Monday, September 28, 2009

My Conversation With Russell

My Jehovah's Witness friend, Russell, finally stopped by Saturday afternoon, and we had a very good visit. We sat on my front porch and the weather could not have been better. He began our conversation with talk about his farm which led to economics which led possible bad times which led to his view of eschatology. Knowing this is where Jehovah's Witnesses go (they are an end times cults group), I sat patiently listening and actually learning something new.

This past week I listened to a Dispensationalist talk about multiple resurrections starting with the Pretribulation Rapture and continuing on through the Millenium. Well, my JW friend had this particular Dispensationalist beat by a 100 times. I learned that there may be many many many resurrections during the millennial reign of Christ.

I also had my memory refreshed on the 2 tier or 2 class system of Christians. Instead of the carnal verses spiritual Christian though, Russell explained that there will be a ruling class of Christians who reign with Christ in heaven, and there will be the rest of humanity on earth that are ruled by the Kingdom of God. With this explanation he said that my question of eternal life from 1 John 5 is for the ruling class. This of course had many interpretive errors within such a claim, but I decided to be patient and wait for another opportunity to ask further questions.

Of course I had to ask how does one get into the ruling class or paradise on earth. His response was that we need to have faith in God and to do what he commands. Over time we will be trained and become more and more like Christ and become perfected. In other words, we must cooperate with God's grace by our free-wills to inherit the earth.

I responded in two ways (the second in the next post). First, I noted to him that his view of God's grace, man and his sin, and faith is fundamentally the same as Rome's view. His response was simple, "That doesn't matter."

Of course it doesn't matter. For the Watch Tower doesn't possess the Gospel either. When you have a man-centered view of salvation, you start with the imperative to get to the indicative. Or you start with obeying God in order to achieve being perfected. The Gospel is completely backwards from this view.

I asked him many times during our conversation, "What is the Good News?" For him, it was the coming of God's rule or Kingdom. For in his view, man is not a dead sinner that needs the breath of God to raise him from the dead to new life in Christ. For him, man is not a lawbreaker needing to be punished legally by a holy God. For him, substitutionary atonement leads to easy believism. Instead salvation is an offer or a chance to obey by faith.

So once again, free-will or even a semi-pelagian view is foundational to man's religions, whether they be Rome, many Evangelical churches, or the Watch Tower Society.

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