Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Jehovah's Witnesses Are Coming ...

The Jehovah's Witnesses are coming ... this next weekend, to be exact. A sweet JW couple has been dropping off pamphlets at my door for some time, and out of respect for their earnestness I've received their pamphlets and most recently a little booklet about what the Bible "really" teaches. They've asked if they can make a visit this next weekend -- presumably to talk me out of the error of my ways. Now, I think I can answer for my beliefs well enough, but I'd like some tips if anyone has personal experience: what is the part of the gospel -- the good news of Christ -- which J.W.'s get most badly wrong? I could google it, but I'm curious if anyone here has personal experience. I plan on evangelizing while they're here ...

11 comments:

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

As I understand it, the JWs do not believe Jesus Christ was both man and God. You will need to do some research on this rather than take my word for it, but that was the subject of the last discussion my husband had with the ones he let in.

Please let us know how it goes!

Anastasia

Josh R said...

My wife had a few extensive disussions with them a few months ago.. The main point of contention is that in their theology Jesua is not God.

Anywhere that Jesus is referred to as God, they will say that it is better translated as 'a god'


They will also deny the existance of a literal hell.

Be prepared to know your stuff on these issues. Bring your own verses to the table so that you don't wind up on their home turf all of the time..

I don't think many people are converted after losing an argument over the meaning of some archaic greek word. Be prepared to share your testimony, and trust God to do the rest.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

It's particularly hard for JWs to convert to anything else, because it's, you know, rather a cult. That means there is heavy emotional manipulation going on. You can find some web pages dealing with this, including testimonials of former JWs.

Anastasia

Rev. C. D. Trouten said...

As a vicar, I engaged the local door knockers in discussion. When the conversation devolved into a debate on the meaning of Greek words, they admitted to not knowing Greek, and invited one of their "scholars" to come a speak with me. The conversations at that level went nowhere.

In retrospect, and now as a Pastor of eleven years, I would approach JW's with questions of sin and atonement. How are they made righteous before God? Do they point to their works, or to the cross? If to the cross, then how can the death of one mere man pay for all sin? Jesus must be God & Man for His blood to be the sufficient payment for all sin. I have no idea how the JW's treat justification. Make it personal! Let them begin to question their own righteousness (which is nothing but filthy rags). Point them to the cross and the righteousness of God, Jesus Christ.

Josh R said...

I was raised Jehovah's witness, and my family left...

When I talk to my dad about Christ, the Rev's question above is always the one he asks about...

"How can the death of one man atone for the whole world's sins"

Be sure to answer that for them.

Janet said...

JW's have an outline that the conversation is supposed to follow it. To have any meaningful conversation, you have to short-circuit it. One way is to impose your own outline: "How about you guys tell me your testimony and then I'll tell you mine?"

Theologically, it is the Trinity that is the crucial difference. Jesus is actually an angel, according to them, and the Holy Spirit a force. So looking at verses about Jesus being the first and the last and then standing them up side by side with verses about Yahweh being the first and the last really flummoxes them. The verse about Ananias and Saphira (sp?) lying to the Holy Spirit is also troublesome to them. I ask them, "Can you lie to gravity? Electricity" They say no. "Then how can you lie to the Holy Spirit, grieve the Holy Spirit if he's only a force?"

When I take the time to discuss with Jehovah's Witnesses, my goal is normally to sow some whopping big seeds of doubt in their mind, especially if they're younger. It is a religion that cultivates argumentativeness, so the challenge is not to be argumentative yourself, or stimulate their own desire to argue. They also value persecution as a form of validation, so it is doubly important to be kind and warm with them.

If you are effective with them, they will go back to their leaders with the questions you have raised and you will get put on a list of demon-possessed people to be avoided... They won't come back with the answers, no matter how enthusiastically they promise they will. I think it's happened to me all of once that I got a repeat visit. You just have to pray that there will be some kind of long-term effect.

-C said...

Well, God bless you for wanting to engage them. I just don't have the stomach for it, I'm afraid.

-C

Drew said...

Don't do it. You will be there for a looooong time and get nowhere. But if you want to try for a neat experiment do as the other comments have suggested. I once told one (I have had several encounters) that I was training for the Presbyterian ministry, and this still had no matter.

My in-laws, who live outside of Pittsburgh, raise up a flag when they see the JW's coming. It keeps them away based on strictures in their purity code about idolatry and allegiances.

Although yo could ask them which part of the law they don't follow If they say they follow all of them start questioning them on things like lights during the sabbath (because of the "no fire" rule Orthodox Jews do not even use lightbulbs on the Sabbath).

Or, aske them which of the 6.7 million JW's in the world are the "real" 144,000 who will inherit the new jerusalem.

You can also go old school and employ the arguments of folks like Athanasius on the divinity of Christ. that usually leaves them frustrated too.

But first try to welcome them into your home for a coffee. After all Jesus would gladly accept the invitation and break bread with you. To refuse the invitation would have been rude.

But Janet's approach is a nice one. Ask them to ask two questions: "How were you saved?" and "What did you do about your salvation to respond to it?"

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codepoke said...

I tried to plant the book of Hebrews in their mind when they visited me. One is senior and the other is junior. I just kept repeating a question to the junior member wondering how they understand the book of Hebrews, since it repeats repeatedly how Jesus is the perfection of the purpose of God. The message intended for confused Jewish Christians of "Jesus is superior to the angels" seems to fit the bill perfectly for JWs, too.

Weekend Fisher said...

I can't tell who's senior and who's junior on this team. It's a husband-wife team. Is it the guy because of the traditional male leadership thing, or is it the lady because she does all the talking? Hmmm ...

Last JW I talked to was a long time ago, and I used Hebrews but badly because they brought out their altered translation and I wasn't quite ready for that, back in the day. I think this time I'm ready to point out that, btw, every time you've got something in [square brackets] it means they're admitting they put something in the translation that just isn't there in the text.

"To what angel did God ever say"

means something quite different than

"To what [other] angel did God ever say."

Bless their hearts, whoever did that translation, I don't see how that could have been anything but deceitful.