.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Kim Kardashian, the Worth of Women, and Ephesians 5

Confession: No I have not seen the pictures of Kim Kardashian in Paper Magazine, but the headlines on my Facebook News Feed and the posts from my friends about the pictures leaves me not wanting to imagine anything to do with these pictures.

Culture says, "A woman has the right to do with her body as she pleases." Yes, we hear this statement in the context of abortion debates, women being supported for their roles in pornographic material, and other sexual contexts. Is there anything inherently wrong with this statement? Yes, Contemporary western culture promulgates this statement that does not build up women, but rather, this statement objectifies women to the place where women are only viewed as a discardable object. Every time women are objectified, they are shackled to the sexual desires and worthlessness of a man seeking his pleasure at her expense. This shackles women to the sexual desires of a man, while relegating a man's relationships to seeking a man's desires at the expense of another's humanity.

For men who do not have the best interest of the woman at heart, these men only desire to make a woman into an object for their own selfish desires.

At the core of this idea are abuses to women. Instead of respecting a woman's body, culture says to  show-off her body so as to desecrate her body to the selfish-abusive desires of a man. In doing so, culture also says that a woman should do as she pleases by being able to decide when she carries and does not carry a child in her womb; and at the core of the idea that women can be made into a sex object, there stands a coward of a man who decides not to love and cherish a woman, but to rather use up her beauty, purity, and fantastic qualities to only throw her away when he has so discredited her that she is worthless to him, even as a sexual object.

Let me ask you, "What happens to Kim when the next sex object catches the eye of the public? What will happen to every woman who is objectified into a sex object when another sex object catches the eye of her pursuer? These men will discard Kim and every other woman like a piece of trash to trade for a new "figure" and a new "physique" that satisfies these men all the more Are you really comfortable that men desire to use up a woman and throw her away so that he can move on to his next conquest?" Should we accept people as disposable?

Any man who views women as only meeting his needs will move on and leave women broken, looking for love that she will likely never find, looking for wholeness in an environment broken by false hope and false assurance, and she will be left to live with the mindset that her worth is only in what she can do and not in who she is.

You say that Kim is beautiful and she should share her natural beauty with the whole world, but you too have bought into the lie that selling a woman's body for sex is not objectifying them and lowering the value of a woman. Do we see the emotional baggage Kim lies down in bed with every night (yes, that baggage can be Kanye)? Do we see the inner struggle she has for worth? Do we see the impact she has on women who suffer from not being loved and validated? No, we are too busy seeing her as an object and not a person; thereby, making her out to be an emotionless object that only gratifies our desires.

What do we expect though from a culture that does not value creation? At the heart of the pervasive atheistic worldview of many people in the world, people are only an accident and people have no purpose. Does this worldview account for the worth that we place in those we love? No. Does this worldview account for the need to love and cherish one another? No. How could this worldview account for these things if we are all accidents?

The Biblical Christian worldview accounts for men and women being created for a purpose and having worth: to glorify God through living a life that He gives to them. The relationship of man to woman is seen in few Scriptures better than Ephesians 5.

Ephesians 5:22–33 (ESV)

22Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30because we are members of his body. 31“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Many of us read this passage and only see that a man has authority over a woman, but is that the point of the Scripture? No. Here, Paul tells the Ephesian church that the relationship of husband to wife is the same structure as the relationship of Christ to the Church. Did you see that? 

As the leader of the Church, Christ does not push Himself onto the Church and He does not authoritatively tell the Church what to do, but rather, He serves the Church in order to lead the Church. Christ sacrificed Himself for the Church because the Church mattered to Him. Christ desires to sanctify, nourish, and cherish the Church because He loves the Church as the Church is in Him. Christ does not objectify the Church because Christ has the best interest of the Church at His heart, in the same way that men should not objectify women based on man's desires.

Look at how Paul talks about the relationship between men and women: this relationship is based on Christ and His Church. Before the Church was even the Church, Christ gave Himself up for her. Christ did not objectify the Church, plan to abuse it, plan to discard it, or even plan to move on to something different. No, by dedicating His life to the Church, Christ showed His love and commitment to the Church. Why wouldn't the Church want to follow His lead? In the same way, when a man gives up himself for his wife to better her, what woman would not trust and admire this man enough to follow his leadership? What man who would give up himself for his wife would look down on her instead of seeing her as his equal? A man who values Christ will see and tree women as Christ values and treats the church. This man will one day nurture, love, lead, and serve his wife because she is worth it to him.

Which way raises up women and prizes them more? Are women more prized individualistically as sex object like our culture promulgates or through the eyes of a Christian man who desires to better his wife to be more like Christ? Isn't it interesting that every woman desires to be loved, led and served? Shouldn't we say that these feelings are given to women by God so that they may fulfill their role as representing the Church in the marital context as the husband fulfills his role in the marital context? Shouldn't we spend more time teaching men how to love and prize women instead of objectifying women to only meet their needs? I think we should teach men to love and prize women as God's beautiful Creation.

Men should so prize women that men do not have to fulfill their sexual desires immediately in women, but rather, men should see their future wife as the only prize that they wish to be emotionally, physically, sexually, and psychologically bound to for the rest of their life. It is a shame that a whole generation of men only see women as objects and not prizes, worth of giving our lives for.

This is not just about porn, this is about the worth of women.

Ladies, do not let a guy talk you into "giving up" yourself to them unless it is your wedding night. Ladies, do not let a guy talk you into sending THAT picture to him. Only a husband who cherishes you as Christ cherishes the Church should be deserving of all of you. A boy who only wants to gratify his raging desires does not deserve the precious gift of your body because he does not truly care for you, but instead, he cares only for himself. Only someone who cares for you says something like, "Sweetheart, put the clothes back on and rest from trying so hard to be like the world. You are beautiful, prized, blessed, and God's perfect creation. I don't need your body to make me love you or even be happy. How can I serve you and lead you in a way to grow, nourish, and meet your needs?"

For those of you who are reading this and you still believe that Kim and other women should share their bodies with the world, sleep around, and give themselves as objects to others; are you willing to act like the magazine and crumple up every precious woman and throw her into the trash like a wadded up piece of paper? Are you willing to continue to objectify women as only flesh that sexually pleases others? 

Men, man up and cherish women, not for your own desires, but because every woman is worthy of being loved as Christ loves the Church. When men cherish women and women fall under the leadership of a man who loves, serves, and gives himself up for her, then the world will see how much Jesus loves His Church. 

Women, see that you are valuable as more than an object. See that your purpose is not to meet the desires of a man, but to worship and live for God.

We all have the opportunity to love and cherish each other in the relationship of Christ to the Church; don't crumple it up and throw it away like Paper Magazine did.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

An Extraordinary God in Ordinary Circumstances

Many people discredit the Bible because the languages, genres, and ideas of the Bible mimic those of nations, people groups, and religions around the time the Bible was written. These critics say that Biblical authors simply borrowed their material from surrounding nations in order to create their own religious view(s) of the world. In order to evaluate and criticize this argument, something needs to be said: all religions, philosophies, law codes, cultures, people groups, etc., have some sort of truth in their beliefs. Now, I am not advocating pluralism or saying that everything in all religions is true, but all false religions developed from some truths that the religion later warped. One example can be found in the way that religions see God or gods only speaking through extraordinary ways. Because of this, critics associate the “ordinary” language, references, stories, genres, literary devices, etc. by saying that there is not an extraordinary God behind these “ordinary” writings. Basically, the problem that these critics have with the Bible is what I’d like to call, “An Extraordinary God in Ordinary Circumstances.”

Spoiler Alert: I will not be dealing with the Documentary Hypothesis or any other textual criticisms, but I will be dealing with various questions proposed by both critics and believers.

Why couldn’t an extraordinary God speak through ordinary circumstances?

If God of the Bible created everything, then why wouldn’t the ordinary be an extraordinary way for Him to speak? Think about this: if God wanted His truths to be communicated with the ordinary man, it would only make sense for God to use the medium of the writings of the day as a way to communicate with mankind. Think about it this way, if God only spoke through burning bushes to certain individuals, how extraordinary is that in light of the surrounding religions during the time of the Bible’s penning? Surely we can see a contrast between the God of the Bible and the gods of the pagan world as the God of the Bible spoke to man through a calm voice; whereas, the gods of the pagan world were to only speak through incantation, environmental disaster, and the most supernatural ways possible. In an astronomical percentage of accounts, the God of the Bible used an ordinary circumstance to speak to individuals in an extraordinary way.

Why do we search for extraordinary communication when God uses the ordinary?

Have you ever watched a local Gospel television station? Many of these stations place a huge amount of validity on prophecy fulfillment. I think that our preoccupation with prophecy fulfillment reveals our desire to be in the middle of God’s work- where he speaks to us. Truly, our desire is to be found in the extraordinary activity of God so that we can hear from Him, but what does that do with ordinary life? Although we have a desire to be in God’s extraordinary works, mankind has created a theology of God only being able to speak in ways which are outside mankind’s normal circumstances; and that's extraordinarily sad.

How can we hear from God in the ordinary?

The question many Christians ask themselves is something along the lines of, “In ordinary things like eating, playing sports, working, talking with others, etc., does God speak to me?” God’s answer is a resounding, “Yes!” As the Holy Spirit is in the life of the individual believer, God is able to speak to an individual in the ordinary. As we eat, play, work, talk, etc., God is always desiring to share things with His children. After all, God provided His Word, fellow believers, prayer, and worship as ways to communicate with Him—doesn’t that say that God wants to communicate with us?

God speaks to us in the ordinary. Don’t you think that God speaking to us in the ordinary is actually quite extraordinary? Are we listening? Are you listening? What has He revealed to you lately?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An Apologetic Response to Jehovah's Witnesses

Forgive the formatting issues between Word and this site:

An Overview of the Purpose and Strategy
                                                            The purpose of this paper is to both, explain, and refute the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In doing so, I will begin with the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ perspective, and then I will refute their assertions with Scripture, history, culture, and logic. By using literature from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, critics of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, scholarly resources, and the Bible, I plan to prove that the Jehovah’s Witness religion is indeed false.
Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Beginnings
                                                            A man by the name N.H. Barbour was an Adventist preacher who preached about the end of the world, dispensationalism, and other various theologies, and a young man named Charles Taze Russell, listened with attentive ears in 1870. Russell had been searching for spiritual truth for two years since the age of 16 when he “encountered rationalism and experienced a profound loss of faith. He recovered by moving first to Congregationalism and then to Adventist meetings before starting his own Bible study groups.”[1] Coupled with Russell’s desire to find truth, and the prevailing notion of the day being that the world would end, when Russell met his future mentor, it is very likely to see why Russell accepted the Adventist’s theology.
                                                            As Russell grew in his beliefs, he “came into possession of a copy of the Second Adventist magazine The Herald of the Morning, published by N.H. Barbour of Rochester, New York,” and soon travelled to Philadelphia to study under Barbour.[2]  Although the duo had many profitable years together, the two had a falling out over Christ’s payment for sins and “He [Russell] took with him a number of Second Adventist followers who believed that “Pastor Russell took the place of Mr. Barbour who became unfaithful and upon whom was fulfilled the prophecies of Matthew 24:48–51 and Zechariah 11:15–17.”[3] This schism was what caused Russell to begin his own study groups, as well as publishing his own work, Zion’s Watchtower, in 1879 .[4]
                                                            Now, with Russell theologically sound—in regards to his own beliefs­—he began to publish his own literature and to focus on increasing his following. Russell began to travel, preach, and plant his own churches in the northeast portion of America. His preaching focused on proclaiming the coming apocalypse, the need to join his sect, and the theological assertions found in Zion’s Watchtower’s publications.[5]
                                                            In summary, Russell began the Jehovah’s Witnesses[6] in the 1870’s in Northeast America because of a split with his Adventist mentor, Barbour. Upon the creation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Russell had a main literature resource in Zion’s Watchtower that included theology, up to date news on the sect, and encouragement to the local churches. Also, Russell traveled, preached, and established multiple Jehovah’s Witnesses churches.
                                                            As the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ website says of the 1,870 years between Jesus’s time and the creation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “The time came for Jehovah to reveal the truth. He foretold that during ‘the time of the end, the true knowledge would become abundant.’ (Daniel 12:4) In 1870 a small group of truth-seekers recognized that many church doctrines were not Scriptural. Therefore, they began searching for an understanding of the Bible’s original teachings, and Jehovah blessed them with spiritual insight.”[7] In other words, the original and contemporary Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that they are the “pure and undefiled religion” which stays closest to the original message of the Scripture. They believe that through their sincere desires to study the Scripture, truth will be revealed to them.[8] Through these Bible Study groups (similar to what Russell did) and the help of the Watchtower, Jehovah’s Witnesses hope to discover and promote what they deem to be true.[9]
A Critique of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Beginnings
In the 1870’s, America was still in the aftermath of the Civil War. This period of Reconstruction was a testing of the rebellious South’s will to both rebuild and be under the Union’s control. The 1870’s were a decade of time that began new economic policies, reunited families, expanded governmental control in the South, and fostered rebellious attitudes among many who felt they were forced into submission.
            In fact, America had experienced multiple changes in the one hundred years prior to the 1870’s. America had been born as a nation, fought multiple wars, expanded westward, experienced the Second Great Awakening, and become economically sufficient. Although all of these events were crucial for the emergence of America, the Second Great Awakening, lasting “from 1787 to 1825, sweeping the land from East to West,”[10] had one of the most important impacts on the American psyche.[11]
Of the socio-cultural changes that the Second Great Awakening brought, none was as significant than the movement giving women a newfound place in society.[12] In addition, the Second Great Awakening also provided freedom to many people, enabling to proclaim their own messages; thus, opening the door for many different theological views to be spread across North America. The spread of multiple views of religion was validated in what the Second Great Awakening used to validate its preachers (and their messages): experientialism.[13] Since experientialism was abundant, one can see that an emotional preacher with bad theology was to be more widely accepted than a preacher who was non-emotional with good theology.
All of these events, when coupled with the Enlightenment’s focus on “rational and scientific” thought in every matter, caused major upheaval in the religious realms of North America as “religious teachings of the Enlightenment challenged traditional Christianity.”[14] Thus, not only were the young nation’s economic, governmental, and cultural identities at stake during this time period, but America’s religious identity was far from as clear in comparison to other nations’ religious identity. As other nations had a church and theologies with which they identified themselves, America identified with the freedom of religion and an abundance of differing theologies. As other nations and regions promoted certain doctrines, America gave a safe haven for anyone to come and practice their own beliefs.[15]
During 1830, John Darby came to America after a schism with groups (with which he was apart of)[16] and preached a new theology called “’Dispensationalism’ after the division of history into eras or dispensations,”[17] which became a major tenant for the Congregationalist’s and Adventists.[18] This new theology influenced the creation of many new Christian denominations (Adventists and Congregationalists were the longest lasting and most prominent of them) and religions. Additionally, this theology—which pictured the end of the world being near due to the timing of the dispensations—was quickly re-emphasized in America by many ministers, in part to the social, cultural, economical, and governmental actions occurring during this time period.  As one scholar commented about the millennial views of America, “From the beginning, Americans have been susceptible to millenarian hopes. Puritans believed that God had sent them on an ‘errand into the wilderness’ to set up the ideal Christian church and commonwealth.”[19] This view was found in the  Postmillenial view, which Shirley Jackson once commented on by saying,
“The course of history exhibits one long process of evolving struggle by which humanity as a whole rises constantly higher in the scale of civilization and attainment…the world is found to be constantly growing better…man learns to surmise that evils still unconquered are to be eliminated by strenuous effort and gradual reform rather than by the catastrophic intervention of Deity.”[20]

Surely as this idea was prominent among the early colonials, but the view soon sufficed to a new view of the millennium. Undoubtedly, this was impart to bloody wars, social unrest, and the realization that America was going to be on the same course as other nations in the world.[21] Thus, as the postmillennial view declined in popularity[22] to a refocusing on an older and more widely accepted premillennial view, as there came a new perspective on eschatology that focused on the end of the world.[23] This focus on the end of the world that preoccupied America, coupled with the neglect for proper hermeneutics in regard to the interpretation of Scripture, a desire to find oneself fulfilled in prophecy, and the pressing social, religious economical, and cultural issues of the day caused various denominations and religions to be created—including the Jehovah’s Witnesses.[24]
By showing the cultural, societal, economical, and religious atmosphere of the day, one must conclude that the origins of the Jehovah’s Witnesses were merely a product of presuppositions of the times. In Blomberg’s Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, the majority of his work is dedicated to tracing the history of interpretive processes from the early church to today, where by, he shows that presuppositions which focus away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to their own theologies often cause divergent denominations in Christianity and the creation of divergent religions from Christianity.[25]. During his examination of these processes, one thing becomes apparent: contextual factors play a large role in directing the interpretation of Scripture—especially prophetic material. Given his conclusions, one can clearly see where many of the ideas for the Dispensational-Premillennial views of Jehovah’s Witnesses derive. Because of the social, religious, economical, and cultural unrest of the 1870’s in America, the stage was set for the Jehovah’s Witnesses to be accounted for in the search for eschatological beliefs.
Additionally, a question comes to mind when evaluating the beginnings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Why did God wait 1870 years to reveal truth?” As mentioned earlier, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that they are the true worshippers of God “due to pagan ideas which made their way into Christianity.”[26] Although the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe themselves to be the one true version of Christianity, one must consider their leader’s (Russell) lack of theological education, lack of knowledge of the original languages, and changing religious structure which did not enable him to made broad interpretations of Scripture that would trump a scholar’s past interpretations. In other words, if the leader who started the Jehovah’s Witnesses was not fit to be in a scholarly class of individuals, yet he made propositions in regards to the study of the theology of the Bible, he claimed to have studied the original languages of the Bible, and was extremely confused in his search for truth, these things give credit to how unqualified he was to make bold theological claims that differentiated himself and his followers from Christianity.

The Watchtower Organization
                                                            After Russell’s split from the Adventist church, he “began publishing his magazines, Zion’s Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.[27] It was not until “1896, the Society was renamed the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.”[28] According to The Watchtower’s Publications, the purpose of The Watchtower is to be God’s mouthpiece on earth. Additionally, “The Watchtower claims to be Jehovah’s prophet who speaks in His name under angelic direction to warn us of the future, the biblical test of a prophet stipulated by Moses and Jesus must be applied to this modern-day prophet.”[29] Because the Watchtower speaks for God, the Watchtower promotes the idea, “…that through this [Watchtower] organization—and no other—that God allegedly teaches the Bible to humankind today. According to the Watchtower Society, people are unable to ascertain the true meaning of Scripture without its vast literature…Unless a person is in touch with the Watchtower Society, it is claimed, he or she will not progress spiritually even if that person reads the Bible regularly.”[30] In other words, the Watchtower has made their publications superior to the New World Translation, making the Watchtower in Brooklyn, New York, the ultimate authority for a Jehovah’s Witness.
                                                            The Watchtower claims its authority from various verses like Matthew 24:45-51, Acts 8:30-31, and 2 Peter 1:20-21. From Matthew 24, The Watchtower claims to represent the servant; from Acts 8, the Watchtower claims to be the way that individuals understand the Scripture (since the Ethiopian Eunuch could not understand the Scripture without someone telling him what it meant); from 2 Peter 1:20-21, the Watchtower claims to be the way by which an individual receives an interpretation of prophecy’s fulfillment (because of the wording of the NWT, “no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation.”).[31] Thus, according to the Watchtower, it acts as a servant, prophecy interpreter, and expert in the scriptures. By acting in these three ways, the Watchtower acts as the headquarters and the leader of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Critiquing The Watchtower Organization
                                                            An excellent place to begin the critique of The Watchtower, is by asking Rhodes’ question, “Since The Watchtower Society claims to be God’s collective faithful slave that alone guides people in their understanding of Scripture, and since this organization did not come into existence until the late-nineteenth century, does this mean God had no true representatives on earth for many centuries? Does this mean God did not care whether people understood the Bible for all those centuries?”[32] The belief that the Watchtower is God’s mouthpiece and authority contradicts Jesus’ words in John 14:16 when He tells of the coming Counselor, which is “the Greek παρακλετοσ. This word was used of legal assistants who pleaded a cause or presented a case. This Counselor is the promised Spirit who came into the world in a new and distinctive sense on the day of Pentecost.”[33] So, if the Holy Spirit came as the great Counselor to convict, lead, inspire, and judge, the creation of the Watchtower in 1896 could not be the mouthpiece of God.
                                                            By exegeting the Scriptures mentioned in the above section (Matthew 24:45-51, Acts 8:30-31, and 2 Peter 1:20-21), one can clearly see that the Watchtower does not “fulfill” any type of prophecy that may be gleaned from these verses. For instance, Matthew 24:45-51, points to three things,
“(1) God rewards and punishes people at the final judgment on the basis of their stewardship of the tasks assigned to them. (2) Faithful stewardship requires perseverance and consistency, for the end could come at any time. (3) Those who postpone their responsibilities and do evil in the meantime may sadly discover that it is too late for them to make amends for their errors.”[34]

Acts 8:30-31 which mentions the Ethiopian Eunuch, does not point to an individual needing a society to interpret Scripture, but “His response enunciates a basic principle that runs throughout Luke-Acts concerning the interpretation of the Old Testament prophetic texts—the need for a Christian interpreter…They in turn sought to explain the Scripture in light of Christ to the Jews in Jerusalem. How indeed would this Gentile pilgrim from a distant land understand the real meaning of Isaiah’s servant psalms without a guide?[35]” Thus, the need for the Phillip to interpret the Scriptures to the Eunuch was not solely based on man’s inability to understand Scripture without an interpreter, but this story shows the need for teachers to teach the Holy Scriptures in light of Jesus Christ—not the belief’s of an organization.
Last, 2 Peter 1:20-21 is wrongly exegeted by Jehovah’s Witnesses. 2 Peter 1:20-21 says, “…knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” As Rhodes says, “This passage is not dealing with how to interpret Scripture but rather deals with how Scripture came to be written.”[36]
Sadly, the Watchtower has exegeted Scripture incorrectly and has thus made itself the mouthpiece of man’s ideas. Through exegeting Scripture incorrectly the Watchtower, since 1896, continues to lead people astray. Although the Watchtower is the leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Watchtower is not an authority on God’s Word because of its desires to interpret the Bible only in terms of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ theology and not the original message of the Scriptures.
The New World Translation
                                                            Although the Jehovah’s Witnesses have strongly opposed and still oppose many of the theologies of mainstream protestants, the Jehovah’s Witnesses used the same Bible as protestants used until 1950 when the Jehovah’s Witnesses created their own holy book.[37] In 1950, the Watchtower released this statement about the New World Translation, “We offer no paraphrase of the Scriptures…as literal a translation as possible … as nearly as possible, word for word, the exact statement of the original. We realize that sometimes the use of a so small a thing as the definite or indefinite article or the omission of such may alter the correct sense of the original passage.”[38] Their goal for the NWT was finished through various releases of books and sections of the both the New and Old Testament until they had a completed work. Even though their goal was for a translation to be as “literal a translation as possible,” there were multiple changes to the NWT from the original manuscripts. Of the changes, three of the most prominent changes in comparison to the Bible:
1.     “There are more than 230 insertions of Jehovah
2.     Other verses in the New World Translation are rendered in such a manner that they no longer appear to teach the deity of Christ or the personality of the Holy Spirit.
3.     Certain other verses that pertain neither to the name Jehovah nor to the subject of deity are given unusual renderings in the New World Translation to support various other Watchtower doctrines.”[39]

As Protestant translation committees (who are publicly recognized for aiding in a translation [public recognition gives accountability to the work of these scholars]) are made up of Hebrew and Greek scholars who perform the various translations of the Christian Protestant Bible, “The Watchtower Society has always resisted efforts to identify members of the translation committee. The claim was that they preferred to remain anonymous and humble, giving God the glory for this translation.”[40] According to the religion’s website, these committees seek to find the best English translation, “They endeavor to select the ‘accurate words of truth’ that will capture the full meaning of the English in their target language.”[41]
Additionally, the NWT is merely the book containing the Scripture that the Watchtower Organization explains, interprets, and applies to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. As Morey says about the Watchtower’s role in the Jehovah’s Witness’ study of the NWT, “All religious issues are solved in Brooklyn, and nowhere else can the truth be found…The Bible as correctly interpreted by the Watchtower has authority, but a Witness is trained not to trust himself or others to interpret the Bible.”[42] Thus, the NWT is a book of references to the Watchtower, not the authority by which the Watchtower operates.
Critiquing the New World Translation
                                                            The NWT is unique in regards to other Bible translations in that this translation “is misleading, and heavily biased in favor of Watchtower Society Theology.”[43] Why is the NWT misleading, and heavily biased? Raymond Franz commented about the translators of the NWT by naming and commenting on the individuals in the committee that translated the NWT (and commenting on their lack of knowledge), “Other members of that committee were Nathan Knorr, Albert Schroeder and George Gangas. Fred Franz, however, was the only one with sufficient knowledge of the Bible languages to attempt translation of this kind. He had studied Greek for two years at the University of Cincinnati but was only self-taught in Hebrew.”[44] For the translators of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ holy book to be incompetent in the original languages, reveals the goal of the Watchtower: theological changes to the Bible in order to promote the theological agenda of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The first foundational change to the New World Translation was the changing of every reference to God in the Old Testament to the name “Jehovah,” and the insertion of the name “Jehovah” into the New Testament’s references to the Father in 237 instances.[45] This change was fundamentally inaccurate and heretical as the “translators” made changes and additions to the original manuscripts’ original wording in regards to the names of God.
Secondly, the translators made the NWT show Jesus as not being equal with the Father (see the above section on Jesus).[46] In fact, every occurrence in the Greek New Testament where Jesus appears to have God-like qualities, For instance, in Greek, Colossians 1:16-17 says, “ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, τὰ ὁρατὰ καὶ τὰ ἀόρατα, εἴτε θρόνοι εἴτε κυριότητες εἴτε ἀρχαὶ εἴτε ἐξουσίαι· τὰ πάντα διʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται· καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν πρὸ πάντων καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν.[47] In the NWT, Colossians 1:16-17 reads, 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.[48] The additions of “other” (αλλος) does not occur in the Greek manuscripts; but, this verse in the NWT translates, “that Christ was created first by the Father, and then Christ was used by the Father to creat all other things in the universe…There is no justification from the Greek texts for inserting the word ‘other’ into Colossians 1:16-17 four times…Colossians 1:16 teaches that Christ created ‘all things.’ This being so, Christ cannot be a created being…”[49] These additions and changes are among other theological changes to the original manuscripts (which the Christian Bible derives) which are theologically based and not textually based; thus, making the NWT a worthless translation.
Third, the change in theological interpretation is a tremendous impact on the holy book of both Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses. For the above-mentioned reasons, changing or adding words in the NWT which are different to the original manuscripts, creates a gigantic exegetical problem. Not only does the text read incorrectly, but the interpretation of the text is also wrong; thus, causing the individual to act wrongly and believe wrongly about God.
Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Prophecy
                                                            The Jehovah’s Witnesses have had a long history of a preoccupation with foretelling prophecy. As mentioned earlier, their beliefs focus on the “end of the world” through Dispensationalistic eschatology; thus, making them susceptible to studying foretelling prophecy. The Watchtower has made multiple predictions about the timing of the end of the world, the destruction of the “false Christians,”[50] the returning of the members of Hebrews 11 to earth, the rule of the Antichrist, and other various end-times prophecies.[51] Originating with Russell’s own prophecies, the Watchtower has continually produced prophecies about the “end of time.” Additionally, by reading the prophecies that are included in both Rhodes’s works and the Watchman Fellowship’s works, one can see that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ prophecies preoccupy themselves with the punishment of the evil, pagan religions and the deliverance of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.[52]
Critiquing Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Prophecy
                                                            Although the Jehovah’s Witnesses primarily study prophecy in regards to “things to come,” foretelling is not the goal of the majority of prophecy in the Scriptures. In fact, there is a stark difference between foretelling (in regards to the future) and forthtelling (a message for the immediate time). As one scholar comments, “Foretelling…was not the primary role of the prophet. The prophets were primarily “forth tellers” rather than foretellers. Their first concern was their own contemporaries, not some future generation. When predictions did occur, they inevitably contained admonitions to move the people toward holiness. More nonpredictive content is found in the prophetical books than predictive.”[53]
                                                            Originating with Russell’s own prediction that “Christ’s presence and the harvest began in 1874,”[54] the foretelling prophecies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have always been wrong. Of one of the most well-know false prophecies was the prophecy about Beth-Sarim.[55] When the prophecy did not come to pass, the Watchtower had to change their incorrect prophecy and as Dr. Walker of the Watchman Fellowship said in a lecture, “The Jehovah’s Witnesses have to talk their way out of the problem.” In fact, a 1929 addition of the Watchtower said, “Beth-Sarim was built in 1929 as proof that the resurrection would soon take place.”[56] but after the prophecy did not come true, the Watchtower changed their prophecy (in a 1975 issue of Watchtower) and stop production of the older magazines so that all the readers read and believed, “Beth-Sarim was built for Brother Rutherford’s use.”[57] This change in prophecy shows the need of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to cover up their false prophecies in order to retain its members.
                                                            By making prophecy solely about the subject of foretelling and not forthtelling, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have lost sight of preaching the Gospel for the immediate people in trade for preaching things that have not happened—and likely will not. Tragically, by making statements like their comment from a 1964 publication, “Through God’s agency he is having prophesying carried out. Jehovah is behind all of it,”[58] the Jehovah’s Witnesses associate God with the false prophecies and not the Watchtower. Thus, the Watchtower often appears to be the innocent when say that various prophecies were incorrect, all the while making God the enemy. This causes many people to either remain and Jehovah’s Witness and trust the Watchtower more than God, or to leave the’s Witnesses and have a corrupted vision of God.
Jehovah, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ God
                                                            Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that the name of the one true God is “Jehovah.” They believe that Jehovah is the verbal version of the Old Testament’s “YHWH.” Because this is the holiest of names used by Old Testament writers (specifically the author of the Pentateuch) and is included in Exodus 3:15 as the name which would “last forever,” Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that this is the non-corrupted name of God; thus, meaning that Jehovah should be the only name by which mankind should refer to God as.
Critiquing the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ God, Jehovah
Where did the name “Jehovah” originate? As Mark Powell says,
“The word is formed by adding vowels to an English transliteration of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, or four consonants that stand for God’s name, which is not to be pronounced aloud. Those consonants are usually rendered as YHWH in modern transliterations of Hebrew, but JHVH was used at the time of the kjv. Likewise, in modern biblical studies the Tetragrammaton is sometimes vocalized to produce the name ‘Yahweh,’ which is a modern equivalent to ‘Jehovah.’”[59]
By seeing that this name for God did not appear in its current form until English speakers created the name, it is evident that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ dogmatic emphasis on primarily using Jehovah as the name for God is a fallacy. For Jehovah’s Witnesses to refer to God solely by the name Jehovah, is not only a linguistic stretch, but it is also a theological stretch. As one scholar states, “Among Semites the equation of the name and the person was a common idea. So also the name of God was an interchangeable term for God himself, a symbol of his activity in revelation. The linking of man’s worship of God with the divine name of God was the medium of his operation.”[60] By this, God had many different names which described His various attributes and activity in the lives of His people, Israel. In the same way that a person named Pete may be called a firefighter, friend, husband, father, etc., none of these names changed Pete, they only described his actions at a given time. Some of God’s various names ranged from Elohim (omniscience) to Adonai, meaning, “…an intimate and personal relationship”.[61] Thus, God had many names, with none overshadowing the other in order of preference as the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ believe. These various names did not theologically trump other names, but they rather complimented one another. As one discusses the love of God, one cannot help but discuss the Salvation of God. Additionally, one cannot speak of the Salvation of God without mentioning the judgment of God.
Jehovah’s Witnesses’ View of Jesus
                                                            “In Watchtower theology, Jesus Christ is a mere angel—the first one that God created when he started created angels. Witnesses identify Christ as Michael the archangel, although they call Jesus ‘the Son of God’—because ‘the first spirit person God made was like a firstborn son to him.’”[62] Jehovah’s Witnesses view Jesus as the first created, by which God created all other things.[63] By viewing Jesus as the first created individual, Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot give equal status to both Jesus and Jehovah. As something created is merely the image of the creator and not the exact copy, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is the Archangel Michael (one of the gods, but not equal to Jehovah the Almighty) from Daniel 10:13.[64]
Critiquing Jehovah’s Witnesses’ View of Jesus
                                                            First, Jesus Christ is the Son of God; Jesus is not an angel. By beginning with the idea that Jesus is an angel, this idea is quickly dispelled through Hebrews 1:5 (ESV), “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you?’ Or again, ‘I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son’”? and John 3:16 (ESV), “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” By seeing these two verses, one can clearly see that Jesus is not an angel, but is the Son of God.
Additionally, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have not always believed that Jesus is the Archangel Michael. From a Watchtower publication in 1896, Russell wrote, “‘Let all the angels of God worship him’ [that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence Michael is not the Son of God].”[65] Not until 1984 did the Watchtower publicly release their belief that Jesus and Michael are the same, “‘Michael the great prince’ is none other than Jesus Christ himself.—Daniel 12:1.’”[66] To see that nearly a hundred years passed from the original theology about Jesus Christ being God to the current theological standing of Jesus amongst Jehovah’s Witnesses, shows that the Watchtower has changed its theology in regards to the original beliefs about Jesus. If a prophet (the Watchtower) is the mouthpiece of God, (only saying what God tells them to say) then what does it say about the Watchtower and God when the theology about the Savior of the world changes in such a dynamic way? Arguably, the stark contradiction between the theologies about Jesus from the original Jehovah’s Witnesses to contemporary Jehovah’s Witnesses show the future of the Jehovah’s Witnesses—far away from Jesus and extremely close to the desires of sinful mankind.
                                                            One of the main theologies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is their doctrine of the 144,000 from the book of Revelation. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the 144,000 represent 144,000 of the “anointed class” of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the “Anointed Class” who “are born again, thereby becoming sons of God and heirs with Christ.”[67]This gathering of the 144,000 began at Pentecost in the first century and continued through the year 1935—at which time the number was completed and the door was closed.[68] These Anointed, are the only ones who are able to go to heaven. In fact, “The 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses who make up the Anointed Class will rule with Christ over the other sheep, who will be on earth.”[69]

Exegeting the 144,000
                                                            Revelation contains some of the most difficult passages to interpret. The 144,000 of Revelation 7 is a widely discussed theology among Christians today. Because of Revelation’s symbolic language, contextual, historical, and linguistic clues; an interpreter must interpret in pictures in light of contextual, historical, and linguistic clues.
By examining the verse context of Revelation 7:4, one can see that these 144,000 were likely the faithful Jewish converts who were protected from falling away from God despite persecution. This protection does not mean that they were spared from persecution, but that they were sealed to God despite the persecution. After all, the 144,000 are likely martyrs who died while remaining faithful to the message of Jesus because of the earlier identification of martyrs geographically and physical described must like the 144,000.[70]
                                                            Additionally, these 144,000 likely refer to the Jewish converts while the Multitude refers to the Gentile converts. David E. Aune says, “Since the author is undoubtedly a Jewih Christian, it is not particularly surprising that he would have envisioned a special role in the eschaton for Christians of Jewish origin. Paul struggled with the problem of the rejection of the Gospel by most Jews in Romans 9-11…nevertheless held out the eschatological hope that Israel would eventually be converted.”[71] As the author of Revelation was impacted by the persecution of Rome and the fear of persecution in Asia Minor, “John is using pictorial language to offer comfort and hope to Christian communities that are struggling to maintain their commitment to God during difficult circumstances.”[72] Although scholars say that the tribes of Israel did not exist during the days that Revelation was written, we know that “Josephus, writing at the end of the first century A.D., reckoned with the existence of twelve tribes in his day.”[73] Likely, this picture of the twelve tribes pointed to the faithfulness of God to redeem and keep secure those Jews who decided to follow Him and trust in Him for salvation. Thus, the picture of the 144,000 is not a picture of a certain set of Jehovah’s Witnesses centuries apart from the writing of Revelation, but rather it is a symbolic picture of the Jewish converts who worship God despite what the Roman Empire does to them.[74]
How to Evangelize a Jehovah’s Witness
                                                            A Jehovah’s Witness views themselves as living in the end days and thus believes that they will be persecuted for their beliefs. Because of this, evangelizing a Jehovah’s Witness needs to be done in a loving conversational manner with questions, propositions, and the avoidance of argumentation.[75] Someone once said, “Your actions are speaking so loud, I can’t hear what you are saying,” and in dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses, our actions of love should back up our words of Truth so that the Gospel penetrates their hearts without us firing darts of anger and frustration.
                                                            How do you evangelize a Jehovah’s Witness? We evangelize Jehovah’s Witnesses by allowing them to encounter truth, evaluate it, and act on it. In other words, as Jehovah’s Witnesses feel persecuted when people disagree with them, for a Christian to apologetically destroy what a Jehovah’s Witness believes will be inherently unproductive. Jehovah’s Witnesses are in fact, engaged in a cult like atmosphere where they may be “disfellowshiped” from the “family” for doing things against the wishes of the Watchtower. The fact is that being disfellowshiped from an individual’s family and friends is a heavy burden that the individual needs to evaluate the worth of being disfellowshiped in light of following and obeying the truth of the Gospel in contrast to the lies of the Watchtower.
                                                            In order to evangelize a Jehovah’s Witness, the best thing to do is to use original Watchtower publications which contradict the current ones, ask the Jehovah’s Witness about the contradictions, allow them to seek truth, and be ready to provide truth if the Jehovah’s Witness comes asking for truth. An encounter with a Jehovah’s Witness should be one where the Christian asks pressing questions, makes few propositions (that are not key to the conversation), and prays for the Holy Spirit to work in the life of the Jehovah’s Witness. This would look like welcoming a Jehovah’s Witness into your home, letting them share their material with you, and then asking questions about their material all the while showing them old material that contradicts the new material. By doing this in connection to the movement of the Holy Spirit, a Jehovah’s Witness may leave their religion and become a child of God.


Aune, David E., Revelation 6-16, Word Biblical Commentary, Columbia: Thomas Nelson, 1998.

Berkhof, L. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co., 1938.

Blomberg, Craig. Matthew. Vol. 22. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman &      Holman Publishers, 1992.

Blomberg, Craig L. and Hubbard, Robert L. Jr., and Kleign, William W., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation 2nd Edition, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004).

Blum, Edwin A. “John.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, 2:328. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.

Boyer, Paul, When Time Shall be No More, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992).

Cross, F. L., and Elizabeth A. Livingstone. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford;  New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Dubois, Ellen Carol, and Lynn Dumenil, Through Women's Eyes: An American History with Documents: Combined Version 2nd Edition, (Bedford: St. Martin’s, 2008).

Elwell, Walter A., and Barry J. Beitzel. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.

Franz, Raymond, Crisis of Conscience, (Atlanta, GA: Commentary Press, 2004).

Galli, Mark, and Ted Olsen. “Introduction.” In 131 Christians Everyone Should Know, 99. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000.

Hamilton, Donald L. Homiletical Handbook. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992.

Hofstader, Richard, Wood Gray, D. Steven eds., An Outline of American History. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1998.

Lightner, Robert P. The God of the Bible and Other Gods: Is the Christian God Unique Among World Religions? Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1998.

Morey, Robert A. How to Answer a Jehovah’s Witness. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship, 1980.

Reid, Daniel G., Robert Dean Linder, Bruce L. Shelley, and Harry S. Stout. Dictionary of Christianity in America. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990.

Polhill, John B. Acts. Vol. 26. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995.

Powell, Mark Allan. “Jehovah.” Edited by Mark Allan Powell. The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated). New York: HarperCollins, 2011.

Reddish, Mitchell G., Revelation, (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2001).

Reed, David A. Jehovah’s Witness Literature: Critical Guide to Watchtower Publication. Electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993.

Reed, David A. Jehovah’s Witnesses: Answered Verse by Verse. Electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986.

Reed, David A., David A. Reed, Steve Huntoon, and John Cornell, eds. Index of Watchtower Errors, 1879 to 1989. Electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990.

Rhodes, Ron, Conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2014).

Rhodes, Ron, The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2001).

Rusten, Sharon with E. Michael. The Complete Book of When & Where in the Bible and Throughout History. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2005.

Sunshine, Glenn S. Why You Think the Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009.

Whaley, John and James Walker. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Dating Game. Watchman Fellowship, Date: N/A.

“How Is Our Literature Written and Translated?” Jehovah’s Witnesses, Accessed March 2, 2014. http://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/jehovahs-will/literature-written-and-translated/

“How was Bible Truth Discovered?” Jehovah’s Witnesses, accessed March 17, 2014, http://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/jehovahs-will/bible-truth-rediscovered/

[1] Daniel G. Reid et al., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990).
[2] David A. Reed, Jehovah’s Witness Literature: Critical Guide to Watchtower Publication, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993), 14.
[3] Ibid, 14-15.
[4] Ibid, 15.

[5] David A. Reed, Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1986), 111.

[6] For the sake of this paper, there will be no defining between the early Bible study groups which Russell formed that later, in 1931, were officially called the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

[7]  “How was Bible Truth Discovered?” Jehovah’s Witnesses, accessed March 17, 2014, http://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/jehovahs-will/bible-truth-rediscovered/

[8] Ron Rhodes, The 10 Most Important Things You can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2001).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Sharon Rusten and E. Michael, The Complete Book of When & Where in the Bible and Throughout History (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2005), 322.
[11] The wars, economy, and politics were extremely vital to the emergence of America, but all these events prompted a geographical location that was free of one foundational religious view; thus, America allowed for religious liberty and the spread of various theologies. This religious liberty aided the creation of many modern denominations and cults (including the Jehovah’s Witness), which were allowed to promote their ideals in peace and equality.

[12] Ellen Carol Dubois and Lynn Dumenil, Through Women's Eyes: An American History with Documents: Combined Version 2nd Edition, (Bedford: St. Martin’s, 2008). During the Second Great Awakening, women were often allowed to prophecy, pray, and operate in many of the traditional roles occupied solely by men. When women expanded their roles and compromised the traditional roles with roles outside of the home or even of a higher status inside the home, the culture was greatly changed.

[13] According to Glenn Sunshine, although the experientialism was extremely high during the SGA, Edwards and Wesley along with a small group of preachers strongly denied the emotional preaching and stressed doctrine over experientialism. Even though there was a small group fighting against this experientialism, the majority of people active in the revival did not agree with Edwards and Wesley in regards to denying experientialism.

[14] Daniel G. Reid et al., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990).
[15] Henry Cabot Lodge, A Short History of the English Colonies in America (Berwyn Heights, MD: Heritage Books, 2012). Although there were some colonies (and then later states) which stressed their own doctrines and even persecuted those with other views, America was a nation which holistically accepted diverse views of religion. As Quakers, Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, etc. poured into America in the following centuries, America offered a safe haven from the political persecution of the religious groups in many European countries.

[16] F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. (Oxford;  New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).

[17] Mark Galli and Ted Olsen, “Introduction,” in 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 99.
[18] Mitchell Reddish, Revelation, (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2001). As noted, the dispensational theology became further widespread and accepted in many mainstream denominations through the publishing of the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909.

[19] Daniel G. Reid et al., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990).
[20] L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co., 1938), 717.
[21] Ibid, 718. The view of postmillennialism saw America as a new Israel; thus, a fresh attempt humanity of which God would bless and redeem. Postmillenialism viewed the millennial reign of Jesus as beginning with the formation of America. The individuals who held to this belief saw the world improving until Jesus ultimately returned (through social, economical, cultural reform), but the bloody wars, social unrest, and “worsening” of North America contributed to the demise of Postmillenialism and focus on the end of the world nearing.

[22] Although some may still hold this idea, the majority of individuals today hold to a premillennial eschatological view (when choosing between postmillennialism and premillianialism).

[23] Paul Boyer, When Time Shall be No More, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992). Since the world was not improving at the rate that many of the postmillenials believed that it would, the new view of premillenialism became widespread. This idea also began to be emphasized in the majority of the preaching, which focused on changing one’s life in order to avoid the pending Apocalypse.

[24] Reddish, 28. This work comments on the view of the end of the world by saying that the majority of interpreters of eschatology “always locate their present time as immediately prior to the final events…”  at the end of time. Thus, if individuals are always interpreting themselves at the end of time, the Scripture- which they are interpreting- loses its hermeneutical connection to the original author and readers.

[25] Craig L. Blomberg, Roert L. Hubbard Jr., and William W. Kleign, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation 2nd Edition, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 143.

[26] “How Was Bible Truth Rediscovered?” Jehovah Witnesses’ Website.

[27] Robert P. Lightner, The God of the Bible and Other Gods: Is the Christian God Unique Among World Religions? (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1998), 190.
[28] Ibid 190.
[29] Robert A. Morey, How to Answer a Jehovah’s Witness (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship, 1980), 40.
[30] Rhodes, The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness, 11. In this quote, references page 27 from The Watchtower issue on December 1, 1981.

[31] Ibid, 13-17.

[32] Ibid, 14.

[33] Edwin A. Blum, “John,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 328.
[34] Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 369.
[35] John B. Polhill, Acts, vol. 26, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 224–225.
[36] Rhodes, The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness, 15.

[38] David A. Reed et al., eds., Index of Watchtower Errors, 1879 to 1989, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990).
[39]Reed, Jehovah’s Witness Literature: Critical Guide to Watchtower Publication, 101.
[40] Ron Rhodes, Conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2014), 83-84.

[41]How Is Our Literature Written and Translated?” Jehovah’s Witnesses, Accessed March 2, 2014. http://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/jehovahs-will/literature-written-and-translated/

[42] Robert A. Morey, How to Answer a Jehovah’s Witness (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship, 1980), 14.
[43] Ron Rhodes, The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness, (Eugene: OR: Harvest House, 2001), 24.

[44] Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, (Atlanta, GA: Commentary Press, 2004), 56. Franz was a high-leveled Jehovah’s Witness prior to his departure from the Watchtower on May 28, 1980. He had spent 40 years as a Jehovah’s Witness and he was a member of the Governing Body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Since his departure from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, he
[45] Rhodes, The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness, 23.

[46] Ibid, 26.

[47] Michael W. Holmes, The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition (Lexham Press, 2010), Col 1:16–17.
[48] Rhodes, The 10 Things Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness, 27.

[49] Ibid, 27.

[50] According to Dr. Walker of the Watchman Fellowship, the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that they are the one true Christian religion and all other Christian denominations to be heretical. As Rhodes has also noted in many of his books about Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Jehovah’s Witnesses see themselves as the one pure religion of Jehovah.

[51] John Whaley and James Walker. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Dating Game. Watchman Fellowship. In this packet produced by the Watchman Fellowship, the premise of their work is to use false Watchtower prophecies to prove that the Watchtower is not trustworthy.  

[52] Ibid.

[53] Donald L. Hamilton, Homiletical Handbook (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992), 150. For prophets, their immediate concern is much like a modern pastor who desires his people to turn from their evil ways and to follow the Lord.
[54] David A. Reed, Steve Huntoon, and John Cornell, eds. Index of Watchtower Errors, 1879 to 1989. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990).

[55] Whaley and Walker. The prophecy about Beth-Sarim said that the individuals from Hebrews 11 were to come back to life and they were to live in a house (Beth-Sarim) that the Jehovah’s Witnesses built in San Diego, California. When the prophecy did not come to pass, Rutherford reworded the prophecy, moved into the house, and then died a few months later.

[56] Reed et al., eds., Index of Watchtower Errors, 1879 to 1989, electronic ed.
[57] Ibid.

[58] David A. Reed et al., eds., Index of Watchtower Errors, 1879 to 1989, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990).

[59] Mark Allan Powell, “Jehovah,” ed. Mark Allan Powell, The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated) (New York: HarperCollins, 2011), 434.

[60] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1751. The Semites were the people of the Fertile Cresent (Arabs, Arameans, Assyrians, Babylonians, Canaanites, Hebrews, and Phoenicians).
[61] Lightner, 136.
[62] Reed, Jehovah’s Witnesses: Answered Verse by Verse, 15.
[63] Rhodes, The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness, 41.

[64] Ibid, 42-43.

[65] Reed et al., eds., Index of Watchtower Errors, 1879 to 1989, electronic ed.
[66] Reed et al., eds., Index of Watchtower Errors, 1879 to 1989, electronic ed.
[67] Rhodes, Conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses, 179.

[68] Reed, Jehovah’s Witnesses: Answered Verse by Verse, 104.
[69] Ibid, 180. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that the “other sheep” are those whom Revelation references as the Multitude. The Jehovah’s Witnesses see everyone outside the 144,000 as inheriting the new earth where they will eternally dwell; despite being separated from God in Heaven.

[70] Reddish, 144-147. Reddish says that the 144,000 viewed to be martyrs, but does not make a distinction between Jew and Gentile. However, he does say, “The imagery depicts the church as the new people of God, the new Israel.”

[71] David E. Aune, Revelation, Word Biblical Commentary, (Columbia: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 441. Although Aune is used as a reference to exegete some Scriptures, his view of the 144,000 brings about an end-time depiction of the identity of the 144,000, not something during the day of John by which John likely referred.

[72] Reddish, 154.

[73] Aune, 442.

[74] Ibid, 154-155.

[75] Rhodes, Conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses, 22-26.