Friday, June 17, 2011

Behold, They Stand at the Door and Knock: Conclusion

Though the scope of this series permits us to examine only a small sample of texts (Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, and John 1:1-3), the conclusions drawn even from those texts alone clearly demonstrate that the Jehovah's Witnesses do not hold to a Biblical Christology. Instead, their view of the Person of Jesus Christ is radically opposed to the testimony of Scripture. As Metzger says,
Today, as of old, a proper response to the primary question,What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?” (Matt. 22:42), constitutes a veritable touchstone of historic Christianity. Certain other aberrations in Biblical understanding may doubtless be tolerated if one is, so to speak, turned in the right direction with regard to Christology. But if a sect’s basic orientation toward Jesus Christ be erroneous, it must be seriously doubted whether the name “Christian” can rightly be applied to such a system.[1]
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have answered this question in such a way that any honest interpreter of Scripture must conclude that there is nothing Christian about such a system.

Such an unbiblical Christology leaves them with a defective view of the atonement, and thus a different gospel (cf. Gal 1:8-9). They declare, “We cannot earn salvation; it is possible only on the basis of faith in the value of the sacrifice of Jesus’ human life” (Reasoning from the Scriptures, 216). Yet if Jesus’ sacrifice was merely a “human life,” we have no hope, for the mediator needed to be man and God to propitiate the just wrath of the Father, to be a faithful high priest in things pertaining to God (Heb 2:17-18; Isa 53:6, 10-12), and to provide a perfect righteousness for His people.

Now, I don’t say these things to create controversy or to draw lines in the sand and alienate people. I say that those who hold to the doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians because they need to be saved. We who believe in the Christ revealed in Scripture must take every opportunity we are given to evangelize these precious people. We must present to them the Christ who is, and not the Christ of the Watchtower Society.

So when that knock on the door comes on Saturday morning, it should not be our practice to coldly and unlovingly slam the door in their faces. Following the example of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, we, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1), must gently and patiently engage them with Scripture. When we do discuss these matters, we must not deal in mere platitudes and cultural-Christian catch-phrases, but rather must intelligently bring to bear what Scripture actually teaches on what they actually believe.

We must therefore be educated, committing ourselves to studying the Scriptures in order to have a firm grasp on such matters as presented throughout this series. Then we would also be Christlike, having compassion on those who are in bondage to false teaching, laying down our lives in love to be effectively equipped for snatching such as these out of the fire (Jude 1:21).

I hope this series has equipped us to do that.

Were I, under the pretence of indulgence, to encourage you in a fault which I judge so ruinous, I should certainly act toward you a treacherous and cruel part. Wherefore I am willing, that you should now for a little be offended by my seeming asperity, rather than that you should not be reclaimed from those curious and alluring speculations, by which you have been already captivated. The time will come, I hope, when you shall rejoice, that you have been awakened even in this violent manner, from your pleasing, but fatal dream.
- John Calvin -

[1]Bruce Metzger, “The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jesus Christ: A Biblical and Theological Appraisal,” Theology Today 10 (April 1953), 69–70.


Robert said...

This is something that we all need to take to heart. If we truly have a love for Christ, then we should love the lost enough to tell them the truth. Thank you for affirming this in your post and may God give us the courage and put that love for the lost into each of our hearts.

Mike Riccardi said...

Thanks, Robert, for your encouragement. I appreciate your heart for the lost. May God grant us a burden for those whom Christ came to save.

Joe Meyer said...

Could this series also be apllied to Mormon's?
Outstanding Mike. Thank you.

Mike Riccardi said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Joe.

Inasmuch as you're trying to establish the Deity of Christ from Scripture, this might be helpful in engaging with Mormons. But they have a different take on exactly who Jesus is, and so it would be best for us to engage them on their terms as well. Like, in this series I quote a lot from JW literature. If I were to do a series on the Mormons, I'd want to interact with the Book of Mormon quite a bit. But of course, the foundation is the same, since the foundation is Scripture.

If you're interested in how to engage Mormons, I'd recommend this book by Ron Rhodes, and this one by James White.

Thanks for commenting!

Joe Meyer said...

Thanks Mike. Great blog. I will be spreading the word. Joe