Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse
They always manage to knock at the worst possible times—when you’re still in bed on a Saturday morning, when the family has just sat down to Sunday dinner, when you’re in the midst of bathing the baby—and they keep coming back with a persistence matched only by a hungry horsefly on a hot summer day. If you take the time to talk with them, they leave you frustrated and bewildered. They flip through their Bibles with amazing speed, quoting chapter and verse to “prove” that Jesus Christ is just an angel, that he died on an upright stake instead of on the cross, that accepting a blood transfusion is as sinful as adultery, and that the Watchtower Society in Brooklyn, New York, is God’s modern-day “prophet,” his “channel of communication.”
How easy it is to think of Jehovah’s Witnesses as evil incarnate and to drive them from the doorstep with a harsh rebuke! Occasionally, that is just what happens. My wife, Penni, who was raised a JW, once called with a younger trainee at the door of a man who identified himself as a Christian. As soon as he discovered who they were, he ordered them off his property, shouting “Deceivers!” and “Liars!” at the top of his voice and loudly condemning them to hell. (Penni used the episode to instruct her protégé on what church members are really like.)
More often, though, it is apathy rather than anger that greets the Witnesses at the doors. “I’m sorry. I’m not interested” is the response they hear most frequently, the next most common being “I’m sorry. I’m busy,” or, somewhat less often, “I’m sorry. I’m a Methodist [or other denominational designation].” The JW will occasionally reply to the latter by saying, “I’m sorry, too, that you’re a Methodist,” but usually he or she will simply say, “Have a nice day!” and go on to the next house.
Why do they keep calling? For one thing, they believe that you will be destroyed in the imminent Battle of Armageddon unless you “come to Jehovah’s organization for salvation” (The Watchtower, 11/15/81, p. 21). They are trying to save your life. But, even more so, the motivation that truly propels them is the belief that they will not survive Armageddon unless they engage in this door-to-door preaching work under the direction of “God’s organization.”
Most Jehovah’s Witnesses are, in all sincerity, doing their best to serve God. They are like the unbelieving Jews of whom Paul wrote: “ … they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:2–3, kjv).
The vast majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses are victims of victims—blind followers of blind leaders. They need to escape from the salvation-through-works treadmill that makes them obedient servants of a multibillion-dollar religious empire. They need liberation from the oppressive yoke that weighs down on their shoulders; yet they have been led to believe that it is the very carrying of that yoke that will save them—and that anyone who seeks to dissuade them is a deceiver sent by Satan.
If you have already made an attempt, then you realize how difficult it is to talk to Jehovah’s Witnesses. They will try your patience, test your Bible knowledge, and strain your endurance. Keeping track of the point under discussion with them can be as difficult as following the pea in a carnival huckster’s shellgame, as they jump from one verse of Scripture to another. But the effort is worth it, because they need to hear the gospel from you.
Most JWs come from a life history devoid of spirituality. Large numbers had been Roman Catholics who seldom went to church. Some were raised in Protestant churches but never got the message. Many had no religious background at all and were living a life of materialism or sin—or simply felt trapped in a humdrum routine that led nowhere—and then the Witnesses knocked at the door. The invitation to “study the Bible” seemed attractive. God was what they needed in their life. But the Witnesses soon switched the “Bible study” to a Watchtower book study and led their new disciples to an idolized organization, instead of to God.
Who will help Jehovah’s Witnesses hear the real gospel of Christ? Each week they knock at many doors and meet many people, including many Christians. But they seldom encounter anyone who wields “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17) in such a way as to penetrate their mental fortress—that almost impenetrable wall of twisted reasoning that the Watchtower Society has erected in their brains. We Christians send missionaries to the most distant parts of the earth and train them to speak the most difficult languages, in order to reach the lost for Christ. Should we not also make at least some effort to speak effectively to these lost souls who come knocking at our very doors?
But a Christian who attempts to converse with Jehovah’s Witnesses will need help. The JWs spend several hours each week studying and practicing for such encounters. So even a Bible reader who has a thorough knowledge of Scripture may be caught off guard by some of their strange arguments. If this happens, where will you turn for help? It is to this end that the present volume has been prepared.
In it I have set out to examine closely the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ favorite Bible verses—the texts that they use as pretext for teaching Watchtower doctrines. Each verse is considered from several angles. What do the JWs understand the verse to mean? How does it fit into their doctrinal framework? Is the verse mistranslated in their slanted Bible translation? Do they take it out of context? What does it really say? How can you best reason with a Witness on that passage?
Other verses selected for discussion include the ones Jehovah’s Witnesses ignore—the texts that their leaders carefully avoid when conducting followers on a guided tour of the Bible. (Although I was a JW elder for eight years, responsible for teaching my own congregation and frequently serving as guest speaker at others, there were numerous passages in the Bible that I never knew existed—until the blinders were removed from my eyes.) This volume discusses the most significant of those verses and shows how you can use them effectively in sharing the gospel of Christ with a Witness.
For quick reference, the texts appear in the order in which they are found in the Bible itself. But this book will serve you best if you read it first in its entirety before using it during an actual encounter with Jehovah’s Witnesses.