Saturday night the neighborhood JW's came to visit as scheduled. They are a sweet and friendly couple. (Unlike the last JW's who came by years ago, but that is another story.) Because they are so obviously sincere in their desire to serve God, I have always been as kind to them as I know how. So Saturday night I had cookies waiting when they stopped by. (Chocolate chip. Yes, with milk.)
And as much as I was ready to talk to them about who Christ is, I had determined to let them choose which topics we discussed since they had scheduled the visit, and to make sure that they could see that they are actual real human beings to me, not just debate opponents.
They got off to a very slow start. First, they let me know that they expected the world to end very soon, and that the beginning of the end was the year 1914. We went back and forth on the prophecies, especially on the question of immediacy. I was skeptical that 1914 had been such a special year, and while I would not be surprised to see Christ return now I would also not be surprised to see him wait for millenia more to come.
Next they wanted to explain that in hell there is no eternal torment, but that the condemned are eventually annihilated. I don't give annihilationists a hard time on general principles, since that's the most straightforward reading of some (but not all) of the texts dealing with what happens to those who are condemned.
They wanted to set up some Bible studies with me. I figured I owed it to them as human beings to mention that I'm a poor prospect for conversion. (I haven't yet been able to gauge whether they are good prospects for conversion to Christianity.) They said they would still like to schedule some Bible studies, and I said I would be willing to study the Bible with them.
From a debate standpoint the visit was very anticlimactic. The night mostly served to put the conversation on a more human level, leaving us in more productive conversation mode rather than adversarial debate mode..
I expect that everyone's tips and advice will come in handy ... as soon as they are ready to discuss something meatier than whether we are in the final days.