When someone called our podcast last month to ask about the Jehovah’s Witness claim that Jesus died on a pole rather than a cross, Greg wondered why they would care about that point since it doesn’t seem to have any theological implications.
In answer to this question, a listener to the podcast, Janice Davis, wrote in to say she has a theory “formed from much observation” about why they do this. Her idea that it’s a purposeful tactic to watch out for is a truly helpful insight:
JWs are not the only ones who press this point; several heretical distortions of Christianity do so (e.g., The Way International). And this is always one of their opening arguments. The purpose of this challenge, it appears, is to break down your commitment to the traditional Christian facts that you have never questioned. Their goal is to have you questioning, “If I was wrong on that, then what else should I question?” This is an illegitimate tactical approach to make a person more susceptible to distortions of biblical teaching. Cults know that they must be subtle when dealing with Christians; they do not want to show their hand before there is some buy-in on the part of their subject.
I believe recognizing this pattern can help Christians recognize less obvious cults before they get too deep. Hence, when a religious [group] (especially one that claims to be Christian) questions seemingly benign facts about Christianity, and does so intently, beware.
This seems like great advice.