3/29/11 Earl, Al 50’s
Today at Starbucks two well dressed African American men graciously agreed to answer my questions. Since they both described themselves as ministers I turned my usual line of questions around and asked what they would tell me if I had asked them how I could be saved. This started a long interesting conversation revealing that Al is a Jehovah’s Witness and Earl a lay minister at a Baptist church. Though they have been lifetime friends and business partners, they have never really discussed their beliefs which are actually very different from one another. After 20 years of knocking on doors as a Witness, Earl was much more articulate about his beliefs and able to back them up with Scripture, leaving Al silently listening to our conversation. We talked about basic differences between orthodox Christianity and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, that Christians believe Jesus is the only begotten son of God, the creator, not a created being, and thus the only worthy sacrifice in place of the punishment we deserve for our sin against holy God. Instead of faith in Jesus the eternal son of God, the Witnesses have trivialized our sin against God as being forgiven by the sacrifice of a lesser, created being, or punished by annihilation rather than eternal hell. Jesus is the foundation of our faith, and errors in understanding his divine nature have implications for our entire understanding of what it means to be in a right relationship with our Creator. Neither of us convinced the other, but all three of us agreed we enjoyed and were sharpened by our conversation.