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The Rich Man and Lazarus: The Watchtower Explanation

Lazarus Watchtower viewThe Watchtower rejects as pagan the teaching that people have souls which have consciousness which survives physical death. It also rejects as pagan and God-dishonoring the teaching that unrepentant people suffer torment and anguish after their deaths.

Because of this, the Watchtower does not accept Jesus’ account of the rich man and Lazarus at face value. It rejects completely the Christian view of the passage which we covered in the previous post.

Instead, the Watchtower inserts its own meanings for all the people and events in Jesus’ account and then proclaims itself the defender of reasonableness and biblical consistency. What it ends up with is a fanciful and self-contradictory interpretation of its own creation.

However, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe what the Watchtower tells them. In order to get through to them, you first need to understand what they believe. Continue reading

The Rich Man and Lazarus: Christian View

Lazarus Christian viewOne of the primary passages that teaches a conscious existence after death and refutes the Watchtower’s annihilation-of-the-wicked doctrine is Jesus’ account of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. Here is how that passage reads in the Revised Standard Version: Continue reading

Scriptures that Show Conscious Existence After Death

Rich Life after deathWhen discussing what happens after death, the Watchtower is selective in the texts it examines. Rather than looking at all verses that bear on the matter of conscious existence after death, it ignores passages that don’t support its doctrine. Draw these passages to their attention and ask for their explanation. Continue reading

Anatomy of a Proof Text: Ezekiel 18:4

Rich Ez 18_4Jehovah’s Witnesses often quote Ezekiel 18:4: “Look! All the souls—to me they belong. As the soul of the father so also the soul of the son—to me they belong. The soul who sins is the one who will die.” (Watchtower’s 2013 New World Translation)

To a Jehovah’s Witness, this verse proves that at death, human beings are not conscious of anything; rather, they go out of existence completely unless and until Jehovah decides to resurrect them.

They don’t seem aware that they are making a lot of intermediate assumptions in order to arrive at that conclusion.

Here are some of those assumptions: Continue reading

Interpreting Ecclesiastes in Context

Rich book EcclIn last week’s post, I discussed how to respond to six words from Ecclesiastes 9:5, the Watchtower’s primary proof text for its teaching that the dead have no conscious existence until the resurrection: “… the dead know nothing at all…” (all quotes will be from the Watchtower’s own 2013 New World Translation)

My recommendation was to have them read the rest of verse 5 and all of verse 6 to see if the passage expresses God’s viewpoint or merely the perspective of a man who is looking on this life as all there is: “… the dead know nothing at all, nor do they have any more reward, because all memory of them is forgotten. Also, their love and their hate and their jealousy have already perished, and they no longer have any share in what is done under the sun.”

I also suggested that you look at Ecclesiastes 1:2 and ask the same question with regard to the book of Ecclesiastes as a whole: “‘The greatest futility!’ says the congregator, ‘The greatest futility! Everything is futile!’”

Sometimes Witnesses will persist in ignoring the context and insist that “the dead know nothing at all” is  truth revealed by God. If that happens, I recommend that you have them look at other passages in Ecclesiastes to see if they express Jehovah’s viewpoint. Here are several passages you can use for this purpose. Beware of overkill, though. Only use as many of them as necessary to make the point. Continue reading

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