Dealing With JWs

A reader asked me for my personal advice as he was having JW’s come over. I told him to simply read the blog tonight. I don’t believe I’ve got to address this yet and I am trying to keep you readers updated on my progress with the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have come to visit us. To date, I have not seen a Witness come out of the Watchtower as a result of my own ministry, but these that we have visiting are the ones that have given me the most hope.

So what do you do when they come to your door? First off, you need to have your own doctrine down well. Walter Martin once said that the average Jehovah’s Witness can turn the average Christian into a doctrinal pretzel in 90 seconds or less. I have some friends who I once had join me at the Y while I was at the pool. While there, we started talking about Witnesses and I got into some role-playing where I played the role of the Witness to stump them. The lesson showed them that they had a lot to learn.

By the way, I don’t say that to discourage my friends. One of the greatest blessings you’ll have in apologetics is when someone comes along and pounds you into the ground. What it does is it makes you more committed to your study and you go out there more to try to find those answers since you don’t want that to happen again.

Knowing your own doctrine is more than the doctrine of the Trinity. I would that every Christian would read at least one good systematic theology. “But that’s a lot of reading!” Yeah. Go out there and get started then. You need to know not just the doctrine of the Trinity, but how that doctrine relates to any other doctrine. Note that Jehovah’s Witnesses deny a lot more than just the Trinity. They also deny numerous other doctrines, such as the omnipresence of God.

Get an understanding of salvation. Jehovah’s Witnesses like all other groups teach works-salvation. One technique you can use is to get them talking about door to door ministry. Most Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t enjoy it and they’ll be happy to tell you so, but they do it because they believe they need to be out there doing that in order to have a place in the kingdom.

The resurrection is another doctrine that the Jehovah’s Witnesses get wrong as they believe in a spiritual resurrection of Christ rather than a physical one. Be ready to defend this one. If you are going to go toe-to-toe with a Jehovah’s Witness you will need to know your Bible well. They may seem to know it well, but they only know a few select passages.

Also, keep in mind the history of the Watchtower. The Watchtower has been compared to the Matrix. I think at one point, you will have to get them unplugged as otherwise, they will just go to the Watchtower and get an answer to your objection. It’s a bogus answer of course, but to them, it is a real answer.

Be courteous with them also. This is one my roommate is better at than I am as when I enter debate mode, I’m interested in knocking my opponent down often and can forget to remember mercy. We usually open up our meetings with some light conversation and start by offering them drinks if they want any. Before too long, we will be taking them out to lunch at a local restaurant. The Witness must see you as a friend and not an enemy.

Usually they’ll start a lesson with prayer and so should you. When they pray here, I’m usually praying my own prayer. It’s a prayer for wisdom and knowledge that my roommate and I will be able to answer as we ought and that their eyes will be opened to the lies of the Watchtower society.

It’s tempting to try to just demolish the Watchtower at the start, but don’t. My idea is to not play any cards until I have to. They want to teach? Let them be the teacher. You just be sure to ask really good questions. I try to not mention the Watchtower until I have to. If they smell a trap, you will have turned them away.

Remember also to build up orthodoxy and this is the case with Mormons also and I will use them as an example. When Mormons visit us, it is not my goal to destroy Mormonism so much as to build up orthodoxy. If I can show the Bible as it is is the Word of God, I think the BOM falls naturally.  With the Witnesses, I want to build up the beauty of orthodoxy and do so slowly. I have yet to mention the word Trinity, for instance. If they bring up something like God doesn’t change, I point out how much I delight in that while keeping in mind Hebrews 13 saying that Jesus never changes. If you hear them say something that applies to Jesus, comment on it and make sure they agree that applies to Jehovah and save it for the opportune time.

If you have any success stories also, please come back here and share them. I’d love to hear them and it’d be a real encouragement.

That’s all for tonight! Hope this helps!

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One Response to “Dealing With JWs”

  1. Smithers Says:

    I have been fascinated with JWs and Mormons for a long time. One thing that is true, never talk to a JW about Trinitarian theology FIRST. It is important, but the thing that they are going to do is what you said, “Turn you into a pretzel.” They use their own Bible (which is problematic) and have a book called REASONING that gives them answers to “all” (rather the most common) possible objections. I have found that the best thing to talk to them first about is this: Is Jesus an angel? I have written a blog post about this as well. Go here: http://travisthoughts.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/is-jesus-an-angel/

    This is easy for many Christians because we all know that Jesus was not an angel. However, the difficult part is forcing them to stay on this topic until a conclusion is reached. They will posit that Jesus is the archangel Michael, but you disagree. Their answer is YES; your answer is NO. Once you have convinced them, then they’ll be more open to the Trinitarian discussion. But if you are not satisfied with the conclusion, either stop the conversation for another time or stay there in the same conversation.

    SECOND, there are three things about JWs that we need to know. First, while they believe in the Bible, they believe in Watchtower more. Personally, don’t be afraid to use the New World Translation (NWT), except in certain cases (like John 1:1, etc.). Second, ask them, “If I am convinced of JW theology, then I’ll convert, but what will you do, if I convince you that you’re wrong?” Many will ignore the question, but have them both answer the question (esp. the younger or the less confident one). Third and probably most important, speak to the person not talking (actually this is true about Mormons as well). They are the junior JW, so they know less. They tend to be more open to other ideas. Many times they’ll be carrying a Reasoning book (small brown book) with them.

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