Ok a few quick questions....in "Refuting Jehovah's Witnesses" by Randall Watters, it says that Jesus started out as Michael the Arch-Angel, came to earth as Jesus, and then went back to heaven as Michael. Is this currently believed / taught by them? I have not yet heard it. I mentioned it to my wife, and she thinks I'm making it up. I've also mentioned the fact that they "Wrote their own bible" but she doesn't believe me there either.
Since they don't believe in Hell, how can they explain Revelations and that it mentions "Eternal Punishment"?
Number 1: Here is what the Witnesses' own publication Reasoning from the Scriptures, Page 218, has to say on Michael the Archangel:
Is Jesus Christ the same person as Michael the archangel?
The name of Michael appears only five times in the Bible. The glorious spirit person who bears the name is referred to as "one of the chief princes," "the great prince who has charge of our [Daniel's] people," and as "the archangel." Dan 10:13, 12:1; Jude 9, RS) Michael means "Who Is Like God?" The name evidently designates Michael as the one who takes the lead in upholding Jehovah's sovereignty and destroying God's enemies.
At 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (RS), the command of Jesus Christ for the resurrection to begin is described as "the archangel's call," and Jude 9 says that the archangel is Michael. Would it be appropriate to liken Jesus' commanding call to that of someone lesser in authority? Reasonably, then, the archangel Michael is Jesus Christ. (Interestingly, the expression "archangel" is never found in the plural in the Scriptures, thus implying that there is only one.)
Revelation 12:7-12 says that Michael and his angels would war against Satan and hurl him and his wicked angels out of heaven in connection with the conferring of kingly authority on Christ. Jesus is later depicted as leading the armies of heaven in war against the nations of the world. (Rev. 19:11-16) Is it not reasonable that Jeus would also be the one to take action against he one he described as "ruler of this world," Satan the Devil? (John 12:31) Daniel 12:1 (RS) associates the 'standing up of Michael' to act with authority with "a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time." That would fit the experience of the nations when Christ as heavenly executioner takes action against them. So the evidence indicates that the Son of God was known as Michael before he came to earth and is known also by that name since his return to heaven where he resides as the glorified spirit Son of God.
(Underscores mine. These point out the loaded language the Watchtower Society uses to prejudice readers into accepting their [very oftentimes false] conclusions. Note, too, that while the term "archangel" may only appear once in the Scriptures, Michael in Daniel is only "one of the chief princes," thus implying -- LOL -- that there is more than one prince, or archangel. ;) Note, also, that there is no reason why "someone lesser in authority" should sound the trumpet call for the resurrection. After all, according to Witness theology, Jesus is "lesser in authority" than Jehovah God, right? And, too, when a General sends his troops out in battle, even though it could be a major or a captain who was on the scene actually fighting the battle, who is said to have fought and won said battle? Why, the General!)
Number 2: As to whether or not the Witnesses have tampered with the Bible. This is a subject dear to my heart. When I was a Witness and conducting a Bible study with a Catholic woman we got into a discussion over whether or not the bread and wine of communion were actually flesh and blood. (Catholics believe they are transfigured into Jesus' flesh and blood by the prayers of the faithful said over the 'meal' during Mass.) Again, this is what the Reasoning has to say (p. 262-3):
What did Jesus mean when he said, "This is my body," "This is my blood"?
Matt. 26:26-29, JB: "Now as they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to the disciples, 'Take it and eat;' he said 'this is my body.' Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them. 'Drink all of you from this,' he said 'for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. From now on, I tell you, I shall not drink wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in the kingdom of my Father.' "
Regarding the expressions "this is my body" and "this is my blood," the following is noteworthy: Mo reads, "it means my body," this means my blood." (Italics added) NW reads similarly. LEF renders the expressions, "this represents my body," "this represents my blood." (Italics added.) These renderings agree with that is stated in the contest, in verse 29, in various Catholic editions. Kx reads: "I shall not drink of this fruit of the vine again, until I drink it with you, new wine, in the kingdom of my Father." (Italics added.) CC, NAB, Dy also show Jesus referring to what was in the cup as being "this fruit of the vine," and that was after Jesus had said, "This is my blood."
Consider the expressions "this is my body" and "this is my blood" in the light of other vivid language used in the Scriptures. Jesus also said, "I am the light of the world," "I am the gate of the sheepfold," "I am the true vine." (John 8:12; 10:7; 15:1, JB) None of these expressions implied a miraculous transformation, did they?
At 1 Corinthians 11:25 (JB), the apostle Paul wrote concerning the Last Supper and expressed the same ideas in slightly different words. Instead of quoting Jesus as saying regarding the cup, "Drink all of you from this ... for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant," he worded it this way: "This cup is the new covenant in my blood." Surely that did not mean that the cup was somehow miraculously transformed into the new covenant. Is it not more reasonable to conclude that what was in the cup represented Jesus' blood by means of which the new covenant was validated?
(FYI, bk62, the abbreviations for the Bible versions above are:
JB - Jerusalem Bibles, Mo - Moffat, NW - New World Translation, LEF - Lefevre, Kx - Knox, CC - Confraternity of Christian Doctrine's NT, NAB - New American Bible, Dy - Douay
Now, having been raised a Protestant, and then becoming a JW, I don't believe in the transfiguration. However, there are problems with the Watchtower's arguments:
1/ Just because Moffat and Lefevre agree with the NWT authors doesn't negate the fact that more Bible translators disagree with those translators. Most translators take to heart the Bible's admonition not to add or take away a word from the Bible.
2/ My Bible student's question was not so much what did Jesus "mean" when he said what he did, but what did Jesus "say" about the bread and the wine. It is here that the New World Translation is dishonest. The NWT translates Matthew 26:26-29 as "this means my body" this "means my blood." But if one compares the Greek at 1 Corinthians 11:24,25 which uses "means", to Matthew 26 and Luke 22:19, 20 and Mark 14:22,24 in The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (published by the Society), based on Westcott and Hort's much touted -- by the JWs -- word for word translation of the Greek, this is what they read:
"this is the body of me"; "this is the blood of me of the covenant".
In the Society's own words on page 5 of the 1969 version of this reference work, the Societe states "To aid such seekers of truth and life is the purpose behind the publishing of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures. Its literal interlinear English translation is specially designed to open up to the student of the Sacred Scriptures what the original koine Greek basically or literally says, without any sectarian coloration. " (Underscore mine.) Obviously, they had no problem deciding to color their own translation according to their beliefs.
3/ You and your wife might want to further investigate WHY, since the Scriptures DO SAY that all in the congregation are to eat and drink, only a static number of approximately 8,000 worldwide in the last decade actually eat and drink "in remembrance of [Jesus]"? The short answer, of course, is that only the 144,000 are so invited. Is this really so? Also, ask your wife who HER mediator is. If she answers Jesus Christ, ask her to look more closely at JW teachings. Because, unless she professes to be of the 'anointed' she is wrong. Research in Insight in the Scriptures will be necessary to find out more about this little known and alarming JW teaching.)
Number 3: The short answer is that the "eternal torment" or "punishment" referred to in Revelation at Chapters 14:9-11 and 20:10 are explained by Rev. 11:10 where the prophets 'torment those dwelling on the earth' by the public humiliation that the message these prophets bear heaps on its listeners. Also, since "the dead are not conscious of anything at all," (Eccl. 9:5), they cannot experience post-death literal torment. However, they can experience "everlasting cutting-off" or "destruction" in evelation 21:8's "lake of fire." Those experiencing that second death will be "held under restraint forever" along with Satan. Hell is the destruction of "all of a person's life prospects." (Reasoning from the Scriptures, pages 172-174.)
May I here just say that I agree with Francois, please DON'T have any children until you and your bride can agree on what kind of religious upbringing they will have. Life is very sad for JW children. (Read other personal experiences here to learn the pain and trauma of being "different" in so many ways.)
Reading Crisis of Conscience should vaccinate you against this cult. Ask your wife to please read it, and if she still thinks the religion is "the Truth" after that? Well, divorce might be a good thing to consider. (Yes, it's that serious!)