Saturday, December 20, 2008

JW Study Meeting #12

The fun ain't over! Uriah and I had our latest meeting today. We spent a lot of time making assorted small-talk and discussion. He brought me the latest copies of The Watchtower and Awake!--nothing terribly interesting in either so far as I can see--as well as copies of two new books: Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, their previous study book, and a thick hardback that I've been eagerly awaiting, Jehovah's Witnesses: Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. Uriah told me how, before he was a JW but when his wife was, he used to look through that book and others seeking points to write up for debate. Then he'd prepare all sorts of flowcharts and get into multi-hour debates with Jehovah's Witnesses on all sorts of things. It's no wonder he's the JW I get to meet with. This morning, I had finished watching the third of the videos that Uriah let me borrow. This one was about the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Nazi Germany, and it included numerous stories from JW Holocaust survivors. Pretty interesting stuff, but like most Watchtower-produced films, it eventually grew boring and excessively lengthy. I returned the movie to him today.

Some of the other things we spoke of were reading (I mentioned that I'm shooting for 100 books in 2008, which is somewhat plausible since this morning I made it to 93) and some current-event types of things, like this and this. Oh, and computer problems. We've both been having plenty of computer problems lately, though at least--unlike his--mine hasn't actually crashed, per se. (I still say that requiring several hours and about forty tries to access the Internet is rather extreme, though...)

He told me some interesting tales of running across a Baha'i household in door-to-door witnessing once. (At least, I think it was Baha'i. The name he said sounded a lot like it, as did a description of their teaching and methods.) I forget exactly how we managed to get on that subject, but it was a pretty interesting story. He mentioned how Witnesses get maps of sections of the neighborhood to cover and then turn them back in for another section map so that they don't harass the same people too often. On the back of the map for that section was a note saying that newly baptized Jehovah's Witnesses should avoid that household; evidently the Baha'i man was a fairly eloquent and persuasive speaker if the listener wasn't being sufficiently critical. I told a brief story, then, about the time I attended a World Religion Day celebration at a small Baha'i meeting. Interesting time, that.

Oh, and I told Uriah some interesting stories about a debate foe of mine, especially concerning the trouncing he received in this thread at TheologyWeb. I believe the phrase, "most brainwashed individual I have ever encountered" rolled off my tongue. See, I was explaining to Uriah that my academic advisor persuaded me to spend next semester applying for a Fulbright, and I've decided that my proposal is going to be to travel to the Philippines and do a study of Iglesia ni Cristo theology for nine months. I'm pretty excited at the possibility, quite naturally, especially because it could be the perfect solution to my problems with procuring INC materials. But, we'll see where that goes.

Eventually, Uriah and I turned to the section of What Does the Bible Really Teach? that we've been working on and got through another piece of the chapter on the atonement. Nothing terribly controversial so far, although I might have qualified a few things here and there. The one paragraph emphasized that being made in the image of God does not mean that we physically resemble God, and that "Jehovah does not have a body of flesh and blood" (p. 48). I quipped that Mormons would probably find that paragraph fairly objectionable, and Uriah remarked that he's never been able to get a Mormon to stick with the study past maybe the second chapter at the furthest.

Afterwards I think I went off on a brief tangent about how certain Church Fathers (*cough*-Gregory-of-Nyssa-*cough*) developed the ransom imagery for the atonement in some difficult directions, and I emphasized that the varying images for the crucifixion used in the New Testament (sacrifice, ransom, penal substitution, victory, etc.) all need to be integrated and taken together as part of the immensely multifaceted solution of God to the creation's problem of rebellion, corruption, and death.

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