Forgive me Auldsoul, I thought you were trying to make a Biblical argument. Definitely a misunderstanding on my part!
Street Witnessing in Conyers, GA (rather long, but IMO cool experience)
I found this absolutely fascinating. Auld Soul, your use of the JW doctrines' own internal *simulation* of logic was very well-done. I suspect that you might have started her thinking, against her will--but as you noted, since you were entangled in her "deal-breaker" question, she'll move you from the "he made an interesting point" list to the "that guy just doesn't get it" list.
I think Gary's comment about needing to teach JWs their own doctrine before you can talk to them was pretty spot-on. That's what makes it so frustrating.
I don't have nearly the academic training and scholarship that some on this board do, but have taken enough religious studies course to acquire a minor for my B.A. in English (which means I've got more formal religious education than anybody on the GB, doesn't it?). It's been enough education to leave me amazed at the way JWs insist they have "accurate Bible knowledge" when all they've really got are a handful of proof-texts provided to answer specific questions. Ask them anything else, and they're befuddled.
What's even more sad is that, because JWs focus on one doctrinal question at a time, they can't see the inconsistencies in the whole of their doctrine. By getting lost in minutiae and pondering how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, they manage to miss the fact that they deny Jesus. Talk about the beam in the eye!
Thanks for your post. It was very interesting, and I do feel I learned something from it. However, I have a question about something you said.
When she said that we were to treat disfellowshipped ones as men of the nations, and tax collectors, you replied by giving examples of how Jesus treated the men of the nations and tax collectors in a kindly matter. Were you saying that when Jesus said that this is how we were to treat sinners, he meant we were to treat them as he treated tax collectors and men of the nations? Not as outsiders, as others did, but the same as everyone else?
If this is the case, what then, did Paul mean when he said not to eat with such a man? Who was he referring to? If he's saying not to eat with sinners, and Jesus is saying it is ok, isn't this a contradiction?
Nice job with the elderly JW, AuldSoul!
The question about why the Society instructs JWs to go to the elders rather than the congregation is a real stumper, since their only response is "we do it because the Society says so".
As for your argument about John 1:1, I don't think this is a good one. The problem is that "God", "god", "true God", "false god" and the Greek theos are rather fuzzy in a critical way, and so your argument only 'works' in languages like English where "God" means the one and only Jewish/Christian supreme deity, i.e., God, Jehovah, the Godhead. While this argument has been used by trinitarians for many years against the NWT rendering "a god" in John 1:1c, it's actually a false dilemma. Let me explain.
The Greek theos had a wide variety of meanings in koine Greek. Cf., Murray Harris, Jesus As God, for a good explanation. So one needs to understand exactly what the writer of John meant when he used theos in somewhat different ways in John 1:1. One also needs to keep in mind that neither "God" nor "god" in English conveys the full range of meaning of theos.
You had said to the woman, "But if YHWH, or Yahweh, or Jehovah was the only true God 'in the beginning', was Jesus a false god 'in the beginning'?"
The false dilemma is in giving only two alternatives, when others exist, and in not carefully distinguishing what "true" and "false" mean. For example, the NT calls the Father, Jesus and Satan "gods". In the sense understood by koine Greek NT readers, they are all truly gods, because that's what the word means -- a powerful, perhaps supernatural, being. But while Satan is truly a god, he is not "the true God". When most people, including JWs, use the term "the true God" and similar ones, they mean Jehovah, or the Godhead, depending on their trinitarian stance. In any case, they mean the one and only Supreme Being, the one to whom Christian worship is properly directed. It is in that worshipful sense that people say "the true God", meaning that the god that the OT calls Jehovah is the only being that Christians ought to worship. In English, because English speaking culture has long been Christian, "God" refers exclusively to this Supreme Being, but many other languages have no such distinction because, as in Greek, "god" when referring to the Supreme Being is not capitalized.
Since JWs are non-trinitarians, they believe that Jesus was truly a god, but the notion of Jesus as a "false god" is nonsensical: Satan is truly a god, but is a false god in the sense that some people wrongly render him the worship he desires, but Jesus is not to be worshiped at all, and so the concept is as nonsensical as saying, "AuldSoul is a false god" when one should say, "AuldSoul is not truly a god".
In these senses it is proper for a non-trinitarian to say that Jesus is truly a god, but is not the true god (note the lowercase "g") or the true God. So a fair question to ask a JW would be, "But if Jehovah was the only true God 'in the beginning', was Jesus truly a god 'in the beginning', or was he a false god 'in the beginning'?" Now you can see why I say that your question was a false dilemma, since the JW could immediately answer, "Of course Jesus was truly a god in the beginning, because he was a powerful supernatural being, but he is not a false god because he is not supposed to be worshiped".
I already started to go into this with him and he made it clear that he was not making an argument about what the Bible actually says, but based upon the NWT's addition of the bracketed "[true]" when translating ha'elohim in the OT. So his argument is not a Biblical one, but more on to just try and trick somebody up.
your a genius!
AlanF and Mondo1,
The "argument" was Socratic interogatory based on JW interpretation of the Bible intended to lead to a contradiction in their doctrine, not in the Bible. While the balancing point I set is a false dichotomy, for the reasons you have both stated, it is a false dichotomy that derives from their own doctrine and was therefore not used out of context or inappropriately (in my opinion) when Socratically inviting explanation of JW dogma from a JW.
They teach that all Gods other than Jehovah are false gods.
They teach that Jesus was a god, even a "Mighty God".
This is the doctrine from whence the questions arose, I was not stating what the Bible teaches nor was I simply trying to "trick somebody up." I was trying to bring cognitive dissonance to the upper levels of consciousness, because every time that happens a JW has another chance to choose again. She chose, and I did not disrespect her fo her choice. We parted friends. Well, as much as JWs become friends with anyone, at least.
But the cool thing is, if she DOES share the parting question with others, she will raise cognitive dissonance to the fore for herself and those she asks each time. And the question is written in the inside front cover of her Bible.