Earlier this summer Judy and I were visited by three Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW). Over the past three years one of them has come by (as part of differing groups of three) perhaps five or six times. This, however was the first time I was home to receive them. After brief chit chat we got down to a conversation regarding the differences between JW false teachings and our Biblical Christian worldview. There are of course many fundamental differences in our viewpoints. Using the Green Pines “What We Believe” Statement (http://greenpines.org/guests/what-we-believe) as a back drop, the more salient issues are as follows….
- Bible – JW’s use their own translation that twists the original language of Scripture to conform to their twisted theology (ex. John 1:1).
- Trinity & Jesus – JW’s consider only God the father as God. To consider Christ and the Holy Spirit as God, is a lie from Satan. Jesus is immortal, but not eternal as God’s first creation.
- Salvation – One must be a good, moral JW who has been baptized through emersion. One can never know if they are good enough until death.
- Eternal Condition – Everyone will get a second chance during the Millennial Kingdom to accept the faith tenants of JW and go to “heaven”. Those that still refuse will be annihilated as there is no such thing as Hell.
Today, Judy, Jenna (our daughter) and I sat down with two Mormons (LDS). There are major theological differences here as well. However, the LDS are much more subtle and less willing to clarify those differences. Some major ones include…
- Nearly everyone goes to one of three levels of “heaven”. Those who achieve the highest level ( “Celestial Heaven”) will be gods themselves and have their own planets to rule. There is a Hell, but since everyone is offered a second chance to accept the LDS theology after death (in “Spiritual Prison”) practically no one chooses Hell.
- Satan and Jesus are brothers, who are flesh and blood, just like us. We were all part of the two-thirds of the angels who did not rebel against God and have subsequently been re-born as humans.
- The LDS believe that their Prophets (leaders) have “continuing revelation” that allows for changing theology as the times change.
- The Bible is a source of truth but The Book of Mormon takes a superior position over the Bible and has been open to multiple updates over time.
- Trinity – God the Father and the Son are two distinct persons. The Holy Spirit is a force or fluid.
So, the commonality in these, and most other false teachings, is a works-based (rather than grace- based) theology. But, that’s not the point I want to make in this blog.
With both the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses there is a second, very significant commonality that I admit I stumbled into as we talked. Notice above that with both false teachings, one gets a second chance after death. This, by the way, has a similar theme in Catholicism related to the false concept of Purgatory.
With the sweet three JW ladies and the two young, white shirt and tie Mormons, toward the end of our time together, I summarized my position with the following…. “Do you realize that if your theology is correct, and Its rejected, we all get a second chance after death to go to paradise for eternity. However, if my theology is correct, your proselytizing is sending people to Hell for eternity with no second chance?” In the case of the JW’s they wished us well, said that we should love one another and should be able to agree to disagree. I responded, gently and respectfully, with the concept of righteous indignation (Jesus and the money changers John 2:13-16), choosing not to let them off the hook so easily knowing that they’re spreading a false gospel (Mat. 24:24, Acts 20:29) with each house they stop at. Today with the Mormons, as we wrapped up, the leader asked to close in prayer. I had already made clear that our theology limits us, as Biblical Christians, to a clear dichotomy of good or evil with no middle ground. This world may be full of shades of gray but God’s worldview only allows for these two states. My point to them was that Biblical Christians view their theology as satanic. So, when they wished to close in prayer, I asked if I could pray instead. The leader, in leaving, remarked that I did not respect them and their beliefs.
In the above situations, each of us has to strike a balance between loving our neighbor and righteous indignation. I am not suggesting I have struck the proper balance, but these limited encounters do not allow for building trust relationships that can grow into real opportunities to share God’s truth. To me IITim 4:1-5 applies to those who are going door to door preaching a false gospel.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”