January 28, 2023
Thank you for your hand-written note dated January 26, 2023, and the genuine care with which it was written. It’s always good to hear from a neighbor. My wife, Teresa, and I have lived in the area for 5 years and have 7 children. For the last 10 years, I have worked full-time for St. Paul Street Evangelization, an international Christian non-profit, while my wife educates our children at home.
You shared a Scripture passage with me, Revelation 21:4: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” This is a beautiful passage and a reminder of the outcome of the sacrificial work Jesus did for us on the Cross for those who believe in Him. As a Christian evangelist I have always appreciated the zeal Jehovah Witnesses have for evangelization, and your knowledge and ability to answer questions about your faith and traditions. When we set up on street corners we often see and have friendly conversations with Jehovah Witnesses that are also evangelizing.
If you will allow me, there are a couple of things that have always concerned me about the teachings of your faith. The first is the number of prophecies that turn out to be wrong, and the changing doctrine in your official publications. Publications such as Studies and The Watchtower have consistently predicted the end of the world, and have always been wrong about the date. For example: “The end of the six thousand years of man’s history in the fall of 1975 is not tentative, but is accepted as a certain date” (WT, 1-1-1968, 271). And doctrines keep changing: “There could be nothing against our consciences in going into the army” (WT, 4-15-1903, 120). “Due to conscience, Jehovah’s Witnesses must refuse military service” (WT, 2-1-1951, 73).
If doctrine constantly changes, how can you know what you believe today is true and revealed by God? What if it changes tomorrow? Especially if the Governing Body openly admits that it is subject to error? (“To Whom Shall We Go but Jesus Christ?”. The Watchtower. March 1, 1979. pp. 23–24). God promised to protect His Church from teaching error.
The most concerning though is how a mistranslation of the Bible in the New World Translation allows Jehovah Witnesses to deny the divinity of Jesus. In the NWT, John 1:1 is translated “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” Now, much ink has been spilled on this Bible passage, and it’s all readily available online. What it comes down to is a fundamental problem: Is there one God, and is Jesus God?
Please correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that The Watchtower Society denies the divinity of Jesus and His eternal pre-existence (but, like Arius taught, Jesus is only a creature, created by God). This is very serious. Our salvation from Hell rests on this question. We see the complete failure of each covenant (Adam, Abraham, Noah, Moses, David) in the Old Testament because each is made between God and man. God always keeps His promises, but man never keeps his promises. He can’t, because of his sinful nature. It is ultimately the great mystery of our faith that only the covenant between God qua God (the Father and the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit) can save us from our sins. I would invite you to read our essay on the subject in the enclosed pamphlet “The Divinity of Jesus in the Bible.”
If Jesus is not God, but a mere man, then His atoning sacrifice cannot save us from our sins. That’s because God demanded a perfect sacrifice, and all men are subject to sin and death (Romans 3:23). We are all “blemished” and tainted by Original Sin. Only God is perfect and can become the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Jesus’ sacrifice is a Paschal sacrifice, just like those in the Old Testament with Israelites, perfectly fulfilling the demands of God’s law. Jesus had a fully human nature and fully divine nature, in one person, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. Can our human minds fully comprehend it? No way. Is it true? Yes, as God himself has revealed.
If we don’t believe that Jesus is God, we cannot be saved. As someone who has had his own mind changed about Jesus, I hope you’ll keep exploring, and keep asking questions until you come into the fullness of truth.