SHORT CHRISTIAN READINGS SELECTED FOR FORMER JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
By Kay L. Meyer
Jehovah's Witnesses were in my neighborhood today. I saw a large group of them visiting homes on my street as I came home from running some morning errands. They were probably telling people that [Jehovah's] Witnesses don't like Christmas. Did you know they don't celebrate the birth of Christ?
Knowing they were headed my way, I started praying for my visit with them, and made sure my Bible with large print was available. I watched patiently as they drifted in pairs down the street and gathered in a group across the street from my home. While what appeared to be one of the Elders of the group was talking, I noticed several of them glance at my home.
"Oh no" -- I thought to myself, "they're going to skip my home again" -- just as they have done since 1981.
"Why do they skip my home?" you may ask. It's quite simple ... because their organization has marked my home as a place they should not visit. They know that I know what they believe and teach, and that I will strive to witness to them when they come to my door. They know that I am equipped to answer any question they may throw at me, and am prepared to point out the errors of their cultic beliefs. That's why.
Why did I think they would come this time? I had some hope because over the past year three Jehovah's Witnesses have stopped at my home to visit with me. I guess they had forgotten to check their marked homes list. When [Jehovah's] Witnesses come to our home, I strive to ask questions that make them think and often bring up some of their false prophecies. They don't like talking about predictions their organization have made that didn't come true. It upsets them.
I am the author of "Mission Field on Our Doorstep: Jehovah's Witnesses", and have witnessed to hundreds of active Jehovah's Witnesses over the years, and met many who have left this organization because they came to know Christ or learned about the false prophecies. Through the Family Shield Counter-Cult Ministry (which grew out of my work in evangelism at Ascension Lutheran Church in St. Louis) we have assisted and equipped thousands of family members and friends of Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons to cope and witness to their family members and close friends.
I continued to pray as several stood looking at my home and talking to each other. I prayed, "Lord, bring someone who is questioning the teaching of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to my door. In Jesus name. Amen."
I know those who have questions or doubts won't reveal them to me. If active Jehovah's Witnesses reveal their doubts about the organization to elders or other active JW's they will be disfellowshipped. This means active Jehovah's Witnesses will not be allowed to talk to them. So they normally will keep their questions to themselves.
I remember doing a presentation at a conference organized by Personal Freedom Outreach in St. Louis a few years ago. My topic was "Responding and Witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses." After my presentation I met two Jehovah's Witnesses who had attended my presentation. They explained that they were getting ready to leave the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and had come to the conference to learn more about Christianity before they resigned. They told me that their teenage daughters -- their own children -- had turned them in to the JW's Elders for reading counter-cult literature. Can you believe it?
Some years ago, I interviewed an ex-Jehovah's Witness whose wife turned him in to the Elders because he was questioning the JW's teachings against blood transfusions. He told me that when he took his Bible and tried to show his wife verses about why he had questions regarding their teachings, she put her hands over her ears and ran out of the room. Eventually the Elders told her to divorce him. She did!
It's a fact -- cults divide families! Especially during the holidays. Jehovah's Witnesses will probably continue to skip my home, but may not skip yours. Will you pray for the next [Jehovah's] Witness that comes to your door? Pray that they will come to know the true Christ of the Bible. Family Shield Ministries offers complimentary tracts to help equip Christians to witness to Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. ... Kay L. Meyer is the founder and president of Family Shield Ministries and the host of Family Shield, a radio program heard on 50 stations in 25 states. Kay is also the author of numerous books and hundreds of other publications. ... -- St. Louis MetroVoice, September 2012.
A Divine Appointment with a Jehovah's Witness
The Great Commission
Some years ago, I left home at 6:15 a.m. to drive to Rolla, Missouri where I was presenting a five-hour workshop on "Witnessing -- A Lifestyle". Although only a two-hour drive, I had given myself an extra 45 minutes in case I got lost. Little did I know that God had a divine appointment scheduled for me.
About half way there, I pulled into a rest stop. As I walked toward it, I saw a man and a women standing outside. They had literature in their hands, and I recognized it as material produced by The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. They were Jehovah's Witnesses.
I went inside the rest stop and prayed. I thought, "I'm early and have at least 30 minutes to visit with one of them." So, I decided that whichever one approached me; this was the one I should witness to.
As I suspected, it was the [Jehovah's Witness] woman with whom I opened up a conversation. As I walked up to her she handed me some literature and said, "Would you like some literature to read as you travel?"
I introduced myself, and then said, "My name is Kay Meyer. Do you recognize my name?" She said "no". I continued, "I have written a book entitled "Mission Field on Our Doorstep: Jehovah's Witnesses". I happen to have a copy of it in my car and would like to give you a complimentary copy, if you would accept it. Would you?"
During the next 15-20 minutes, my goal was to share the law and Gospel with her, but toward the end of our discussion, I also wanted to talk briefly about the false prophecies of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. In my experience with many ex-Witnesses, most [Jehovah's] Witnesses don't really get serious about researching the organization until they learn about the many false predictions the organization had made over the years.
I explained that I was traveling to Rolla to do a workshop on witnessing, but I was early. I wanted to spend a few minutes talking with her about my faith in Christ.
She asked, "What religion are you?" Training note for Christians: Jehovah's Witnesses strive to divide the Body of Christ. My advice for Christians that want to witness to JWs is not to tell a JW that you are Baptist, Methodist, or Catholic. Tell them you are a Christian, but practice your faith by attending the Baptist or Lutheran Church. That is your "denomination", not your "religion".
I responded, "I am a Christian. The denomination that I attend is Lutheran. But, my religion is Christianity." She responded, "I'm a Christian, too."
I was very upfront with her, but kind and caring as I spoke with her. I explained to her that I didn't believe Jehovah's Witnesses were Christians. I gave her a few reasons why I didn't think JW were Christians. I said, "You do not believe Jesus is true God. You do not believe Christians can pray to Jesus. You do not believe we are saved through faith alone. These are just a few of the reasons why I do not believe you are a Christian. She agreed that JW's do not believe Jesus is true God, and they do not believe they can pray to Jesus.
She also confirmed that [Jehovah's Witnesses] don't believe we were saved by faith alone. According to her, you have to prove your faith through work and actions. This is why she was there handing out literature. She said, "But, I believe in Jesus and that he is the Messiah."
I decided not to use the word "cult", but instead said, "Jehovah's Witnesses believe in a false Christ and a false Gospel. This concerns me greatly. I'm concerned for you."
I continued, "Jesus is both true God and true man. He has a dual nature." Then I quoted several Bible verses about his "deity" including John 1:1.
She responded, "I never heard that Jesus had a dual nature." She explained to me that before becoming a Jehovah's Witness she had been Baptist. But, she now felt that she had found the truth in this organization. And she firmly believed that the organization was God's organization.
Regarding prayer to Jesus I quoted Acts 7:59-60, that says Stephen, as he was being stoned to death, looked up to heaven and prayed, "Lord, Jesus, receive my spirit." After reading this I shared, "See, Stephen was praying to Jesus!"
I also quoted Eph. 2:8, 9, regarding how we obtain eternal life as a free gift. It says, "Eternal life is a free gift, not a result of our good works."
We also briefly talked about our different beliefs about heaven. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that 144,000 people are going to the Heavenly Kingdom, and the rest (most who live today) will be on what they call Paradise Earth. She said, "I'm looking forward to living on Paradise Earth." I said, "I'm looking forward to being in heaven with Jesus, my Savior and Lord. He suffered and died for my sins. Do you know that Revelation has a description of heaven? Why don't you read it?"
Again referring to the Acts 7:59-60 verse above I said, "Not only did Stephen pray to Jesus, but according to this verse he also believed his spirit would go immediately to be with the Lord in heaven. So, Stephen did not believe there was a Paradise Earth."
Time was flying, and I knew I needed to close the conversation, even though I would have loved to have more time to visit with her. As I transitioned to leave, I said, "I'm trusting in Jesus -- not an organization for my salvation."
I was ready to talk briefly about the false prophecies of the Watchtower Society. I said, "Over the years the Watchtower Society has called themselves God's prophet on earth today and have predicted many things that never came to pass. I spoke to her about the prediction of the end of the world in 1975. She was aware of this prediction and said, "But they just made a mistake."
I quoted Deut. 18:21-22, and what it says about how we can discern a true prophet of God from a false one. I explained, "A true prophet of God cannot make a mistake -- not even one. If he does, and has called himself God's prophet, then he is a false prophet. The Bible says, "do not follow him".
At one point toward the end of the conversation, I said, "I believe I'm right, and you believe you're right. Would you agree that we can't both be right?" She agreed. I encouraged her to read the Bible without the Watchtower Society publications, and told her I would pray for her, and would be asking others to pray for her.
I asked her if she would allow me to pray with her right then but she said "no". Then I asked if she would give me her first name so I could pray for her. She said "no". I asked again if she would allow me to give her a copy of my book, and again she said, "no". Then I said, "Well, I don't need to know your name to pray for you. Just know that I will be praying for you to come to know the Jesus of the Bible -- He who is true God and true man."
Remember that God may have a divine appointment for you someday soon too. Be prepared -- care -- and share God's Word and love with those you meet! If I can assist you and members of your congregation in anyway in learning to witness, please let me know. -- St. Louis Metro Voice.
Witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses
by Natalie Pappas
So, you have finally decided NOW IS the time to learn what to say to the JWs who show up to your front doorstep. Greet the JWs with a friendly smile, because they are usually very nice themselves. I can only say I have met only one unfriendly JW who has come to my door. 99% are going to smile back (after they have recovered from your friendliness that is).
Most JW are met with a scowl and get the door slammed in the face. This encourages them into believing they are being persecuted. The word "persecuted" in the Greek means "to put to flight" to "drive away". Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, was driven away and "put to flight" by getting stoned, and whipped, and beaten, and thrown into prison.
I have heard people say to allow the JWs to present what they wish to say, but I have not found this to work well. Oftentimes, as soon as they have said their message (which usually takes a couple of minutes to present); they are on their way to the next house, having done their duty at yours!
I like to keep a conversation going (and I can usually keep them here an hour or two), and the only way to do this is to break into their presentation by asking them if they mind if you ask *them* a question. By your asking the questions in a logical manner, you *can* control the conversation and direct it. BUT, if you begin explaining everything, then you will lose them completely because the minute they stop talking, they stop thinking.
In other words, if you present the Bible verses to them, they will not hear them. They are not capable of hearing them. They do not have the Holy Spirit living inside them to bring that understanding. BUT, if they read the verses, then the Holy Spirit *will* bring conviction (as John chapter 14 teaches).
So, break into their prepared speech and say, "May I ask you a question, please?" or "With your permission, may I ask a quick question?" They will of course say, "Yes, of course" or words to that effect. You have very quickly put an end to their sermonizing and now a REAL conversation can take place -- one where you ask questions and they answer. It *is* a give and take.
Then ask, "May I ask you what gospel it is you are preaching this morning?" This will stop them for a moment. I do not think any JW who has come to my door has heard that question before. While they are thinking about that, ask another quick question. Say, "The reason I ask is because the Bible says that there is only one gospel. Did you know that?" Before they can answer (and because YOU are asking questions, they have no choice BUT to be thinking -- it is only when YOU start explaining that they turn you off -- so do not explain anything. Let them come to their own conclusions by asking them questions. That is, after all, how Jesus did it.), ask again, "Do you have your Bible with you?" You have just fired off four very important questions:
1. May I ask a quick question?
2. What gospel are you preaching?
3. Do you know there is only one gospel?
4. Do you have your Bible with you?
Practice in front of a mirror until you feel comfortable and are not nervous. I usually get a little jittery at first because I am always busy doing something else when they come knocking. I am usually praying silently during the first 30 seconds or so until I can break in and ask my first question. Then things just seem to flow after that.
Now, the New World Translation has been mistranslated in many places, but the places we will talk about are areas that are awkwardly translated, but are not necessarily heretical and will do just fine. Ask your new JW friend when he/she says that they do have their Bible with them, "Will you turn to Galatians chapter one and read the first 10 verses out loud?" At this point, the one who was talking will probably look up the verses and read them out loud, but now the second one will assert himself after he finishes reading and take charge of answering the questions. The quicker the second one takes over the conversation, the newer the recruit standing beside him. That should be a big clue for you to direct your conversation to the newer recruit because when you are preaching the gospel, or rather, leading him/her through it, you may not see instant results from the one you are speaking with, but chances are you will see understanding and/or recognition in the new recruit's eyes. The less indoctrinated they are, the less blinded they are by Satan's lies. The reason the new recruit does the talking initially is so that they can practice telling others about their new belief system. The more he/she practices, the quicker he/she can absorb more of the JW teachings, and advance in the Organization.
But the more mature JW always takes over the conversation if it looks to be going in a different direction than they had planned. So, now the new recruit has read Galatians chapter one, verses 1-10, which has just stated VERY clearly that one is going to be ETERNALLY condemned if they believe a DIFFERENT Gospel.
Now, at this point it might become very tempting into going into the Biblical teaching of hell (which they do not believe exists). But resist the temptation. There are a lot of places that teach about hell being an actual place, but THIS IS NOT IT. This only teaches condemnation. The Greek word for condemnation means, "a thing devoted to destruction". Those who preach a different gospel are DEVOTED to destruction--ETERNALLY. Now, ask another question. Ask: Do you know where the Bible defines the gospel? Chances are you will get a blank look. I always do. At this point, they might pull out a small brown covered book. This is the "Reasoning" book. But, unfortunately, they have not addressed this topic in that little brown book, OR any other. (I know because I have them all!) :)
Not finding any answers, they will say, "The gospel is that the kingdom of God is near". Or you may not get an answer at all. In both cases, ask again, "Would you mind turning in your Bible to 1st Corinthians 15 and reading verses 1-11? At this point, you have asked seven excellent questions. You have asked:
1. May I ask a quick question?
2. What gospel are you preaching?
3. Do you know there is only one gospel?
4. Do you have your Bible with you?
5. Will you turn to Galatians chapter one and read the first 10 verses out loud?
6. Do you know where the Bible defines the gospel?
7. Would you mind turning in your Bible to 1st Corinthians 15 and reading verses 1-11?
Now, it is very important that you direct your questions to the newer JW recruit, because, it has been my experience that the more mature JW will outright LIE to you in the next few questions. It is in your best interest to go to a second hand bookstore and look for the following book, which you can purchase for only a couple of dollars, "You too can live forever in Paradise on Earth". It is not advisable to pull this book out and prove what you are about to tell the JW -- but it is important that you look at this for yourself so that if you are lied to, that you can stand your ground and say, "Oh yes it certainly DOES teach that!".
First Corinthians 15:3, 4 states that Jesus died for OUR sins (plural), died, and rose again on the third day. However, in the red book, "You can life forever in Paradise on Earth" it teaches that Jesus didn't die for OUR sins, but that he only paid for Adam's sin of eating the forbidden fruit. So basically, what is taught is that BECAUSE JWs believe Jesus died for ADAM'S sin, that NOW those who are GOOD-HEARTED (all loyal JWs and those who have not outright rejected the Organization) will get a SECOND chance to PROVE THEMSELVES *worthy* of eternal life in the 1000 year reign of Christ on a perfected earth. This is in contrary to what the Bible teaches at John 3:16, that those who believe HAVE everlasting life, and 1st John 5:13, that one can KNOW they HAVE eternal life. But in the "Life Forever" book, page 61, paragraph 12, it says, "Yet, to make is POSSIBLE for us to gain everlasting life UNDER the RULE OF GOD's Kingdom, Jesus had to pour out his lifeblood in death." and on page 68, paragraph 28 it says, "To prove worthy of protection during this coming destruction, we must exercise faith in Jesus Christ. (John 3:36) We must become his disciples and submit to him as our heavenly King. Will you do that?"
The JWs do not believe that God's Kingdom has arrived yet. They might have even told you this earlier when you asked them what the Gospel was. They believe that at any second Armageddon will happen and all those who are loyal to the Organization and all those who are good-hearted who have NOT rejected the Organization, will live through it -- everyone else will die. Those who were good-hearted and loyal to the Organization will be resurrected and ONLY now can they REALLY prove themselves worthy of everlasting life. Where Adam failed, THEY will succeed (or die trying)! If you understand their teachings on the END times, then you can be in a position to know which questions to ask them.
Now, I personally would not go into depth with them on this, because then YOU are talking and they are not listening. But if you go through those pages in the Live Forever book, it should be clear to YOU that their teaching on Jesus' death for our sins is warped and DOES not measure up to 1st Corinthians 15:3,4 and you will be able to stand firm.
The second part of the gospel is that Jesus' body died. JWs do actually believe that Jesus' body died. The funny part is that they do not believe anybody has a "soul" that leaves the body at death. So when Jesus' body died, they believe his "soul" ceased to exist as well. So they ADD meaning to the Bible text that are not there. It does not state that Jesus' soul died. The context is speaking of a physical body. Jesus' physically hung on the cross (or as they prefer to call it, a "torture stake").
Ask your new JW friend, "Do you believe Jesus died for every one of your sins? That you are completely forgiven?" Chances are they will say, "Yes". Ask them: "Do you believe that you are only getting a chance for eternal life? Or do you know for sure you are saved?" They will admit to you that they do not know if they are saved or not--that only "Jehovah" knows this. Ask them, "Would you mind turning in your Bible and reading 1st John 5:13 out loud?" They will now read that the Bible teaches them that they can KNOW they have eternal life. At this point, you have asked 9 excellent questions.You have asked:
1. May I ask a quick question.
2. What gospel are you preaching?
3. Do you know there is only 1 gospel?
4. Do you have your Bible with you?
5. Will you turn to Galatians, Chapter One and read the first 10 verses out loud?
6. Do you know where the Bible defines the gospel?
7. Would you mind turning in your Bible to 1st Corinthians 15 and reading verses 1-11?
8. Do you believe that you are only getting a chance for eternal life? Or do you know for sure you are saved?
9. Would you mind turning in your Bible and reading 1st John 5:13 out loud?
And so far, you have only asked questions. You do NOT have to explain WHAT they believe. They KNOW what they believe. They are STILL the ones doing all of the talking, and they have to digest what they have been reading in their Bible. Little by little, all the strongholds they have had built up by the Organization are being torn down, piece by piece.
I would not get into a conversation regarding Soul Sleep at this time. Every person intimately knows within himself or herself that he or she will live with Christ forever or without Him forever. Now, jump to the third part of the gospel:
Question 10: Do you believe Jesus was resurrected?This is going to pound the nail into the coffin because it is going to be apparent to even them that they are not preaching the correct gospel the Bible preaches. Not only do they not believe verses 3 and 4 of 1st Corinthians, but they would never admit that to people as they go door to door. Instead, they tell people about the "new revelation" that "Jesus returned invisibly and is now ruling from heaven invisibly".
THAT is the gospel they preach. At least the Judiazers in the book of Galatians believed the gospel, even if they added onto the gospel with their works. The JWs do not even believe the gospel: they do not believe Jesus died for all their sins, they do not believe Jesus was resurrected either. They believe that Jesus' body AND soul died and that only his soul was raised back to life (invisibly of course) and that he manifested a make-believe body so that he could deceive his disciples (and others) into believing that he was really alive again. When JWs say that they DO believe Jesus was resurrected, I ask:
Question 11: Do you REALLY believe Jesus' body came back to life? This they will readily admit to not believing. They will say that Jesus only came back to life in a "spiritual" body. The problem with this view is that the word "spiritual body" is not in even ONE of the verses that describe Jesus' resurrection. The word "resurrection" means "to stand up again". Verses 3 & 4 say that Jesus died for our sins; the context was his physical body. Verses 3 & 4 say that Jesus was buried. The context was his physical body. Verses 3 and 4 say that Jesus was resurrected. The context did not change anywhere -- the context was STILL his physical body. (Can a spiritual body hang on a cross? Be buried in a tomb? Resurrect?)
Ask the JWs at your door: "Can a "spiritual body" hang on a cross? Pay for our sins? Be buried in a tomb?" Here is a list of the questions so far:1. May I ask a quick question 2. What gospel are you preaching? 3. Do you know there is only one gospel? 4. Do you have your Bible with you? 5. Will you turn to Galatians chapter one and read the first 10 verses out loud?" 6. Do you know where the Bible defines the gospel? 7. Would you mind turning in your Bible to 1st Corinthians 15 and reading verses 1-11? 8. Do you believe that you are only getting a chance for eternal life? Or do you know for sure you are saved? 9. Would you mind turning in your Bible and reading 1st John 5:13 out loud? 10. Do you believe Jesus was resurrected? 11. Can a "spiritual body" hang on a cross? Pay for our sins? Be buried in a tomb?
Next, ask Question 12: Is there anything in the context of these verses that would change the context from a bodily death to a spiritual death? A bodily burial to a spiritual burial? A bodily resurrection to a spiritual resurrection? When they say no (and they do not DARE say yes to that--if so, ask them "Where?" And if they appeal to other verses, you say, "but those aren't the verses we were discussing".)
Then ask: Question 13: Did you know that Jesus himself prophesized that his resurrection would be bodily?
Question 14: When they look at you in amazement, ask them to please read John chapter 2:13-25. This may be a good time to mention (as they are looking this up) how much you enjoy reading your Bible, how you can never read ENOUGH of the Bible, how much you appreciate their love of the Bible, to stand there with you and make sure of ALL things, and that you very much ADMIRE them for reading through the entire context, even if it is MANY, MANY verses. Look over their shoulder and read along as they are reading. This will also give you an idea of how awkward their New World Translation really is: it is horribly rendered! BUT only one member of their translating committee had any training in the Koine Greek language, and only 2 years at that. It is hardly enough training to translate the Bible, but the passages that were mistranslated could easily be translated by any FIRST year Greek student. That gives an excellent indication that it was most likely a deliberate attempt to deceive others into believing a lie. Why? I think it is a money issue, myself. The WTB&TS owns some of the most expensive property in New York City and LOTS of it. Now that they have read the disciples saying that by the temple being destroyed and rebuilt that Jesus meant his BODY--now ask them to please turn to John chapter 20, because the Apostle Thomas had an extremely hard time believing in the resurrection. He refused to believe until he had himself SEEN the nail marks in Jesus' hands, and the wound in His side. (Verses 24-29)
Now, ask Question 15: Would you please read John chapter 20 and read verses 24-29?
Question 16: Was Jesus saying, "Here, Thomas, reach your finger and see my FAKE hands, my FAKE side?"
Question 17: Is it in Jesus' character to be deceptive?
Question 18: Can one be a perfect Savior and then turn around and be deceptive? Now the JWs at your door have a great deal to contemplate on the way home but before they go ask them two more questions:
Question 19: Do you go door to door and preach the gospel as it is defined from the Bible?
Question 20: Are you going to change the gospel you preach now when you go door to door?
So, either way they answer, thank them for coming to your door, and ALSO thank them for the opportunity to preach the gospel, and tell them that you ALWAYS enjoy preaching the gospel every chance you get!
Say something like, "I want to thank you for caring enough about my eternal future to come and talk to me about religious things. However, I want to thank you even more for the opportunity to share the Gospel with you and explain from the Bible where the Gospel is defined."
During this time of discussion, if they introduce a new topic, like the Trinity, or Hellfire, or Soul sleep, I have learned to say, "That's very interesting. I would like to talk about that in a little bit after we have covered this question over here first. Okay?" (Smile REAL big)
So, here again are the questions to ask:
1. May I ask a quick question? 2. What gospel are you preaching? 3. Do you know there is only one gospel? 4. Do you have your Bible with you?5. Will you turn to Galatians chapter one and read the first 10 verses out loud?" 6. Do you know where the Bible defines the gospel? 7. Would you mind turning in your Bible to 1st Corinthians 15 and reading verses 1-11? 8. Do you believe that you are only getting a chance for eternal life? Or do you know for sure you are saved? 9. Would you mind turning in your Bible and reading 1st John 5:13 out loud? 10. Do you believe Jesus was resurrected? 11. Can a "spiritual body" hang on a cross? Pay for our sins? Be buried in a tomb? 12. Is there anything in the context of these verses that would change the context from a bodily death to a spiritual death? A bodily burial to a spiritual burial? A bodily resurrection to a spiritual resurrection? 13. Did you know that Jesus himself prophesied that his resurrection would be bodily? 14. Would you please read John chapter 2:13-25? Do you see how Jesus himself define and prophesy that his resurrection body would be physical? 15. Would you please read John chapter 20 and read verses 24-29? 16. Was Jesus saying, "Here, Thomas, reach your finger and see my FAKE hands, my FAKE side?" 17. Is it in Jesus' character to be deceptive? 18. Can one be a perfect Savior and then turn around and be deceptive? 19. Do you go door to door and preach the gospel as it is defined from the Bible? 20. Are you going to change the gospel you preach now when you go door to door?
A Very Different Approach When Witnessing to the Jehovahâ��s Witnesses
By Jay Hess
Witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) seems to be a paradoxical ministry. Since the JWs claim to hold to the authority of God's Word, it would seem sufficient to present logically sound biblical arguments to persuade them to abandon their organization and choose historic, orthodox Christianity. But, as anyone who has tried the direct confrontational approach knows, this rarely accomplishes anything positive. Most tell me all their "scriptural bullets just bounce off".
After the initial encounter, when the JW realizes he is talking to someone who is biblically knowledgeable, no further dialogue is generally even possible. Since the JWs report all their activities, any encounters with open critics of the organization or Watchtower Society theology are recorded, and other JWs are alerted to avoid that home. So anyone employing the direct approach gets only one opportunity.
This carries over in a tragic way to the religiously-divided home. The non-JW spouse, wanting a relationship that is not impacted by the Watchtower Society, may try to present critical information to the JW spouse, only to find the relationship deteriorate â�¦ often to divorce. My marriage is one of the few I know where one spouse is a committed and loyal JW (my wife is a fulltime Watchtower "pioneer" missionary) and the other is an ex-JW evangelical Christian, and weâ��re still together.
As a JW, I encountered countless Christians trying one of two popular witnessing methods. Either they tried to reason with me by using the Bible alone, or they tried to present WATCHTOWER articles showing false prophecies or other embarrassing mistakes. Neither of these approaches had any significant intellectual impact on my belief system or that of my loyal JW friends. Why not?
The answer lies in the mind-set of the loyal JW. Loyal JWs have been conditioned to doubt their own thinking abilities, and of course, the thinking of outsiders, long before they will doubt the teachings of the Watchtower Society directors in Brooklyn. The more loyal they are, the more they trust their directors as being the channel of God and the more they resist all persuasion. Even the most well-intentioned outsider is usually ignorant of this fact, hence the frustrating nature of the usual JW/Christian encounter.
Is there, then, any witnessing method that can be effective with the loyal JW, even in a religiously-divided home? I think there is. First, though, we need to examine how a loyal JW has been conditioned by the Watchtower Society to resist the typical witnessing methods.
The loyal JW receives mind-conditioning mostly through what are internally referred to as the study articles in the Watchtower Society's chief bi-weekly publication: THE WATCHTOWER. These are studied by the whole congregation at their weekly WATCHTOWER-study meeting. Since all JWs are expected to go door-to-door distributing THE WATCHTOWER magazine, they must prepare by reading the key articles, including the study articles. Weeks later, before the actual congregational study of the article is held, they must prepare by reading it, yet again, in detail. Then, during the congregational study, an appointed speaker reads the entire article again, out loud, with the audience answering prepared questions and repeating THE WATCHTOWER's message one more time. All this repetitive study conditions and programs the loyal JW.
Consider these mind-conditioning statements in the following study articles:
The first study article from the January 15, 1983, WATCHTOWER, entitled "Exposing the Devil's Subtle Designs" said on page 22:
"Avoid Independent Thinking
"From the very outset of his rebellion Satan called into question God's way of doing things. He promoted independent thinking. 'You can decide for yourself what is good and bad,' Satan told Eve. 'You don't have to listen to God. He is not really telling you the truth.' (Genesis 3:1-5) To this day, it has been Satan's subtle design to infect God's people with this type of thinking. 2 Timothy 3:1, 13.
"How is such independent thinking manifested? A common way is by questioning the counsel that is provided by God's visible organization."
In the same magazine, the second study article, "Armed for the Fight Against Wicked Spirits," said on page 27:
"Fight Against Independent Thinking
"As we study the Bible we learn that Jehovah has always guided his servants in an organized way. And just as in the first century there was only one true Christian organization, so today Jehovah is using only one organization. (Ephesians 4:4-5; Matthew 24:45-47) Yet there are some who point out that the organization has had to make adjustments before, and so they argue:
"'This shows that we have to make up our own mind on what to believe.' This is independent thinking. Why is it so dangerous? Such thinking is an evidence of pride. And the Bible says: 'Pride is before a crash, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.' (Proverbs 16:18) If we get to thinking that we know better than the organization, we should ask ourselves:
"'Where did we learn Bible truth in the first place? Would we know the way of the truth if it had not been for guidance from the organization? Really, can we get along without the direction of God's organization? 'No, we cannot!'"
Soon after this, the March 1, 1983, issue of THE WATCHTOWER ("What Is Our Position Toward Opposers of the Truth?") commented on page 25 on the need for a religious body to direct the minds of others and whether God's Spirit could direct the minds of individuals apart from the organizational structure:
"Consider some of the other twisted things' used to mislead God's people today. On occasion opposers will question the various teachings that Jehovah's people hold in common. They may also question the need for an organization to direct the minds of God's people. Their view is, God's spirit can direct individuals without some central, organized body of men giving direction."
Consider also how the June 1, 1986, WATCHTOWER, page 21, compares the instinctive programming in animals and what loyal JWs are supposed to do in order to live:
"He is the One bringing forth innumerable varieties of animal life. To exist, each of the countless kinds must live as ordered by Jehovah. By means of instinct, he programs into them his orders for survival. The little blackpoll warbler in Alaska is programmed to migrate for survival. So it is with all the animals. They instinctively follow the orders planted in them by Jehovah their Creator. They have no choice. It is different with people. We are created in the likeness of God, and we do have a choice. However, through his Word the Bible, he gives us his orders for gaining life. If we use our freedom to ignore them and take a road of our own independent choosing, we will die. We must program ourselves for survival."
The loyal JWs who come to your door believe, then, that God is pleased when they program themselves to instinctively follow the Watchtower Society's teachings while, on the other hand, the Devil is pleased if they make up their own mind. They probably adopted this viewpoint before they officially joined the organization through baptism. So, if you attempt to witness to the JWs by presenting lines of reasoning biblically or philosophically different from what they already believe, you are asking them to violate their conscience and reject a fundamental doctrine that initially attracted them to the Watchtower Society.
Given the above, one might assume the best method would be to present loyal JWs with copies of their own literature -- that show either the failed predictions or embarrassing beliefs -- to undermine the authority of the leadership in Brooklyn before proceeding to biblical issues. While this method is closer to the right solution it, too, has its problems. JWs are unaccustomed to receiving WATCHTOWER articles from even their closest JW friends. JWs normally receive their literature only through authorized Watchtower Society channels. For a JW to receive Watchtower Society literature from anyone else, especially an outsider, would seem extremely odd or even outright alarming to him.
JWs believe the only possible motive for an outsider to give them a WATCHTOWER article would be to misuse it. Given the immense amount of trust that the average JW has toward "God's organization" and the immense distrust that has been engendered by the leadership toward outsiders, a JW's natural inclination would be to view any literature you may have as having been tampered with, or taken out of context at the very least. This explains the common experience of so many who tell me, "They won't even look at their own literature when I hand it to them!"
So what method could work with loyal JWs? If they will never consider a contradictory thought or look at their own literature, what alternative method can you employ to help them? The answer is to operate within their agenda (1 Corinthians 9: 19-23) and adopt the attitude of a newspaper interviewer. A newspaper reporter asks probing questions but doesn't try to persuade.
As long as the JWs follow the Watchtower Society's conditioning, you should not attempt to teach them anything. Do not present any of their literature unless they ask you for it first. It can be highly offensive to many JWs. Instead, you as the interviewer should encourage JWs to affirm some of their own doctrines that conflict with the Society's claim of authority. It is much easier for JWs to affirm doctrines they are supposed to believe than it is to persuade them of doctrines they have been taught to refute. If they will not hold to their own doctrines as taught in their own literature and at their own meetings, they certainly will not be persuaded of something different.
Outline of the Method
There are several doctrines fundamental to the JW belief system that, when examined, lead to a serious conflict with the Watchtower Society's claim of authority. Of these, I have chosen four that typically arise on the JWs' agenda as they go door-to-door and that mainstream Christians also believe. These doctrines deal with God's standards of righteousness and what conduct He approves or disapproves of. The stronger the loyal JWs hold to any one of these doctrines, the more it will lead them to doubt the Watchtower Society's authority after examining the evidence you present to them.
In the end, they are faced with the choice of either affirming fundamental doctrines that are repeated at meetings and in their literature or choosing to remain a member by holding to the authority of their directors, thereby denying the fundamental doctrines they claim to cherish. They cannot choose both. If they see the dichotomy, and openly choose to uphold God's standards of righteousness, the church will expel them, even if they heartily wish to remain a member.
Once exposed to this internal conflict, JWs cannot ignore the issue, for these issues are a very important part of the JW agenda. There will be reminders of the contradictions every time they present the JW message at a door or read it in their literature. One fellow researcher called this a "land-mine" just waiting to go off, again and again, within the mind of the individual JW.
The interviewer starts the entire process by asking the JWs, Do you believe God's standards of righteousness change? Then as each of the four doctrines arise on the JWs' agenda, the interviewer again asks for affirmation that God's standards do not change. The JWs will at this point respond in the negative. After the JWs answer the question, the interviewer asks for further assurance by having the JWs comment on two real examples, which I provide, illustrating the violation of each of the four doctrines.
(The first situation I cite is found in the Bible. The second is an actual, twentieth-century event.) After the biblical event is discussed, the JWs are again asked, Do you believe God's standards of righteousness change?
Then the twentieth-century example is carefully introduced. The event is described in general, without details and without identifying the specific persons who violated God's standards. Focus only on the apparent implication that God's standards of righteousness have changed. The JW will become curious and ask to see the documentation. I provide the documents in my packet of witnessing materials: one two-sided document for each of the four issues.
To facilitate the discussions with the JWs and to stay within their agenda, the interviewer agrees to study with them in their book, "Knowledge That Leads To Everlasting Life" (1995). This is a key publication of the Watchtower Society as it is used for discipling all new converts. The interviewer encourages the JWs to specifically explain chapter 5 (entitled "Whose Worship Does God Accept?"). By going over this material, the stage is set to ask them whether God's standards change and whether He accepts the worship of those who seek messages from demons, worship angels, restrict united public worship, or admire the political wild beast of Revelation. But, as you examine these four issues, it is essential that you not focus on the mistakes of men. Focus on the righteousness of God and only ask about issues clearly connected to the Watchtower Society's own question of "Whose worship does God accept?"
At each appropriate paragraph (numbered 13 through 16), ask about the principles regarding God's standards of righteousness and then the two events as mentioned in the following examples. The first question deals with a biblical event. The second question deals with a more modern event, and it should be introduced this way: I read an article that described (Give a summary of the event without specifically identifying the Watchtower Society directors.)
The Four Issues, Each With Two Real Situations:
1) God's standards on seeking messages and guidance from demons paragraph 13).
1 Samuel 28:7-19 (King Saul and the spirit medium.)
Twentieth-century pastor advocated a book allegedly dictated by a demon.
Documentation: July 30, 1924, The Golden Age, p.702; December 3, 1924, The Golden Age, p.150, 151; Angels and Women.
These documents show how Pastor Russell, the founder of the Watchtower Society, discovered a book he believed was dictated by a demon to a spirit-medium. He actually believed that some demons could be trusted to tell the truth, so he encouraged a friend to go into business distributing the book to outsiders through the membership as Christmas gifts. Because Russell died in 1916, his successor Joseph Rutherford started to distribute the book in 1924.
2) God's standards on idolatry and worshiping angels (paragraph 14).
Revelation 19:10 (Apostle John worships an angel.)
Twentieth-century denomination worshiped Michael the archangel the same as they worshiped God. Their charter still references worshiping Michael.
Documentation: April 15, 1995, THE WATCHTOWER, p.18; Theocratic Ministry School Schedule for 1990, p.4 for March 19 and April 16; 1945 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, title page and p.32; Reasoning from the Scriptures (1985, 1989), p.202; September 1 and 15, 1893, Zion's Watch Tower, pp.1580, 1581 in the reprints (pp.280-284 in the original magazine); August 15, 1941, THE WATCHTOWER, p.252; Make Sure Of All Things (1953), p.85.
These documents show that the Watchtower Society advocated worshiping Jesus, also known as Michael the archangel, equally to worshiping God, from 1893 until 1953. The Watchtower Society's charter still says their purpose is, among many other things, to "worship Jesus."
3) God's standards on restricting united public worship (paragraph 15).
Daniel 6:7, 10, 11, 16 (Authorities restrict public prayer for 30 days.)
Twentieth-century religious authorities restricted public prayer for 46 years until 1989.
Documentation: August 15, 1970, THE WATCHTOWER, p.493, paragraph 16; June 15, 1990, THE WATCHTOWER, p.28; October 15, 1979, THE WATCHTOWER, p.20, paragraphs 7 and 8; 1995 Yearbook, pp.212, 213, 232, 233.
These show the Watchtower Society directed all JWs in Mexico to stop all public appearance of being religious including public prayer and songs of praise for 46 years until 1989, yet they claim to be faithful like Daniel who refused to obey the 30-day prohibition against public prayer.
4) God's standards on admiring the political wild beast described in the book of Revelation (paragraph 16).
Revelation 13:3; 17:8 (Admirers of the wild beast and image.)
Twentieth-century religious authorities admired a political organization they later claimed was part of the wild beast's image.
Documentation: August 1, 1967, THE WATCHTOWER, p.454; June 1, 1994, THE WATCHTOWER, p.12, paragraph 17, September 15, 1971, THE WATCHTOWER, p.560, paragraph 8, October 1, 1983, THE WATCHTOWER, pp.15, 16, paragraph 9, February 15, 1919, THE WATCHTOWER, p.51.
These documents show that the Watchtower Society admired the League of Nations, which they now say was part of the image of the wild beast. They later claimed they did not admire the League like other religions, and that the names of any who did admire the League of Nations "are not found written upon 'the scroll of life.'"
For the discussion of each of the eight events, biblical and modern, these three questions are asked:
1) Did God's standards change?
2) Did God approve of the persons mentioned?
3) Did God accept their worship as being part of true worship?
Help Me Understand
As the second question in each category is being discussed, their material can be introduced with the question: I got the impression from it that your church felt God's standards had changed and He now approved of those involved. I tried my best to understand what your church said in the article, but it still seems to say God's standards have changed. Do you think I misunderstood the article? This will likely cause the JWs to be curious about the article and offer to help you understand its meaning. Mention you read about this in a photocopy of what appeared to be their literature. Wait until they ask to see the photocopy before showing it to them.
Your discussion might proceed as follows:
I received this article from somewhere. (Hand them the two sided photocopy.) It appears as if this originally came from your church publications. If you would like, I could check my records to try to find out who actually photocopied this. Would that help?Would you like me to find out who photocopied this so you could contact them to learn more about this story? (They will likely say "No", and not later ask where the copies came from.)
Let them examine the photocopy and then say:
If I ever wanted to become a member in your church would I be required to believe these persons were approved by God? I ask this because I want to be careful not to violate Isaiah 5:20 which warns about saying bad things are good. "Woe to those who are saying that good is bad and bad is good, those who are putting darkness for light and light for darkness, those who are putting bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" (NWT) If I conclude from reading your Knowledge book in chapter 5 that those who did these things could not have been tried and found faithful and, therefore, were not kept in an approved state and did not go to heaven, would my worship be acceptable to God?
Their answer to this will tell you if the JWs you are speaking to are firm for God's unchanging standards of righteousness as described in their own literature. Once the JWs have been made aware of the actions of their leaders, they find themselves upon the horns of a terrible personal dilemma. They know that God's standards do not change, yet, they will want to make an exception for their own leaders.
No exception can be honestly made, and a person of integrity will realize that. They've come to a fork in the road, and they must choose which way to go. They may choose to be loyal to God and thus deny the Watchtower's fundamental doctrine of the "slave who has been faithful and discreet since 1919". This would result in the loss of church membership. The only other choice is to put the standards of men ahead of God so as to keep their membership. Thus, they essentially would be accusing God of changing His standards in order to approve the deeds performed by the Watchtower Society's directors.
Because the conversation dwells only on what God thinks rather than the beliefs of JWs years ago, there is no conflict between the interviewer and the JW. The only conflict is in the mind of the JW as he ponders the consequences of this information. Some JWs will reluctantly respond that God's standards in the four areas do not change, thus implicating their leadership in spiritism, false worship, idolatry, and fear of man. But those wishing to keep their membership will feel pressured to say God nevertheless did approve of the directors, even for entrance into heaven.
These will water down God's standards of righteousness and, in essence, accuse God of saying what was once bad is now good and what was once good is now bad. As sad as this fact may be, anyone who asserts God approves of sin would not be happy in the true Christian community. This is where God's word is the final, unchanging authority and God's righteous standards on spiritism and idolatry do not change. There is no point in continuing to talk with these JWs about other issues. If they will not believe their own literature when it says God rejects all forms of spiritism and idolatry, then there is very little chance they will be convinced of any doctrine not taught in their literature. Wish them a "good day" and invite them to return if they ever decide God never approves of spiritism or idolatry (read Galatians 5:20 and context).