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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Friday, November 08, 2013

How Hard is It to Change a Belief?

In the blog this week, I've been talking about how one evangelizes and how evangelism means changing a person's beliefs. If you've missed the previous posts, you can find them here and here. Today, I'd like to talk about the practical implications of witnessing, especially to those who hold to different faith backgrounds.

Last night, I had an engaging conversation with two gentlemen who are Jehovah's Witnesses. I had spoken with one previously, and they were now coming to discuss more deeply whether Jesus was God. I had offered them the John 1:3 argument in our previous meeting and now continued to show how Jesus does things only God can do, has attributes and powers that only God has, and claims titles reserved to God alone.  We spoke about how Jesus Himself said that worship was reserved to God alone (Matt. 4:10) and even when John, being overwhelmed at the vision in the book of Revelation fell down at the angel's feet, the angel rebuked him and said that as a created being, he didn't deserve worship. Worship is reserved for God alone. (Rev 19:10). I then took them to Hebrews 1:5-6, which reads:
"For to which of the angels did God ever say, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you'? Or again, 'I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son'? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, 'Let all God's angels worship him.'"
My guests had never heard about this passage before. They quickly turned to Hebrews in their New World Translation and breathed a momentary sigh of relief because Hebrews 1:6 reads a bit differently there:  "And let all of God's angels do obeisance to him." They began to say how doing obeisance is a simple act of recognition. However, I happened to have a 1961 version of the NWT in my library. In that version, the Greek word proskyneō (προσκυνέω) is translated worship. Even the Jehovah's Witnesses' own scriptures said that God the Father commanded the worship of Jesus by the angels! I further explained that this Greek word is the same word that Jesus used in the Matthew passage and that the Revelation passage.

As the night went on, I offered other evidences, both biblically and logically. While there were many things that they had never considered before, they held fast to the theology of the Watchtower, even resorting to show that their good deeds proved the Watchtower was God's appointed organization.

But why? Why wouldn't these men, who truly were earnest in their time with me, want to change their beliefs when faced with so many arguments and even the proof of change verified by the two different approaches to Hebrews 1:6? The evidence that the Watchtower was changing the words of scripture to suit their purposes was there in black and white!  The reason is this: not all beliefs are the same and people will not give up on those beliefs that are deeply held so easily.

Think about it for a moment. If someone was raised by his family in the faith of the Watchtower, then you are telling him that not only does he believe the wrong thing, but the faith to which he dedicated his entire life is a fraud.  More than that, if he embraces the historic Christian faith, then he is acknowledging that all his family and friends are all going to hell! That's a lot to swallow in one sitting. Think about what you would have to give up if you were to renounce Christianity for, say, Islam. All your memories of childhood Christmases would be an exercise in wrong practice. Your children will not have that same experience. Your parents would be considered "infidels", committing the sin of Shirk by ascribing attributes to Jesus that are Allah's alone. You would have to give up your social time at your church and start again. 

Add to all this the spiritual war that is also raging as the Devil seeks to keep every soul out of heaven and you can soon realize that there is no "magic bullet." There is no phrase or argument that will convert people.  You can only be faithful to deliver the message as effectively as you can so God may use that faithfulness to His glory.

Sometimes I think Christians don't realize momentous an event it is when a lost soul comes to Christ. It takes a lot of work, a lot of prayer, and a true reliance on the Holy Spirit. That's why it's important to keep sharing. Continue to provide new information to that person and continue to show the contradictions that stem from their existing beliefs. Who knows what God would use to open the ears of one who is lost? We do know that God wants to use the exchange of ideas to reach the unsaved. Romans 10:14 tells us "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?"

I know it's hard work and sometimes it's easy to feel that you're wasting your time. I've felt that way, too. But take comfort in the words that Paul shared with the Christians in Galatia, "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."


  1. So, let us have a discussion about what you believe to be a convincing argument.

    It is clear you are connected or have some leanings towards the triune theology of Jehovah. But still, even though you say what some of the talking point were, I do not know the nature or flow of your conversation with these two persons that you stated you were engaged. However, I would like to challenge your viewpoint and assumptions.

    First, it would appear, based on how you have presented your argument, a person knowing very little of the subject or of the message to the Hebrews Christian Congregation, would think Hebrews 1:5-6 are independent statements not connected to anything within chapter 1 or any other verse, that they stand alone with know surrounding context required, needed and relevant for clarification.

    Second, In 1769 the Oxford University Press published an edition of the King James version in which many small changes were made. These changes were of five kinds: 1. Greater and more regular use of italics; 2. minor changes in the text; 3. the adoption of modern spelling; 4. changes in the marginal notes and references; and, 5. correction of printers' errors. This edition soon came to be known as "The Oxford Standard" edition, because it was widely accepted as a standard text by commentators and other publishers. The editions of the King James version published in our century generally reproduce this Oxford edition of 1769, with or without the marginal notes (

    In other words, the KJ of 1161 is much different than the version you are quoting which I believe was published in 1982. Hence, there is good reason to update. Modern language and cultures change but the bible message remains the same. In order to ensure today's reader is getting it the way the bible writer wanted it to be understood, adjustments need to be made without altering the scriptural intent. So, in short, there are numerous words and phrases that readers of the KJ do not use anymore.

    That being the case, you should not be implying that our bible is some how different because it read slightly different. Their are hundreds or maybe thousands of bibles that read verses slightly different from the bible you are reading but convey the same scriptural meaning.

    Three, how is it that you conveniently ignoring Hebrew 1:1-4 in your commentary. You do not see the complete thought?

  2. "That being the case, you should not be implying that our bible is some how different because it read slightly different. Their are hundreds or maybe thousands of bibles that read verses slightly different from the bible you are reading but convey the same scriptural meaning."

    There is a large difference between altering words and altering meaning. Though modern translations of the Bible have have different wording, the NWT specifically alters the meaning. Many of the Greek words have been removed or altered. Especially throughout the book of John. This clearly reveals the forced theological purpose behind the recreation of the NWT.

    "The most revealing evidence of the Watchtower's bias is their inconsistent translation technique. Throughout the Gospel of John, the Greek word theon occurs without a definite article. The New World Translation renders none of these as “a god.” Just three verses after John 1:1, the New World Translation translates another case of theos without the indefinite article as "God." Even more inconsistent, in John 1:18, the NWT translates the same term as both "God" and "god" in the very same sentence.

    The Watchtower, therefore, has no hard textual grounds for their translation—only their own theological bias. While New World Translation defenders might succeed in showing that John 1:1 can be translated as they have done, they cannot show that it is the proper translation. Nor can they explain the fact that that the NWT does not translate the same Greek phrases elsewhere in the Gospel of John the same way. It is only the pre-conceived heretical rejection of the deity of Christ that forces the Watchtower Society to inconsistently translate the Greek text, thus allowing their error to gain some semblance of legitimacy in the minds of those ignorant of the facts." -Michael Houdmann

  3. Why do you have a picture of a bullet? Lol


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