Saturday, July 26, 2008

JW Study Meeting #4

Toay they showed up 45 minutes late. Evidently something in their schedule had changed or something, and they'd had something else they needed to do. Alright, so be it. They're darn lucky I was still (for some reason) waiting for them, especially since I'm not exactly known for this "patience" thing that I've heard mentioned in the fables... Anyway, "Shem" was no longer the second guy; now it was a fellow I'll call "Mephibosheth". I like that name.

Erm, so they showed up at quarter of 1, at long last, and I had all my materials on the table, because today was Chapter 4 from the What Does the Bible Really Teach? book: "Who Is Jesus Christ?" As I think I might've mentioned, I'd been meaning to prepare an essay defending the orthodox view of Jesus against various objections and such. Well... I'm a procrastinator, and so I had to do the bulk of it yesterday in a rush for probably about seven or eight solid hours, and add some more this morning, carefully rationing my time. (I used my opening statement from a debate I had a while back as a template.) After it came to around 24.5 pages, I set it to print and then went for a shower. So thus I had my materials prepared, plus some print-outs from Let God Be True and the Should You Believe in the Trinity? booklet.

Returning to the story at hand, I mentioned after a prayer that I had looked through the chapter and found some disagreeable portions, so we might have to deviate from the ordinary routine in some fashion. "Uriah" asked which part of the chapter I'd found questionable, and so I leafed through it and informed him that it was pp. 41-42, remarking "cuz we're Trinitarian folk 'round here". Uriah was quite surprised; his memory must've been failing, 'cuz he coulda sworn I was a non-Trinitarian. Oopsies. Anyway, since I also surprised them a bit by not having any real objections to most of the rest of the chapter, we agreed to spend this meeting on everything up through page 40, and then to tackle the meaty stuff the next time.

So, no real big excitement this time around, at least not the sort of excitement that would involve me spending an hour debating theology with folks. The material basically just covered the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, that he was proclaimed at his baptism, and a couple messianic OT texts (Micah 5:2 and Daniel 9:25). I talked a fair amount of the time--explaining first-century Jewish messianic expectations, mentioning various perspectives on who Jesus was/is, and likewise elaborating on some of the ridiculous suggestions atheists come up with for the miracles of Jesus. I also mentioned some stuff about Daniel 7, and so Uriah said that next time he'd bring me a book of some sort about Daniel, a point-by-point interaction with critical scholarship. Sounded interesting, and it goes without saying that I'm always ready to augment my library with something new and interesting. Oh, and Uriah told a story about a non-Trinitarian woman he met who didn't think her church believed in the Trinity, and who got a rather incredulous response from her pastor when she mentioned it... since the word "Trinity" was part of the name of the church.

Mephibosheth was pretty quiet during most of the meeting. His reading wasn't quite as polished as Uriah's, either, so I figured he might be a bit new to the whole thing. So at the end of everything, I asked Mephibosheth to tell me his story, and so he did, and it actually went on for a while. Basically, he was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, but when he was around 13, his parents fell away. He basically followed suit, as did the rest of the kids, save for the two oldest. Many years later, he had a daughter, and I'm guessing that he and his wife divorced by this point. His daughter was 3, and one day he was seized with thoughts about his daughter's future, and so he called his older sister and said he needed to get his life back on track. That was about six years ago, since his daughter is 9 now, and he was baptized four years ago. That story drew the meeting to a close, and we've agreed to meet again at 12:40 PM on August 2nd.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

JW Study Meeting #3

My newest tale is of another meeting with my favorite Jehovah's Witnesses, Uriah and Shem. Chapter 3 of What Does the Bible Really Teach? concerns the restoration of the earth. In short, since I agree that our ultimate hope is not some ethereal, disembodied existence in another realm but rather bodily resurrection and a renewed earth inundated with the glorious presence of YHWH, there was fairly little disagreement, which actually seemed to catch Uriah off guard, if anything. He kept having to ask, over and over again, if I was sure I didn't disagree with what the book said (which primarily consisted of Scripture quotes, at those parts). Ordinarily, you see, that chapter is one of their hardest to get through with folks, and even with me, they figured it might take two sessions instead of just one. Oh, and we did have a brief tangent on the subject of hell, in a sense, and I basically got them to accidentally concede one of their typical arguments against conscious, eternal punishment. At any rate, before they left, I told them that the next chapter would provoke some controversy, and that they should come prepared. Uriah just smiled, and I have a feeling that he seriously underestimates the coming storm. But, either way, the next meeting will be 26 July. I've been slacking too much to be ready on the 12th, and on the 19th I'll be meeting up with a bunch of guys from the Guys' Bible Study at college to spend a day working through Philippians.