A few weeks ago, a Jehovah’s Witness and her little apprentice (I felt sorry for this chap because he definitely did not want to be there) stopped by the house to chat. One thing struck me as unique in my experiences with JW’s: dialog. Instead of trying to disprove my supposedly fallacious belief that Jesus is equal with the God the Father (not a created being as JW’s believe), she began to ask questions.
That methodology showed respect, albeit slight respect, for what I held dear, and is very commendable. Instead of immediately telling people they are wrong, asking questions not only reveals to us what they really believe, but also shows we care. It made me want to enter into a dialog as opposed to running from or charging angrily into oncoming enemy fire.
However the methodological problem which struck me most forcefully was her selection of passages. She picked perhaps three of the most confusing passages or books in the bible. Passages which have a myriad of different interpretations and require extensive knowledge of not only the entire bible, but also genre analysis and history. The book of Daniel, the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24, and Revelation.
It is not wise to build your theology upon passages which Christians throughout the ages have come to a wide variety of conclusions. Best to start your theology upon that which is most clear, and allow the passages that are clear to help interpret those which are unclear. Just a helpful interpretive principle handed down to us by the Reformers.