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He Shared His Faith with the Dalai Lama

Line of Fire / Dr. Michael Brown
The Truth Network Radio
December 7, 2022 5:11 pm

He Shared His Faith with the Dalai Lama

Line of Fire / Dr. Michael Brown

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December 7, 2022 5:11 pm

The Line of Fire Radio Broadcast for 12/07/22.

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The following is a pre-recorded program. James Beverly, a man who's a research scholar with a very inquisitive mind that really loves to study and dig into evidence, and has had some amazing encounters and interactions with a wide range of people, from a man that used to be the world's leading atheist, Anthony Flu, to the Dalai Lama, to head of the Church of Satan, to ex-Jehovah's witnesses, and folks involved in Scientology, you name it. So I asked him to come on and talk with me about some of the most interesting people he's met over the years, and as a Christian himself, what his perspective is on these people in meetings. And then he's also been doing research on the 2000 Mules documentary, Claiming Election Fraud. When he was on with me a couple months back, he was impressed initially with the video and the research, but has been digging deeper and has an update on his opinion of the documentary.

So we'll get into that as well. I won't be taking phone calls, just devoting the time to my interview with my friend, Dr. James Reveley. Jim, welcome back to the Line of Fire. Always a joy to have you. Thanks, Mike.

It's an honor to be on your show. All right, so let's start with Anthony Flu, who for years was perhaps the world's best known atheist, and clearly someone who differed with Christian views and the idea of theism, that there was a God who was actively and personally involved in our lives. So how did you meet Professor Flu? I met him through a course I took with him at York University in Toronto in the middle of the 1980s. I knew about him for years. By the time I studied with him, I was already a professor for about seven years, and I got a sabbatical to do a PhD, and as part of the PhD, I went in a class with Flu.

I knew of his work before. In fact, I taught about his views, and so I was really excited to go to this course and meet him and study with him, although I should say to viewers I was also a bit nervous. Here I am, 31 years old at the time, about to study with a famous atheist who wrote one of the most famous critical articles about belief in God, just when he was a young professor. So here I am in the lion's den with this leading atheist, so I was nervous. What if he convinces me there's no God or that you shouldn't trust Jesus? Well, here it is now, how many years later, over 30 years later, and I'm still a believer in Jesus.

So the course didn't change my mind. All right, now of course he had his own interesting journey, but let's start first with what people knew about Anthony Flu. Why was he such an influential atheist? What was so powerful about the article that he wrote?

Well, he was trained at Oxford and then went on to teach at Oxford and then went to other universities. He wrote really clear books. A lot of philosophers write books no one can understand. His are very clear and crisp, and he got famous for writing a critique of belief in God and said that it was a belief without good evidence, and so people who follow the evidence don't find it leading to belief in God. So that article that he wrote many decades ago made him probably the most famous atheist in the world.

Now famous is in a certain context. He wasn't famous on Wall Street or in the New York Times, but he was famous in the world of Christian scholarship and the world of philosophy, although by the time he died, his conversion to belief in God made the New York Times. So by the time he died, he was a world-renowned thinker. Anyway, I studied with him, and then to my amazement, there was not that many students in the class, and I was the only PhD student and the only one who knew the topics that we were discussing really well, because I had already been trained in philosophy. So it was a course on David Hume, and I was the only one who knew David Hume reasonably well. Nothing compared to to Flew, but anyway we struck up conversations quite a lot, and also we became friends after, and I visited his home in Reading, England quite a few times before he died.

All right, so this is fascinating. What was the the title of the course? Oh, it was probably something like the philosophy of David Hume. All right, and as a scholar, were you impressed with with Flew's scholarship? Oh, he knew David Hume like good Christians know the Bible. He could cite pages by memory. He would just mention something and then say, this is on page 30 of the treatise of human understanding. So he was amazing in terms of his knowledge of Hume. He really loved Hume and thought he was one of the greatest philosophers, so he was a first-class philosopher. All right, and as a human being, you know, professors can be all types and stripes, and sometimes their writings don't reflect their personality, or their in-class personality is different than their public personality. First, what kind of person was he, just in terms of generally speaking, and second, how did he treat you when he found out you were Christian?

I'll take the second one first. I got treated with respect, no problems at all. He was very encouraging to me. I got an A, I think an A plus on my paper, so I never had any problem that way.

In terms of his personality, he's like, he's not... Boy, you're a busy man. Phone calls and everything.

Yeah, a lot of people... Home phone, I turned it off. Yeah, all right. Anyway, these things happen.

Go ahead. He was a really nice guy. He's not, he's not Mr. outgoing, but he's nice, polite, a very good thinker, etc. And from your understanding, from your understanding, what was his fundamental reason, if you could boil it down, for so strongly rejecting the existence of God for most of his life? The problem of pain and the problem of evil, and then he just didn't think the evidence was that good for God, but then over time he changed his mind. You know, I remember one night in class I asked him, and this is when I'm not sure how open he is, etc., but I asked him after class one night, are there any advantages to being a theist, a believer in God? And he said, oh of course there is. If you believe in God, you know where you're from, you know why you're here, and you know where you're going. Now that stunned me at the time, because here's this really famous atheist admitting that the other side has some really good advantages.

It's a shame it's not true, but if it were true, it would be very nice. You know, one last thing that I remember from class, my brother Bob, who's a psychotherapist, was trained in philosophy as well, and he knew about flu, and so he asked if he came to Toronto, could he go to class with me? So, flu agreed that my brother Bob could go to class with me, and went through the class, and then afterwards we took flu out for coffee, and I told my brother ahead of time, you know, I get to see him every week, you can ask all the questions you want. And I'll remember this for the rest of my life, my brother said to him, do you ever doubt? And of course in that context it means, do you ever doubt as an atheist?

Yeah. And to our surprise he said yes. And then he said, when I was a student at Oxford in the days of C.S. Lewis, we were taught that all the New Testament came from the second century, so it was easy to dismiss its historical integrity, but now we know that the New Testament largely is a product of the first century, and then he said, I don't know how they could write it down so early and just have made it up and got away with it. So that's, and then later on after he became a believer in God, he went back to that topic and he said in several places that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is the clearest evidence of any miracle in history. No, he still didn't believe it, but he thought it was impressive.

All right, so we've got three minutes before the break. Give me the essence of what ultimately changed his mind and converted him from atheist to theist. It would be the design argument and also maybe a version.

It would be actually the classical arguments sort of had their combined strength. He was impressed by the cosmological arguments, like from Alvin Plantinga. He was impressed by teleological arguments from a guy named Gerald Schrader.

I think that's his name. So it was the classical arguments, argument from cause and effect, and then the teleological argument, the incredible design of the universe. And how did he ultimately resolve, though, the problem of pain? I don't think he did.

I think he just thought we live in a universe full of pain and that's the way it is. By the way, when I did an article for Christianity Today about him, he said that he wanted people to know. He didn't turn to God because he was scared to die. He actually said, I want to die soon and I'm not scared to die and I don't hope to live again. So he became a believer in God because of the evidence, and the atheist world went wild. They said he was losing his mind.

It was dementia, but it wasn't. So he also, I'm glad to say that when I interviewed him the last time in his house, he said that Jesus is the greatest example of charismatic, charismatic whoever lived. Now, by charismatic he means dynamic, powerful, fascinating. I wish he had turned that appreciation for Jesus into belief, but as far as I know he didn't. Well, it is great that he confessed how great Jesus was. He just had his own areas of doubt.

Yeah, and of course God's his ultimate judge. What an amazing journey. Hey friends, if you would like to sign up for Professor Beverly's informative newsletter, here's how you get it. You write to him at James Beverly, that's James B-E-V-E-R-L-E-Y, James Beverly at simpatico.ca, as in Canada. So James Beverly, B-E-V-E-R-L-E-Y at simpatico, that's S-Y-M-P-A-T-I-C-O dot C-A. If you watch it on YouTube, we'll put the links up as well so you can get this, but one more time, James Beverly, just write them directly, B-E-V-E-R-L-E-Y at simpatico, S-Y-M-P-A-T-I-C-O dot C-A, and ask for his newsletter.

We'll be right back. It's the Line of Fire with your host, Dr. Michael Brown. Get on the Line of Fire by calling 866-34-TRUTH. Here again is Dr. Michael Brown. I'm speaking today with my good friend, Professor James Beverly.

He's just spent time with some very unique people from a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs, more so than just about anybody I know in terms of quality encounters and relationships with people, some of the meetings and settings he's been in, and he's been in it all the while as a believer and as a research professor. They just love us to study evidence and see where things go. All right, we're just going to get into this very briefly.

Folks will want to hear more, but we're going to do this very, very briefly. Initially, when you had watched the 2000 Mules documentary and begun to do background research, you were impressed with the evidence and leaning towards its authenticity. Since then, you've spent many, many hours further digging into this and interacting with other specialists. What's your current viewpoint of the 2000 Mules documentary?

Well, I just had a book about it come out on Amazon called Tracking 2000 Mules. It's a guide to the film and all the debates, and I've collected about a thousand articles on it. I'm less enthused now than I was when I first saw it, but that's because when I first saw it, I didn't know a lot of the issues involved. Now I know those issues, and I'm more skeptical about the film now than I was back in May when I was on your show.

I still don't have a bottom line. I've just learned about a month ago some new evidence that raises in question what's the ultimate explanation for the film. You know, the popular view among right-wing Christians or MAGA people is that the film is the greatest thing that proves the election was a fraud.

Other people say it's just a money-making scam. And then you get into some views that sort of blow my mind. There's one major figure who argues that the film is a plot by rhinos, Republicans in name only, to make Trump look bad because they've done a film that Trump has accepted, but most average people think is a fraud, which makes Trump look like a fraud. Now I find that the person who advocates that view is an incredible researcher and scholar, and so I'm going to look at that view simply because I respect this guy so much. On the surface, though, I find it almost inconceivable that Dinesh D'Souza or Katherine Engelbrecht or Greg Phillips are knowingly doing something to hurt Trump.

That's really hard to believe. The other theory is that Greg, the main researcher, hasn't told the truth about his research. Anyway, those things are all up in the air because one thing I've learned is not to commit finally to something until I know it in detail and have solved all the puzzles. So I hope to have something finalized in the next few weeks, just wrapping up some final things about the film.

And it mainly involves me writing. Dinesh, Greg, and Katherine are talking to them and asking them specific questions where I give them a chance to defend themselves from criticism. A lot of the criticisms are stupid. Like if I read one more time that Dinesh D'Souza is a felon and therefore the film is inaccurate, I'm going to scream.

That is an ad hominem argument. Yes, he committed a felony in 2014. On the scale of felonies, it was a minor one. He paid his price.

He got pardoned by Trump. None of that means that the film is not true. Someone can have a weakness in one area and still be telling the truth in another. Right, all clear. All clear on that. All right, so thanks for the update in detail, but the short version.

I appreciate it. Before we get into, oh, your encounter with the head of the Church of Satan, let's talk about the Dalai Lama. First, in short, who is the Dalai Lama? Why is he so significant? He's the most famous Buddhist in the world by far.

There's no one close to in terms of fame and reputation, so that's the number one reason. The number two reason is he's the head guru in a branch of Tibetan Buddhism, so his followers view him as sort of like a god-like figure. He's the highest evolved reincarnation on the planet today, so his followers believe he's sinless. They believe that he can do supernatural things, etc., etc. And he was like born and they recognized him as some kind of chosen one.

He was raised in, right, so there's a whole history with this lore to it. Okay, so he's not just a respected leader who speaks on political and international affairs and fighting for the freedom of Tibet, but this revered spiritual leader. How did you get to meet him, and how much time did you spend with him? I got to meet him, here's a funny angle on it, when I met him and interviewed him in India, I asked him how come he said yes, or I might have asked his assistant, I can't remember, but I asked, how did I get the interview? He gets 50 to 100 interview requests every day, so I asked how did I get the interview, and either he or his assistant said it was because Christianity Today magazine that sponsored the interview on my behalf, they were from Billy Graham, and so because of the Dalai Lama knew about Billy Graham, he said yes to the interview.

Interesting. He also told me that he was, that he liked the fact that I was a spiritual person and a Christian believer, and he likes that footing better than someone who's a atheist or agnostic. Got it, and how much time did you spend with him?

Well, I was told, I was told that, you know, the interview might go half an hour, and I should make sure that I asked the most crucial questions during that period, so I was watching the clock closely, and I made a comment about, you know, it's getting close to half an hour, and the Dalai Lama interrupted and said, this isn't New York or Washington, we can keep talking, so I think I got either 45 minutes or close to an hour. And was there any sense, there can be people who are just powerful leaders in the natural and have a certain aura about them, then there are people who are spiritual leaders, and it could be a demonic presence, it could be a holy presence, but there seems to be something about them that's different. How did you find being around him as compared to being around other people?

I found him to be just like being with your ordinary person. Now, he is dynamic, he can be very funny, he's powerful, so that needs to be noted, but I didn't get any special spiritual aura about him. I just viewed him as, here's this famous Buddhist guy. Now, people around me, I saw him in Chicago from a distance at the World Parliament of Religions, and then I saw him at a meeting in Washington that Richard Gere attended. Again, I was at a distance, you know, so this was my third time being reasonably close to him, and every time I got to see how Buddhists view him, you can tell as they look at him, as they cry about him, as they cheer for him, that they're looking, it's almost, it's like we would do if we could be with Jesus and see him. So the, like I remember in Chicago, there was a motorcade, enormous security, and then hundreds of Buddhists lined up on the side of the hotel to greet him, and it was, it was pandemonium, because, you know, the most famous Buddhist in the world has arrived. Yeah, very interesting.

All right, again, three minutes to talk about this. How did you feel he interacted with your views about the Christian faith? He was, well, he's a very open person, and he can put up with dialogue and debate.

He gave me a really good hearing. We spent quite a bit of time talking about Jesus, and I actually couldn't wait, Mike, to get to see him, because I knew I had a question which should have led him to Jesus. Sadly, he didn't follow the logic of the argument, but I couldn't believe what he said to get out of the argument.

So the argument is the one from C.S. Lewis, and so I presented to him, I said to him, you have said in an article that Jesus is truly enlightened, and then I said, if he's truly enlightened and saying those incredible things he said, if he's truly enlightened, then he's telling the truth, and that means that he is the son of God, the savior of the world, there is a God, etc. Now, Mike, there's no way, if you commit that Jesus is truly enlightened, how are you going to get away from saying that, well, you've got to just see that Jesus is who he said he is, if he's truly enlightened?

And no kidding, I'll remember this the rest of my life. He said, Jesus was allowed to teach what wasn't true, because people weren't ready to handle it. Now, in Buddhism that's called skillful means or upaya, but in any case it's a pathetic argument. First of all, what's so hard back then about, you know, in Jesus' time, what's so hard about handling the belief that there's a God and there's a son of God?

That's not that difficult. So it's sad he gave an answer that is really kind of pathetic. I wrote in my Christianity Today article, I wrote that I hope he keeps thinking about the implications of saying that Jesus is truly enlightened. Let me tell the listeners one last thing that happened to me. I tell you what, stay right there.

We'll pick it up on the other side of the break. Again, I'm speaking with Professor James Beverly. If you want to get his informative newsletter, just email him at James Beverly, that's l-e-y, james beverly at simpatico dot c-a, s-y-m-p-a-t-i-c-o dot c-a.

We'll be right back. It's The Line of Fire with your host Dr. Michael Brown. Get on The Line of Fire by calling 866-34-TRUTH.

Here again is Dr. Michael Brown. Looking back friends to The Line of Fire broadcast as I speak with Professor James Beverly about his time with the Dalai Lama. We're about to talk about his encounter with the head of the Church of Satan, but first you wanted to just add one more note about your time with the Dalai Lama.

Yeah, I'll be quick. I'll just mention a scattering of things, you know, just take a second. First, the Dalai Lama publicly has said that the idea that he's sinless is not true. He said to me and to others, listen to this, the most famous Buddhist in the world says, he is not worthy to be compared to Jesus.

I think he said that in a New York Times interview. And then the last thing, this is more of a sort of an encounter before I went in to interview him. I was at the security gate in his compound in northern India in Dharamsala, and just before I went in to go into this big interview, this verse hit me like it never has before. The verse came to my mind, every knee will bow to Jesus, every tongue will confess. And I think that was the Holy Spirit reminding me that even though I'm going to get a chance to talk to this famous Buddhist, I need to remember who is the ultimate Lord and Savior.

Yeah, absolutely. And God knows the seeds that you planted, and certainly many people pray for the Dalai Lama, who is highly respected for many reasons, and has done much good, and stood for many good causes, but obviously doesn't know the Lord, doesn't know the true God, and is a sinner in need of salvation like all the rest of us. All right, so from sitting with Dr. Anthony Flu in his own home, to sitting with the Dalai Lama in India, head of the Church of Satan, how in the world does that one come out? When I was doing my book, Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions, I was trying to collect a lot of material on all sorts of religions and groups, and I didn't have any really good material related to the Church of Satan. I had a few things, but I wrote an email on the Church of Satan website, and I said who I was, and then I said I'd like to have an image of Peter Gilmore, who's the head of the Church of Satan, and this would be back around 2007, 2008, and to my surprise, I got a letter or an email back from his wife saying that she would be glad to put me in touch with Peter, and that they would provide some material if he was happy with talking to me, etc. So it turned out that over these years since then, that I've had contact with him, because he supplied photos for my chapter and answered questions about Satanism and the Church of Satan that Anton LaVey founded, and then he became the leader down the line. Because he helped me, I said I'd like to meet him, and I knew that he lived in New York City, and my brother lives up the Hudson, so I knew I could go see him, so I went into New York and bought him lunch one day to say thank you for helping me. Now when I wrote my chapter on Satanism, I sent it to him quite gladly, and I said, you know, feel free to correct any mistakes I've made, and show me what the mistakes are, and he said after he read the chapter before it came out, he was annoyed that I put in other satanic groups, because there's quite a few of them, but still it's my chapter, so I kept it in. He did correct a few mistakes I made. Anyway, I met him in a restaurant in the middle of New York City, and I already knew from talking to him on the phone that he was basically a nice guy. So you're saying that the head of the Church of Satan was a nice guy who interacted with you in a civil way, who was not foaming at the mouth and wearing some, you know, head to toe black outfit and, you know, slithering in on like a snake when he sat and met with you, seemed just like a regular guy?

Yeah. Now one of the things that listeners should know about his type of Satanism, you know, the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey wrote the Satanic Bible, those types of Satanists, believe it or not, say clearly they don't believe in Satan. Satan is their tool to express freedom and antagonize Christians. Peter's told me quite a few times that he's trying to live a Jesus-free life, so they actually don't believe in Satan.

Now I think he's telling the truth. I don't think after he meets me or when he goes to bed at night that he's praying to Satan. He claims, and I think he's telling the truth, to be an atheist. And the whole Church of Satan gig from Anton LaVey is their way to push it into the face of Christians. They hate religion. Now there's other Satanists who think that they're a bunch of hypocrites because they don't really worship Satan. So Michael Aquino, one of the top lieutenants in the Church of Satan, he left it to start his own group to say that they're going to really worship Satan in his group. So anyway, listen, all I can tell you is from talking to Peter over the years and talking to his wife and meeting him, I think what I have said is the truth. I of course want him to come to believe in God and accept Jesus, but he's built up quite a barrier to it.

You can't win at the level of... Some people think, well, Satanists must be dummies and they don't know anything. Peter is a sophisticated intellectual. He's well trained academically. He's a professional musician. He's very creative.

He reads a lot. But sadly, in the end, he doesn't want to believe in God and doesn't want to follow Jesus. In your understanding, Anton LaVey, was he a real Satan believer?

I don't think so. I think he's like Peter Gilmore. He does not really believe in Satan. Satan is a way of talking.

It's a metaphor for standing up for freedom, resisting religion, which is the ultimate hypocrisy, and then celebrating the things that Christians can't celebrate, like sex and drinking and all that sort of thing. So in your interaction with him, what is his fundamental problem with Jesus? He doesn't think that he existed. He doesn't think the New Testament is reliable. But beyond that, beyond an intellectual rejection, is there a deeper spiritual moral rejection? I don't think in, like, he's not rejecting Jesus because he wants to commit adultery on his wife.

I think he's a faithful husband. So I think it's, you know, I think as C.S. Lewis wrote one time, there is such a thing as intellectual sin, and so if people don't follow the evidence that's in front of them, then you get verdicts in the Bible like the fool has said, in his heart, there's no God. Now one thing about that, I tell people this sometimes, you can be really smart and still a fool. You can be really smart and miss things and be blind. I've done that in my life.

Yeah, understandably, and we all can, which is why we humble ourselves and thank God for his grace rather than pat ourselves on the back and commend ourselves. All right, again, about three and a half minutes before break, did you go to, like, witchcraft meetings or anything like that? Yes, a few times over the years.

No, I still remember the first time. See, once I started teaching 40, well, over 40 years ago, I taught courses on religious groups, so I thought it would be a good idea to go to different religious groups, so, you know, I would go to Hindu meetings, Jewish meetings, Buddhist meetings, different cult groups, etc. And then one time I heard about a church in Toronto, the most famous witchcraft group, and I heard they met on a Sunday night, so I still remember walking down the stairs in my house and I had already told my wife, Gloria, that I was going to the witchcraft meeting, and I remember she said, be careful, I think you're crazy. So I went to it. Now, readers need to hear this. Two things.

One, I didn't go to worship, I went to watch. Right, I think we understand that. I think that's pretty clear.

Yeah, well, you never know. And then the other thing is, I think God made me that I can study falsehood and it doesn't get to me. Now, it makes me sad, disappointed about people's false beliefs, but not once in, you know, I started studying religious groups in the early 70s, so I've got 50 years into the study of religious groups. Not once have I ever been attracted to anything other than the gospel. Now, I've been attracted in terms of realizing that other people are nice in other religions, or there's some teachers that are very smart, but none of the groups ever made me think, oh, I should leave the church of Jesus Christ.

Right, right. You know, so anyway, I went to this witchcraft meeting. I've been to, over the years, I've been to several. Sometimes I've been completely ignored. Like, I might be the only non-witch in the meeting, and nobody says hello, so that made me realize what it'd be like to go to church and no one shows any interest. At this first time, though, people were very nice, very polite, engaging, you know, and it didn't fit the stereotype. These are all blood-drinking evil monsters. Got it.

Now, look, there is, there are very dark things that happen in Satanism, and there are people who are very dark witches, and there are there are abuse stories, etc., that are very real, but there's also a whole lot of stuff in the name of witchcraft in Satanism that is certainly on the dark side and dangerous, and opens one up to demonic influence, but is much more benign, much less overt. All right, we'll be, we'll be right back, and let's, we'll switch things over to, let's say, the son of a major Jehovah's Witness person, our interview that we get on Jehovah's Witnesses in the diminishing numbers some months back. He's got a lot of attention online. So, I'm speaking with Professor James Beverly, known to me, as Jim, as I'm known to him, as Mike, we'll be right back. It's the Line of Fire with your host, Dr. Michael Brown.

Get on the Line of Fire by calling 866-34-TRUTH. Here again is Dr. Michael Brown. Well, I hope you've been enjoying this fascinating interview with James Beverly. You've been playing recorded interviews. We recorded these just a few days ago while I'm in India, and got a couple days more in India than head home, God willing, on Saturday, so thanks for your prayer support. But we wanted, you'd have special broadcasts, really memorable broadcasts, when I was away, so we've taken time to record these with different guests. If you missed any of the previous interviews this week, everything's on our website, AskDr.Brown.org, AskDr.Brown.org, or easier, just make sure you have our app, Ask Dr. Brown Ministries, Ask Dr. Brown Ministries on Apple or Google, Android, so download that, and then any show you miss, it'll be right there, just last show, show before that, most recent article, all right there for you, so make sure you download the app, Ask Dr. Brown Ministries, Ask Dr. Brown Ministries.

You can also listen to the show live wherever you are, as long as you have cell phone reception. Okay, so I said a son of a former influential Jehovah's Witness, it's actually a very influential Jehovah's Witness, Jim Panton, who left the Jehovah's Witnesses, so tell us about that encounter and ongoing relationship. Sure, when I first became a professor, well, early on, I went to a conference and I met a guy with official title M. James Panton, Professor of History at the University of Lethbridge out in Alberta, and then I discovered that he was a former Jehovah's Witness, and he got kicked out, and so that started a friendship now over many decades.

He was the subject of my first book, Crisis of Allegiance, which just came out in the second edition. The Jehovah's Witness leadership should have listened to Jim when he raised concerns. He's always been the kind of person who's willing to to tell leadership what they need to hear, and so he came up with some ideas where he thought the leadership were going beyond the Bible teaching, that they were being a bit dictatorial, and he objected, and he didn't get kicked out at first, but then eventually when he wouldn't do what they said exactly, they removed him from membership, they just fellowshiped him. His wife was kicked out, his mother was kicked out, or resigned, I can't remember. His entire family left the organization, and he became, after that, some people who get kicked out of the cult group just go away, lick their wounds, don't want to do anything about it.

Jim Penton wasn't like that. He started a worldwide ministry to help witnesses who are still inside, and also he wanted to warn people about the witnesses. So he's been significant to me in terms of keeping me up to date on what's going on, and putting me in touch with other people, and he's now in his 80s. His first wife, Marilyn, passed away a number of years ago, but he still is active in warning people about the witnesses. He's written the most scholarly book on Jehovah's Witnesses, published by the University of Toronto Press, called Apocalypse Delayed.

I think it's in its third edition. Now here's what's amazing about him. I remember when I found out that he has a PhD in history, and I remember him telling me that he learned Greek in order to read the New Testament in the original.

I thought, oh boy, here's a guy who's going to be interesting to talk to. Well, it turns out that he left the witnesses, but he didn't leave the core of the Christian faith. He abandoned the stupid Jehovah's Witness views that they're unique for, and he has preserved, thankfully, the core of the Christian faith. He believes that Jesus died for us.

He rose again. He believes that, well, he believes in salvation by grace, which is very important because witnesses tend to be a works righteousness religion, so he's clear on salvation by grace. He said when he used to talk about grace as a Jehovah's Witness elder, he would cry when he was speaking, and he would tell people that our hope is in the grace of Jesus who died for our sins.

He was actually criticized for doing that, because that wasn't enough attention on, you know, your obedience to the Watchtower Society. Yeah, and obviously it's a heavily works-based, fear-based faith, ultimately. Yeah, it's an authoritarian group. It's the only group I've ever studied that actually said one time that you should believe the leaders even if you know they're not telling the truth. Well, why'd they say that? Well, I forget who said it. One of their leaders.

They said it just because that was their way of emphasizing, you better obey. Now, I think, to be fair, that was one leader. No leader has said it since, but neither did they correct the statement. The Watchtower leaders don't like to admit they're wrong. When I wrote my book about Jim Patton, I interviewed their public relations person in Canada, a really nice guy named Walter Graham, but it was torturous trying to get him to admit that the Jehovah's Witnesses have made mistakes. Like, the leaders have said things, we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

You know, they even built a, they bought a mansion in San Diego for the Old Testament saints that were going to come back. Okay? Walter Graham, it took like minutes and minutes for him to admit it was like sort of a mistake. Yeah. Got it. So, that's one way I test people, by the way, to see if they're, how deep their integrity is. If they can't admit an error when it's in broad daylight, then you know something's wrong.

Right. Or, I'll give you a political example and hope I don't get in too much trouble. Regardless of whether you're Democrat or Republican, anybody who doesn't know that there's trouble at the border, the southern border, is blind. So, it just amazes me that Democrats don't seem to realize the depth of that problem.

Now listen, to be accurate as a scholar, I've never been to the southern Arizona border or the southern Texas border, but boy, it sure looks like there's a problem. But some people can't see that. Yeah. So, anyway.

Yeah, but just come back to this, though, and just with our limited time here. And there's no question there are blind spots on every political side, cultural side, and when you're presented with evidence, how you respond is a big thing. Like, you might ask me about arguments I've made on a certain point, and I might say, yeah, this one, there's debate over this. These first three points to me are irrefutable, but the fourth point, yeah, there's pushback here and arguments back and forth, but when people can't even see that, when they can't even recognize, hey, you made this point, but there's a weakness here. All right, good point.

Let me research that more. You see the integrity of it, the honesty of it. So, again, got just two minutes for a Jehovah's Witness leader to realize his whole life, everything, his identity was false. Has Jim described what that was like, what type of internal courage that took to come to these right conclusions? Well, he is a man of courage, so it wasn't a matter of fear, but he knew that his life would turn upside down, so he went from being a highly respected elder in the Witnesses known all across the Witness world because he was a scholar. Jehovah's Witnesses don't have many scholars, so he was one of them. So he's well known, he starts to rebel a bit, and he knows the train's coming down the track, and he knows that once he leaves or gets kicked out, that that Jehovah's Witnesses in his hometown in Lethbridge will not talk to him.

He knows that he'll be treated with hate, and so it was hard on him, but he thankfully had his inner integrity, and in his case, thankfully, his mother, his father had died earlier, his mother stuck with them, his children stuck with them, his wife stuck with them, so he had a family unit to keep hold of them. The other thing that happened is after he left, he became part of the leadership of a worldwide movement warning about the Witnesses. He teamed up with a man named Ray Franz. Ray was the nephew of the top guy in Jehovah's Witnesses, and he got appointed to the governing body, and then he realized that the leadership was corrupt, and he wrote about it. He wrote a really beautiful memoir called Crisis of Conscience.

It's one of the most powerful books I've ever read. Anyway, Ray and Jim stuck together with others. That helped, but in all their cases, their worlds were turned completely upside down. But in Ray's case and Jim's case, they both believed that they were following what Jesus would want, and that kept them. Right, so for everybody listening, there is a price to pay for following the truth, and sometimes it's intense.

Certain parts of the world, if you come out of certain faiths or cults, it could cost you your life, but we can do no other to follow the truth. To stay in touch with Professor Beverly, to get his newsletter, it's free, go to email him at jamesbeverly, B-E-V-E-R-L-E-Y, at simpatico, S-Y-M-P-A-T-I-C-O dot C-A. Hey, we are out of time, but you are not out of stories and information, so we will do this again soon. God willing, blessings to you Jim, we got a lot. Yeah, thanks Mike. Bye-bye. Another program powered by the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-07 20:40:24 / 2022-12-07 20:57:54 / 18

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