Had our CO visit last month. Normally the guy has all the charisma and charm of Ben Stein from "Ferris Buhler's Day Off", but he managed to give a talk that was actually coherent one night.
Here is the rough outline:
The theme was about the difference between "justice", "mercy", and "undeserved kindness".
Situation 1: Adam and Eve sinned. Justice demanded their immediate execution. But God granted undeserved kindness and allowed them to live another 930 years, i.e., he gave them time. During that time of undeserved kindness, Abel performed a righteous act and thus God extends mercy and will grant him life in the resurrection.
Situation 2: The world of Noah's day was exceedingly evil. Justice demanded the immediate death of everyone. But God granted undeserved kindness and allowed that society to exist another 120 years. During that time of undeserved kindness, Noah performed a righteous act by preaching and building an ark, so God showed mercy by allowing him to live.
Situation 3: The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were extremely evil. Justice demanded their immediate destruction. But God granted undeserved kindness and allowed time for Lot and his family to escape. Lot performed the righteous act of fleeing the city, and so God showed mercy and spared his life.
Present day situation: When Jesus "inspected the earth" in 1918, he found it to be evil. Justice demanded its immediate destruction. But God has granted 90+ years of undeserved kindness, up until now. During this period of undeserved kindness, we should engage in righteous acts (preaching, meeting attendance, yadda yadda the usual stuff) so that God might grant us mercy and let us live in the new order.
I was surprised on 2 counts: (1) It was an actual coherent argument from this guy, who normally can't explain the color of the grass without stumbling around and telling an irrelevant story from 40 years ago, and (2) it's completely and utterly non-Christian.
As most here know, the Society translates what everyone else calls "grace" as "undeserved kindness". There are dozens of scriptures that indicate that salvation is due to "God's grace", yet this talk made the complete opposite point - that "grace / undeserved kindness" is merely a sort of "temporary stay of execution", and that salvation comes as a "reward" for "works" and is granted via "mercy".
I had never heard the JW message framed this way - I was quite stunned at its complete deviation from the NT scriptures.
What do you all think?
I was thinking, maybe this was a "trial balloon" to see how a potential bit of "new light" goes over? Or maybe they are test-driving a new way to spin their message - one that will have more appeal to people from a non-Christian background?
Certainly if JWs tried to spin a "Grace is merely a stay of execution, you are saved exclusively by mercy granted because of works" message in an area with a Christian background, it would fall completely flat.