Sunday, July 31, 2011

My second appearance on the Theopologetics podcast discussing the JW's "two-class" theology.

From the Theopologetics website:

Episode 50 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! Mike Felker from The Apologetic Front joins me once again to discuss the Jehovah's Witnesses, this time focusing in particular on their "two-class" doctrine of life in the eternal state. This episode contains part 1 of the interview; see episode 51, "144,000," for part 2.


FredTorres said...

Well hello there my friend. I hope you are doing well.

I just got through listening to both parts of the "Two class" theology podcasts. As always, your presentation includes a fair and generally accurate depiction of JW beliefs. I have a couple of comments and a few questions.

I suppose it goes without saying that I object to your characterization of the Governing Body, and their role in the faith of JW's, but I believe that is based on several misunderstandings, and that is another topic for another day.

Having heard your interview, I have a much clearer view of what you believe. In my 25 years of public ministry, I have only encountered a handful of evangelicals who believe in the glorified earth doctrine, if you will. But for what it's worth, here is something that apparently you are not aware of.
Here is a commentary on how those that do not reign with Christ will also be "sons of God" and will be called "holy ones". From the Revalation-It's Grand Climax is at Hand book regarding Revelation 21:7

*** re chap. 42 p. 304 par. 12 A New Heaven and a New Earth ***
"They too must conquer, loyally serving God until they come out of the great tribulation. Then they will enter into their earthly inheritance, ‘the kingdom prepared for them from the founding of the world.’ (Matthew 25:34) These and others of the Lord’s earthly sheep who pass the test at the end of the thousand years are called “holy ones.” (Revelation 20:9) They will enjoy a sacred and filial relationship with their Creator, Jehovah God, as members of his universal organization.—Isaiah 66:22; John 20:31; Romans 8:21."

So, we agree that all believers will experience a spiritual rebirth, we simply believe that in most cases that occurs after the final test. Based on your interview, it would appear that you are not aware of this.

There is still the question of defining the "kingdom of God" and the 144,000 but
before commenting any further, I would like to ask you to clarify a few things for me. Due to the variance of views expressed by evangelicals, I don't want to assume anything about your beliefs.
You touched on it briefly in your interview when you mentioned the "intermediary stage"

From your perspective, what is hell? Where is it?

At what point are the OT saints born again, and was their faith justified by the promise of the coming Messiah, or directly by Jesus Christ, or something other?

When the New Jerusalem is established on the earth, will all three persons of the Trinity reside in a fixed position, (ie, the glorified earth) with mankind? If so will we be able to see and speak with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the same way as with Jesus?

Feel free to take your time answering, if you are inclined to do so. And feel free to answer as succintly as you want to, even if it's a yes or no answer. Again, these answers would be just for my benefit to understand where you stand on these matters.

Well, goodbye for now, and you take care.


The Apologetic Front said...


Once again I have to commend you for being open enough to take the time to listen to these interviews. But not only have you listened to it, but you've given it thought and provided some good questions for me to think about.

After finishing an "Insanity" workout, I have a few minutes to respond before my evening ends. Please excuse my brevity, but I hope the following will give you a better idea where i'm coming from. If not, feel free to follow up.

1. I understand that JW's believe that the "great crowd" can carry some of the same titles as the "anointed class" in some sense. However, in the interview I hope I was careful enough to qualify. For instance, are the great crowd "sons of God" in the sense in which Romans 8 speaks of?

The same goes for the new birth. Do the great crowd experience the new birth in the sense in which Jesus speaks of in John 3? Or are these texts limited exclusively to the anointed?

2. "Hell" represents God's judgment and its varying degrees of punishment. Where is it? I have no idea.

3. The OT saints were justified in the same way in which the NT saints are: by the regenerating work of the Spirit. As for their justification (which I believe to be something different), I think they were justified by faith in the coming Messiah, just as Abraham was (Romans 4:1-5).

4. I'm not completely sure on this one. I think Scripture is clear that Jesus will physically leave heaven to reside on earth (Acts 3:21). As for the Father, He will "dwell with mankind." (Rev. 21:3) However, I think this will be something like the OT events where YHWH's glory was physically present in the temple, but in a greater magnitude. However, even in this case, YHWH didn't physically have to leave heaven to be present on earth. As for the Spirit, I have no idea.

But whether one is a unitarian or Trinitarian, i don't think one's answer necessarily differs as I know there are many non-Trinitarians that would hold a similar view on all of these issues.

The Apologetic Front said...

On point 3, I didn't mean to say that one is justified by regeneration. Regeneration is a direct work on the persons heart through the Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Justification is what happens when one has faith in Christ and thereby declared righteous (Romans 4:5). Though the Spirit is directly involved in the latter, it is a different work than the former. Hope that clarifies.

FredTorres said...

Hi Mike:

Insanity workout? You're a better man than me, I tell you that.

Thanks for your answers my friend. Let me just confirm and follow up briefly:

2. Would it be fair to say that your view of the glorified earth is not compatible with the notion that some evangelicals promote, namely, that hell is somewhere in the earth (Luke 16:19-31), or, do you allow for the possibility that hell could be located in the glorified earth?

3. My question in part was "at what point" are the OT saints born again? While alive, at death, in intermediate state,at bodily resurrection? As a follow up, when they receive the new birth, does that mean they have converted to Christianity?

4. So when you say that "God will dwell with them", that is not referring to Jesus nor to the indwelling of the Spirit. Very Well.
Would it be fair to say that you believe that those in the glorified earth and the New Jerusalem will not meet YHWH face to face in the same sense as they will see Jesus?

I know you are super busy. Thanks for your time.

best regards,

The Apologetic Front said...

2. I honestly have never heard a single evangelical advocate that. And I especially have never heard an informed theologian. I'm not even sure how one could even begin to make a biblical case for that position. But i'll continue to stand by what I said earlier in that i'm not sure where hell is located.

3. I would say its the same as for believers today. All are born again when Ezekiel 36:26-27 takes place; while alive. If one is not born again in this life, then they cannot repent and thus cannot have salvation.

4. I would say not because the Father is "spirit" and doesn't have a "face." Jesus will be on the earth physically, just as He was in the garden (Gen. 3:8). All I can say about the Father is that He will dwell with man in a way similar but to a greater degree than His visible manifestations in the OT. I would hesitate to speculate beyond this because i'm not sure Scripture gives us much more detail than this.

FredTorres said...

Hi Mike:

Hey thanks a bunch for taking time. I appreciate it.

2. Thanks. I'm sure you are right about never having heard an evangelical advocate that. What I've seen though, is that some do believe the traditional notion that eternal hell-fire is in the center of the earth. Could be Catholic influence. I've also heard a few like you who believe that the earth will become glorified. Pretty hard to believe that eternal hell fire could exist on that same planet as God. I suppose that is one of the advantages of a door to door ministry, where you can actually survey your local community's beliefs.

3. Thanks.

4. Thanks.