Saturday, July 18, 2009

JW Study Meeting #22

So I e-mailed Uriah earlier this week and, as it turned out, he'd written something down wrong. So we met again today and spent most of the time in random chitchat. He vented some grievances about airlines and people who don't wash their hands in the bathroom, and so forth. I forget most of the things we talked about. I had to keep one of my cats away from the frog a few times, I sure recall that. I explained to Uriah that I wouldn't be available on the first day of the upcoming convention because I have to take the GRE, which I had to reschedule because of my federal jury duty in August, and he told me some stories of his own experiences in county jury duty. But we established that he'll be picking me up at about 5 AM on August 1st and 7 AM on August 2nd. I may end up spending a whole lot of time around Jehovah's Witnesses that weekend...

He also tipped me off to some eBay sales, including a Watchtower Library disk from 2005 for just $10 + SH, which I just ordered. (In the meantime, he also told me a clever tale from a seller's standpoint. He noticed that for some reason a lot of stuff by some guy named "Ed Hardy" is selling hot right now, so on an ad he has out, he abbreviated "education" to "ed." at the end of a sentence and made sure to start the next sentence with "Hardy". There's a fine line between brilliance and deceit, hahaha.)

Anyway, eventually we managed to get in a very minimal conversation about theological stuff. I ran through the arguments from my outline, which I gave him to take with him before he left. But he really caught me off-guard when we started to discuss Jesus' resurrection, and he said he believes (or at least is open to the idea) that Jesus was raised physically from the dead! True, he followed it up by saying that that Jesus subsequently became a spirit-creature. But Uriah is open to the idea that the body in which Christ appeared to the disciples was numerically identical to the one in which he died. When I brought up Russell's famed quote about the body of Jesus being dissolved into gas or preserved as a memorial in heaven, he said that that was also a possibility, and that he really doesn't know the details of the resurrection and the appearances. Hardly what I expected! (He still didn't fluster me as much as I flustered him a number of meetings ago...)

So I handed him my outline and he said he'd do some research, and I also said that I wanted to hear more of his personal thoughts on the resurrection of Christ. Then, after a bit more small-talk, we parted ways. I'm going to be at a college Bible study up at campus next Saturday, so the next time I see him will be when he picks me up for the convention that's sure to produce some looooooong reports.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Meeting Delayed

Seems like the twenty-second meeting is being postponed--I got stood up! I'll send Uriah an e-mail later saying I missed seeing him today, or something like that. I think I'll say that next Saturday will work out well for me. After all, it has been three weeks, so he could've forgotten--although he writes these things down in a calendar.... (Alternatively, perhaps I did enough theological damage last time to make him need an even longer break, haha.)

Anyway, this morning as I remembered that I'd forgotten to do most of the research I'd planned, I prepared a sort of outline for myself of the arguments I'd been using and planned to bring up. I even decided to use the New World Translation as my primary Bible for it, so that most of my arguments could be made from the NWT alone; and I also decided to omit some of the more popular texts used, or the ones to which I'm familiar with very common JW replies. Since I don't have anything to actually report this time, I figure I might as well transcribe it for fun and profit edification:


Three theoretical options for resurrection: (1) glorified physical resurrection bodies (continuity); (2) substance-change resurrection (continuity); and (3) replacement resurrection as spirit-bodies (discontinuity).

On Physical Resurrection for All

For Jehovah's Witnesses, the anointed will experience [3] whereas the "great crowd" will experience [1]. Moreover, most statements about resurrection in the Pauline epistles are taken to refer to the resurrection of the anointed, rather than the great crowd, as Paul's audience was, it is presumed, composed entirely of the anointed class.

I. Romans 8:11
  • "life to YOUR mortal bodies" (Romans 8:11, NWT) is either resurrection or it is not - but it clearly is
  • this is either a literal use of the concept of resurrection, or it is metaphorical (a la Ephesians 2:4-6) - but it clearly exceeds metaphor in specificity
  • thus, mortal bodies will literally receive life in the resurrection
  • this is compatible with [1] or [2], but incompatible with [3]

II. 1 Corinthians 15:53

  • there are two options: (P) "that which is corruptible" has reference to the physical body, and "incorruption" is a state of non-physical existence; or (Q) this is not the case, and their referents are otherwise
  • assuming [P], then "the physical body must put on a state of non-physical existence", which is [2] rather than [3], and so incompatible with JW teaching
  • counter: this text really means that the person in the physical body must adopt godly principles so that later the person, but not the physical body, can be re-created in a state of non-physical existence
  • reply: the text never says anything of the sort; it clearly says that that which is corruptible must put on incorruption
  • assuming [Q], then the corruption/incorruption dichotomy is not equivalent to the material/immaterial dichotomy, which supports [1]
  • thus, no option here supports [3], least of all the JW reading of the text

III. 1 Corinthians 15:42

  • assuming that "it" refers to the physical body, then the text means that the physical body (even of the anointed) is raised in incorruption - and this would be [1]
  • assuming that "it" refers to the 'life-force', the text is false because the life-force is never sown in burial; thus this assumption must be false
  • "it" cannot change referent in the midst of this and the subsequent verses; Paul is a better communicator than that!
  • hence, this text clearly supports [1]

IV. Philippians 3:21

  • either (P) Christ has a glorified physical body; or (Q) Christ has a non-physical spirit-body
    assuming [Q], then "our humiliated bod[ies]" are refashioned into spirit-bodies, which would be option [2]
  • assuming [P], then "our humiliated bod[ies]" are glorified in their physicality, which would be option [1]
  • counter A: perhaps the "humiliated body" is not the physical body of each anointed believer, but the corporate body of Christ, that is, the anointed class as a whole
    reply A: this is contrary to established JW interpretation of the passage (e.g., Reasoning from the Scriptures, p. 336), in which the physical bodies are in view
  • counter B: perhaps the anointed alive when the millennium begins shall have [2] instead of [3], such that Paul can indeed predicate [2] of the anointed
  • reply B1: but this would only be 5% of the anointed class at best, and Paul was a skilled enough communicator to convey his message better. He could have said, e.g., "our humiliated body shall be exchanged for one like unto his glorious body", which would have covered the whole anointed class and not just a miniscule fraction of them
  • reply B2: it remains to be established that (counter B) posits accepted JW teaching at all regarding the anointed who remain when Christ comes
  • thus no option compatible with JW teaching is compatible with this verse, JW use notwithstanding

V. Romans 8:23

  • New World Translation says "redemption from our bodies", but the Greek has "απολυτρωσιν του σωματος ημων" - that is, "redemption of our body", not "from"
    New World Translation has here changed Scripture to escape the implication
    if our bodies - that is, those of the anointed - are redeemed, this must entail [1] or [2]; this passage disconfirms [3]

On the Physical Resurrection of Christ

I. Philippians 3:21

  • see (IV) above

II. 1 Timothy 2:15

  • this verse refers to Jesus in the present tense as "a man"
  • but if Jesus was raised as a non-human spirit-being, he isn't actually human in the present tense
  • and it must mean really "a man" and not merely in appearance as a man, because of the God-Jesus-man mediation described in the passage
  • thus, Jesus is currently a man
  • and it follows that Jesus was not raised as a spirit-being, as JW teaching holds

III. John 2:19-22

  • Jesus said that in three days, he would raise the temple up that had been broken down
  • John makes very explicit that Jesus meant his body
  • so after three days, Jesus raised up the body that was broken down
  • but this is not compatible with a spirit-resurrection, in which the old temple remains fallen and a new one is built out of different material
  • consequently, Jesus was raised physically from the dead in the body in which he died, contrary to JW teaching