Jehovah’s Witnesses Got It Right!

September 5, 2007 at 7:50 pm Leave a comment

 Since moving to a much bigger town last year we have been bombarded by door-to-door canvassers. It seems there is always someone at the door wanting you to: change your hydro or gas supplier; take a sample newspaper subscription; seal your driveway; replace your windows; spray your lawn; re-shingle your roof; clean your chimney; buy a golf membership; buy a valuable coupon book or clean your carpets. Of course we can’t forget the legions of school kids sent out to sell magazine subscriptions, tin foil, cheese, meat pies or get sponsors for all kinds of running/ cycling/ skipping/ walking/ bowling/ dancing events or just for staying awake all night for some worthy cause. Then there are the charity door- knockers who want you to donate to help fund a cure for cancer/ MS/ heart attacks/ strokes/ HIV/ lung disease/ diabetes/ arthritis and Alzheimer’s among others. Oh, and let’s not forget petitions for any number of local issues and the canvassers during election time. This lengthy list (all actual people who have presented themselves at our humble portal) illustrates the reason why my wife won’t answer the door. She has doorbell burn out. I usually answer the ding-dong because sometimes it is actually someone you want to see. Of course I try not to miss the bright little girl next door who comes collecting for the paper.

This week just past, there was a knock at the door. Not a ding-dong, but an actual knock, which was pleasant in itself. I was pleased to see an attractive, nicely dressed young lady who smiled and took the prescribed one step back. She was a Jehovah’s Witness. I told her I was a United Church preacher and her eyes widened. I wasn’t sure if she was excited at finding a new challenge or whether, like an Anglican priest friend, she was thinking, “Hmpfff …. another tree hugging commie.” At any rate, she dropped off two copies of “Awake!” and left after getting my name and promising to be back. And yes, I will answer the door again when she comes.

Living in our last town, the Witnesses would visit me in my office at work and we would have a great chat. I enjoyed looking through “Watch Tower” and “Awake!” to ferret out the Jehovah’s Witness view of God. I found they take a fairly literal stance and their literature is full of that dated paternalistic religious language but sometimes I find a stimulating nugget.

The current “Awake!” has a few articles exploring God being responsible for natural disasters. I was surprised and pleased to discover that the writer looked on these disasters as things that simply happen in creation. They are not the judgement of God. The blame for the damage and loss of life lies with humanity for abusing creation (the environment) and ignoring common sense; citing New Orleans as an example of a city built in a low lying flood prone area despite warnings of impending disaster. God doesn’t get even with us but nature will! I found this position refreshing. Luckily, they say, the end of these disasters is near:

Earthquakes, war, famine and disease – these are some of the things that Jesus foretold would mark “the conclusion of the system of things” in which we now live. (Matt 24:3, 7, 8; Luke 21:7, 10, 11) Of course those events are not acts of God. Neither God nor his Father, Jehovah God, is responsible for them.

But God will be responsible for what the foretold events presage, namely, the coming of God’s Kingdom – a heavenly government in the hands of Jesus Christ – and the destruction of all who reject Jehovah’s sovereignty (Dan 2:44; 7:13,14) Thereafter, earth will be made into a haven of peace, where there will be no fear of natural disasters. In a complete sense, God’s promise will be fulfilled: “My people must dwell in a peaceful abiding place and in residences of full confidence and in undisturbed resting places.” (Isaiah32:18)

Awake! September 2007 pg 8

I quoted the whole of these two paragraphs to give you an idea of the literal theology and the paternalistic character that runs through their literature. I am uncomfortable with this but, as I mentioned, I was pleased to hear them say that natural disasters were not God’s way of punishing humanity as so many literal Bible Belt/ Televangelists like to loudly proclaim. The Witnesses seem to accept what Job learned, that disaster happens and humanity is only a small part of creation. Refreshing, I say. They got this right!

I preach a lot about there being several paths to discover the One and the Jehovah’s Witness path is certainly one of those. It is a valid path as it attempts to make people loving and respectful towards God, Creation and each other. The cup they drink form however, is not my cup.

I look forward to this young lady’s return. As in our last town, I will listen to what she says and I expect she will listen to what I say and we will probably agree to disagree and probably to meet again. I like to think that something I say will ring a bell with her and she will be freed from the suppression of paternalistic literalism. I won’t argue or force the issue. I will be like Chinese water torture and wear her down over time! I’m sure she thinks the same thing too.

It is an old joke about people peeking through the peep hole and seeing Jehovah’s Witnesses at the door. They kill the lights and hide behind the couch until they go away. Too often we don’t engage, in a friendly way, those who hold a different view than ours. When you hear a knock, I hope you will open your door, talk, learn and teach. Take an “Awake!” and look it over critically. Would you risk this to strengthen your faith and maybe make a neighbour out of a fellow traveller?

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Entry filed under: Wrestling With God.

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