[I got the following email about six weeks ago from my friend Jenny (early 30s, married, three children). Note: I’ve changed the names of any people I know who are mentioned because their questions and situations represent all of us. Aside from Jenny and her family going to the church where I work and the fact that we have a close mutual friend, we also share a interest in several of the same reality TV shows (mostly on MTV, VH1 and Bravo). Like many stay at home parents, Jenny doesn’t usually have a lot of contact with other adults during the day, so when a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses rang her doorbell a few months ago and seemed interested in talking, she invited them in. They had a nice conversation and they’ve been coming back every other week since. Jenny is not interested in becoming a Jehovah’s Witness (and they’re aware of this), but the talks she has had with her new friends have led her to some great questions about God, the Bible and her faith, and that is why she wrote me an email and why we have been writing back and forth ever since. Over the next few days I will be posting portions of our emails in the order that they were sent/received. (By the way, she gave me permission to do this.) I have intentionally left some of the quirks and side comments in the emails to make them feel a bit more real/human, but the writer in me couldn’t help but clean up some of the spelling and grammar. I have no idea if people will find this interesting or helpful, but my hope is that it will be both. Besides, how often do you get to read other people’s mail? As always, feel free to comment.]
Subject: I have a few questions
Date: Thu, Mar 6, 2008 at 3:42 PM
Okay–I have a question for you–a couple maybe. Sarah said she filled you in on my new friends who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. So, a few things have come up that I am unsure about. I don’t know how much you know about their religion (probably more than me) but, I guess they are VERY or only bible based-which is what intrigued me about visiting with them. Learning more about what is written in the bible is something I have been meaning to do for a long time-they are giving me a reason to do that. However, I am having a hard time finding things in the bible. So I will ask you! If you don’t mind!
1. They say that when we die, we return to our beginning-the dust until God comes again and makes his heavenly kingdom on earth. That his original plan was for us to live harmoniously here and in the end he will return the earth to his original intention for it. Only Jesus, God and the apostles are in heaven–we will not go. He as promised us an earthly paradise.
2. There is no hell.–However, I have found several passages in the bible that mention hell. They told me that many people think we are going to heaven or hell, but God never said we would go to hell.
3. This is from a podcast I listened to with Chuck Swindoll–not from the JWs. In his closing prayer he prayed ~nothing occurs in our lives that has not been wonderfully planned by you, our father. Really?
In trying to figure out why bad things happen to good people, I have tried to reason that although God has a plan for our lives, he has also given us all free will. That free will is what is to blame for the awful things that happen in people’s lives but God will help us through it. He will help make lemonade out of lemons. Does he really throw bad things at us to test us? See what we will do? I think of Amanda and Mike who I do not know, except through what Sarah shares, but did God really make Grace [their little daughter] sick to make them stronger or for some other purpose? I really struggle with this one. I also feel like I am going to have kids asking me this soon, and I don’t think I can answer it.
Okay, I know you have a life and are not just sitting at the computer waiting to answer the help line. Don’t feel bad about not answering all or any of my questions. I just thought I would throw it out there since Sarah said you might be open to it! So really, no pressure!
Hope all is well with you. Sarah said that Journey has been awesome! And, I may be way off, but is this your last semester of school?
Are you having withdrawals from The Hills? I have been watching the Gauntlet 3 to try and fill the void!
[Click HERE to read my response to this email.]