10/20/09 Reuben, about 30
I stopped Reuben on the sidewalk and he was happy to talk about his beliefs. He believes in eternal life but not heaven. "That's for the 144,000 saints" he said, and told me he believes people will either stay here on earth or simply be destroyed because "God is loving and wouldn't punish people". He is almost at the end of a year of training and plans to be baptized as a Jehovah's Witness in a few weeks. He agreed that, regardless of its location, he believes he will be in "heaven". "Why? Do you deserve it?" I asked. "No, not when you put it that way - that would be an arrogant thing for me to say." Reuben knows he is far from perfect, but his hope is that he will be "good enough". "Do you want to always wonder whether you are good enough?" I asked. "That's no way to live!" he exclaimed. "So what do the Jehovah's Witnesses say about Jesus? Why did he die on the cross?" I asked. Reuben said he has been taught that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but its not that simple - "we need to live like Jesus in order to become saved". "Wasn't Jesus' death on the cross enough to pay for our sins?" "You know, I always wondered about that" he replied. I explained that the Jehovah's Witness's have changed many key passages in their New World Translation, so that it says we must work to earn salvation. Our long conversation covered a lot of theological ground, and I believe Reuben may be better able to think through these questions on his own.