In a previous post, I looked at how the Jehovah’s Witnesses get some things right. That is the first section of my book, The Watchtower and the Word. The second section of my book deals with what I consider the Samaritan issues of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
What are Samaritan issues? This is inspired by the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1-26. As Jesus and the woman are talking, the conversation starts to hit too close to home. The woman tries to distract Jesus by bringing up a religious controversy about the proper place of worship. The Jews and the Samaritans saw this issue as an identity marker and in this case, the woman used it to try and avoid the discussion that would change her life.
I see this sort of thing taking place with Jehovah’s Witnesses as well. They have certain beliefs that they see as important but that really are identity markers.
I was sitting with some friends in a coffee shop once and a lady at the next table recognized from our conversation that we were Christians. She was a Jehovah’s Witness and she asked us if we knew what the Greek word for cross was. She may have been surprised when I blurted out, stauros. Her point was that the literal meaning of stauros is stake and not cross. It is unlikely that the shape of the wood that Jesus died on is God’s primary concern but the Jehovah’s Witnesses use this as an identity marker. Those who know the true shape are insiders and the rest are outsiders.
Why is this important? I have found that Jehovah’s Witnesses bring up topics like the cross, birthdays, holidays and other topics when we should really be talking about Jesus. These are distractions that work very well at keeping our conversations from being productive.
In The Watchtower and the Word, I offer responses to these Samaritan issues but I also encourage people to steer the conversation back to the topics that matter. If you are interested, pick up a copy in paperback or Kindle.