…..and it didn’t hurt. They were a trio of lovely people. One of whom I had met several times until, I suspect, she (a 70+ Italian living in England) was banned from visiting me; I can only assume that was the case, since her frequent visits stopped so suddenly. It may have been my poor tea making ability, but in all honesty, I do pride myself on making pretty dang good tea!
Anyhoo, the trio were loitering around the cliffs of Devon whence I came upon them. I have a love for these people “of faith” and tried to convey as much. As soon as it was revealed, like a dirty secret on EastEnders, that I was a “Christian”, and worse, a “Baptist minister”, well, all manner of gehenna and rotten-exegesis broke loose.
I wanted to go down the relational, friendly, understanding, “liberal”, loving route, but was thwarted by the doctinaire police from the school of eisegetical proof-texting sloganeering. I really wanted to love these beloved personages towards the love of God, but they seemed intent, bent…..hell-bent on bringing to the fore an apocalyptic Hebrew Scriptural Hermeneutic that astounded, but sadly, didn’t surprise me.
What do I mean, I hear you sigh? Well, for one, the strength of their apologetic was rooted in an Old Testament apocalyptic rhetoric of judgment and retribution. I know full well there are Pslams (other genre are available) that betray a particular aspect of sin and judgment and wotnot. But, for the love of God, the love of God was not so much a silent witness, as more a total absentee; more AWOL than anything else (“You weren’t there man!”)
When asked what the primary message of Jesus was, it turned out to be a revenge attack on the wicked and immoral. I asked, in all seriousness, with a straight face, “Did the coming of Jesus make any difference?” “Yes!” they replied, before quoting extensively from the imprecatory Psalms.
My heart sank, whilst my eyebrows rose and my toes curled. Jesus didn’t make a difference from a pre-Gospel; pre-incarnation; pre-logos-becoming-flesh text.
“Didn’t Jehovah say we will be his witnesses?” Indeed my ill-learned friend, he did (Isaiah 43:10). But why fixate on an Old Testament text when you could fixate on a New Testament text: “…and you will be my (Jesus’) witnesses in Judea, Samaria….everywhere…” (Acts 1:8). Jehovah’s Witnesses-Jesus wtnesses….oh my brain can’t cope with this theological explication!
What a great eye-brow was raised that day! Like I’d invented the verse. Anyway, that’s (not) a moot point. The point is this. Given the apocalypyical legerdemain, I thought I’d ask a simple question to my three friends, the Jehovah’s Witnesses:
“Where are the Jehovah’s Witness between AD 100 and when Charles Taze Russell decided to have a go in the 1870’s?”