A few years ago, I listened patiently as one of my pastors shared about how to dispel false teachers, in particular, the Jehovah’s Witnesses from our homes. He said that the Jehovah’s Witnesses had a strong weakness: they don’t want to pray in homes. He told us to just ask them to pray and they will give excuses and leave us alone. It seemed for most people this strategy worked, but am not so sure. However, there were some women from the JW sect who frequented our home back then; they had no problems with praying during or after their bible studies with you. So to me, the strategy didn’t work.
When I moved to a new location, I lost contact with the “pioneers” as they were called, who used to come and try to convince me that their sect is God’s kingdom. Because I had had some theological training as a teenager, I had managed to refute most of their erratic views. However, time and again, I used to ponder on the arguments and questions raised in the discussions. I later discovered that the JW folks were the most ignorant when it comes to their knowledge of the Scriptures. They had knowledge of what their sect teaches instead of what the Bible teaches. You see, there is a vast difference between denominational dogma and biblical doctrine. I had also observed that without the aid of their literature, they were vulnerable, they could not make intelligent discussions without referring you to the concepts in their body of literature. On the other hand, my friends used to call me the moving Bible because I had memorized several Bible books and chapters and could quote them freely from memory. This exercise of Scripture memorization proved to be effective to me in later years.
Most people often look down on religious training and the value of religious degrees. Well, I don’t know why, but each has a different opinion. But in most cases, it is a kind of inferiority complex that arises from one’s deficiency of religious education. Many church folks are bereft of sound doctrine because they were lured to believe that everything theological is flawed with human weaknesses and error. Well, I don’t understand how they define theological. I often hear people say, “We don’t want theologians. We want men of God who gives us spiritual food from the presence of the Lord.” Theology usually has a bad taste among the spiritually ignorant and they view it as the devil’s tool for religious arguments. But, I have to admit that this kind of thinking is not without some justification. We grew up in spiritual environments were our churches and leaders had a negative disposition towards theological learning because of the number of liberal professors and theological schools.
In most cases, those who felt the call of God on their lives tried to prepare for ministry but made a wrong choice in attending spiritual abortion centers in the name of “theological schools.” Theological schools are not bad per se, however, one has to exercise discretion and seek guidance as to the choice of school one wants to attend. If your theological education takes you away from “our common faith” and the Christ of the Scriptures, then it is bad theology. Sound theology leads one to a healthy relationship with God through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Sound theology affirms the historical reliability of the Bible, its inspiration, inerrancy, and authority. The professors should be God-fearers, saved and have made a commitment to say “no to ungodliness” and should seek to promote a Christian culture and environment that is in harmony with God’s principles. Today, the greatest problem in theological schools is compromise, so be careful which theological school you choose to study with.
As for me, I am a champion for theological education. I am one of its strongest supporters and its voice. Let me share with you a few incidents where my theological training paid dividends. In 2006 during one of cold nights, I became sleepless and I heard people who were singing and praying. I realized it was an all-night prayer. So I asked my three friends, Richman, Simbi and Lloyd to accompany me to the all-night prayer and they agreed. When we got at the house where the people were praying, we knocked the gate and they opened the gate for us and invited us for prayers. We started praying and singing with them. Unfortunately, what we did not expect started happening. The young prophet started prophesying, uttering spiritual garbage to the unsuspecting folks. He seemed to be so spiritual and claimed that God’s power was there that night. But, what we felt and saw was sheer fanaticism and religiously misguided zeal.
The young prophet called for an “altar call” and invited those who wanted to accept Christ as their Savior as a result of his prophecies. As is expected, usually the first time attendees are the suspects, and with the kind of dressing we had, we were thought of some drunkards coming from the pub since the house was along the street that leads directly to the beer halls. Then the young prophet started “speaking in strange tongues” and implicated us as sinners who needed to be saved that night and that we were hindering the move of the Spirit by our sins. He claimed that when he spoke in tongues, God gave him a revelation that we were drunkards and involved in all kinds of sins including being addicted to drugs. He also spoke of some demons that were using us and harassing us. Sadly, none of my friends and myself agreed to his prophecy. We told him that he was lost and he was fake. To that, he became indignant saying that God had been wonderfully moving before our arrival and claimed that were Satanists who had just emerged in the middle of the night and led the congregation to curse us and sing songs meant for our destruction. We waited until the whole drama came to an end.
The young prophet and his team of prophets asked for our contact details and promised to come around 10 am that morning to deliver us from the clutches of Satan. So we waited for them. When we went home, we laughed at this guy and his amazing church and “wonderful gift” of prophecy. True to their promise, they came at the set time. My young brother Tawanda, called out from the other room, “Pastor Ernie, you have some visitors here to see you.” I told him to bring them inside our room. When they got in, the first thing that amazed them was my personal library that had over a thousand books. They just read the titles and said, “Ahhhh! We didn’t know that you are a pastor!” I explained to them that being a pastor wasn’t what matters and my library shouldn’t scare them.
I called my other friends and we introduced ourselves as Christian brothers who had accepted Christ many years before these 6 months babies in Christ had. We asked them how they had gotten into this prophesying frenzy and they admitted they had received the gifts when they fasted I the mountains. But a sense of uneasiness overcame them. We told them we were ready to be delivered, and they said, no, it was a wrong judgment and a wrong call. The lead Prophet clearly said that the library itself had scared him and hence, he was afraid to speak further on this issue. They apologized and left. My theological education paid dividends. It taught me to have a theological library and it helped repel false teachers. They were scared of the library and they did not know what kind of information I had. They didn’t want to look like trapped zombies in broad daylight. I never heard of them or met them again since.
Another incident happened again when I was coming from seeing my friend Tindo in Glenview 3, going to my place in Glenview 8. I was carrying my Hebrew and Greek Bibles and Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. I was stopped by two gentlemen from the JW sect. They said, “Brother, can we see your books and then we can share our books with you concerning the kingdom of God.” I willingly obliged. They asked, “Are you studying theology?” “No,” I responded. “Are you learning Hebrew and Greek?” “No, I teach Hebrew and Greek,” I said. “We also have our Greek and Hebrew scholars and they are just 2 in Zimbabwe and we hope to connect you with them if you want to learn more,” they responded as they drew from one of their small bags a copy of their Awake Magazine. He opened at an article that was titled, “What is God’s Name?” There was a photo of a Hebrew Manuscript that had a Hebrew word circled in red. These sincere gentlemen told me that that was God’s name. I asked them how they knew it was God’s name when they did not know how to read Hebrew? They told me that their magazine does not lie. I just said it was okay and I had to go.
They asked me for my home address and I gave them. They said they wanted to come and have some Bible discussions. I told them that if they wanted to come and discuss the Bible, they had to first answer these five questions for me:
1. Who is Jesus Christ?
2. Who translated the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures?
3. Who is the Holy Spirit?
4. Why do they call themselves Jehovah’s Witnesses instead of Christ’s Witnesses?
5. Can you make reasonable discussions without the use of your church literature?
They gave their responses and argued that Jesus is the Son of God. When I pressed them further saying that’s too general, they made their claims that He is the angel Michael blah blah blah and I said, “Guys, we have no common ground. I can’t have discussions with you unless if you want me to preach to you about Christ Jesus, the God-Man who has Michael as one of his archangels.” I further told them that the book of Hebrews tells us that God has commanded His angels to worship Christ including the archangel Michael. They took their book again and opened a paragraph that says the Greek word used for worship in Hebrews means to bow down and does not mean worship in the sense I referred to. I gave them my Greek New Testament and said, please show me and explain. They stood dumbfounded and said, “It has been a mistake stopping you.” And they went away. Again, my knowledge of Hebrew and Greek saved me from the false teachers. Otherwise, I would have entered into endless debates with them.
At another time, I met the JW on my way from shops. They said they wanted to share the word of God with me. I told them I had to drop the items that I was carrying first because people at home wanted to make lunch. I invited them to my place and they agreed to come. When I got home, I left the food items in the kitchen, told them to give me three minutes because I wanted to drop some money to my next-door neighbor. On my dining wall hung my academic degrees in frames. Just on the left of my dining, a wide open door showed a whole room full of theological books in shelves, my computer desk and other degrees and diplomas hung on the walls. The three minutes I left them, they had already ready the papers on the wall and had concluded, “We cannot win here.” Upon my return, they excused themselves, “We are sorry Mr. Musekiwa. We have realized we have other appointments, so we may no longer have time to discuss the Bible with you. We will try to find others to come to you and discuss with you.” I figured my academic degrees had scared them, so they found a quick excuse. Excused, they left.
After about 3 hours, one of them came back. He has now become my friend. He explained to me how they had read the academic degrees on my wall and had literally felt terrified to open their church books and begin to discuss Bible topics with me. They knew the weaknesses of their doctrines and were afraid to confront someone who has knowledge of the Bible, theology, and apologetics. He told me that he was a junior, and the senior had become afraid, which had intrigued his curiosity and sought to become a Nicodemus. He said that he wanted to learn from me what his other teammates were afraid to discuss. He became my secret disciple and today, he is the first to acknowledge that the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not align with the Scriptures but with the religious philosophy of Charles T. Rusell and Rutherford.
As I look back, my academic training has saved me many times, literally rescuing me from false teachers. I often wonder what would have happened had I not learned theology or the Bible and understood it the way I now do. These false teachers would have led me astray by their hollow and shallow philosophies. Since then, I have taken off my academic degrees from the walls because they scare the false teachers and unintelligent debaters. I used to hand my academic degrees to show my academic progress not necessarily to scare people away, but many felt offended and scurried for cover. Today, all my academic degrees stay in my file folders, no longer on the walls. I love to listen to people speak, preach, teach or make debates. It helps me learn. However, I have learned that without knowledge, false teachers can lead you astray and you can be taken into the captivity of religious ignorance of fanaticism.
As a challenge, how much of the word of God do you know as a believer? Can you stand and intelligently articulate the faith or defend “our common faith” or “earnestly contend for the faith?” The world today needs Christians who know what they believe and why. If you do not set your heart to study Go9d’s Word, take heed lest any type of doctrinal winds sweeps you away. There is no substitute for learning God’s Word. Ignorance is not an asset. Don’t perish for lack of knowledge. Instead, buy the truth and sell it not.