Several weeks ago, Anna DeLeon, a local lawyer and one of my students at Logos Bible College, called and asked if I would meet at her home with 2 Jehovah’s Witness elders and dialogue about our differences. Her family on her mothers’ side is almost entirely made up of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and she left the organization herself at age 14, when the world did not end in 1975 as predicted by the Watchtower. I agreed to come, and suggested bringing Brian Hall, a member of our church who’s in-laws are also JW’s.The format we agreed to use was 10 minutes each, back and forth, for 90 minutes, during which we would reason from the Scriptures and deal with the following two propositions: 1 Jesus Christ is God the Son
2 We are saved by grace aloneI studied for several days, then distilled my main attack points (or”talking points”) down to 30 note cards which I brought, along with my NIV Bible and a copy of their “New World Translation” of the Bible. Each note card dealt with a particular issue (i.e. proofs of Christ’s divinity, assurances of salvation, Watchtower screw-ups, etc.) and enabled me to systematically attack (like a college debate) from different points while keeping a central focus.
We arrived at Anna’s house at 6:20 and went up to her office where we sucked down a few cokes and talked about strategy…Anna was pretty
nervous; after all, these were her own family members who could decide to “shun” her as a result of this exchange. Brian and I were looking forward to the opportunity and chuckling about some of the Jehovah’s Witness quirks (no birthdays, military service, etc.). After talking for a while, we spent about 15 minutes praying that Jesus would come and fill that room with his presence, and would draw these guys to Himself through the Scripture.
WHEN DID JEHOVAH DIE?
Finally the JWs arrived and we shook hands all around. Mickey was the youngest (20’s) and was not an elder…then there was a man in his
thirties who was an elder and guy who looked to be in his fifties, who was also an elder. The two younger witnesses were related to Anna, and
were very comfortable. The older guy seemed edgy throughout. We explained the format, after which I began explaining that we, as Christians, believe that Jesus is Jehovah-God, the Son. I read, from their Bible, Isaiah 43:11, “I am Jehovah and besides me there is NO SAVIOR” — We all agreed there is no Savior but Jehovah. Then we went to Luke 2:11 where we read, “a Savior who is Christ the Lord” — oops…I thought Jehovah was the only Savior…they began to look a little uncomfortable.
Then I read from Revelation, where John saw the awesome figure (Rev 1:12-16) who was so awesome that he fell down like a dead man. Then this personage lifted him up and said (1:17-18), “I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One.” I asked them: “Is this Jehovah God?” “Oh yes,” they agreed, “this is Jehovah”. Then I kept reading, “I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!” “When did Jehovah die, guys?” “When did he die?” They looked at me and said nothing. “I’ll tell you what all Christians believe. That he died on a cross 2,000 years ago for our sins.”
When it was their turn, they went round and round the trinity tree…”You guys believe in 3 gods. We only believe in one God.” They read all passages where Jesus talks about the Father as a separate person….when they had finished, Brian explained the idea of three persons or characters in one God, made up of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then he mentioned again the fact that they have diminished Jesus to a lesser deity.
ALL OVER THE MAP
Next, the JWs were scatter shooting all over the New Testament, again reading all passages that differentiated between Jesus and the Father,
also bringing in “firstborn” over all creation from Colossians, and informing us that Jesus was Michael the Archangel. We began to see differences in our translations of the Bible.
WHO IS ON THE TRANSLATION COMMITTEE?Again, when it was my turn, I brought them back to Revelation 1 and said, “So far we have heard nothing about when Jehovah died; I hope we hear an explanation before the night is through.” Then I went after their translation. “Um, in the front of your New World Translation, I notice there are no names of translators, just a committee. Who are the translators, where did they go to college, what did they study in the way of Greek and Hebrew, and where do they teach and what articles have they published?” They reacted defensively, “We don’t know, but we trust them.” “Did you know, guys, that the New world Translation has been discredited over and over by Greek and Hebrew scholars? Aren’t you even a little curious as to the qualifications of your committee? Who are these guys? Give me a name!” They kept hedging and dodging until the older guy finally said, “I know who they are! But I’m not telling you!” Everybody laughed. I whispered to Anna, “Are we being too aggressive?” “No”, she whispered, “let em have it.”AM I REALLY SAVED?Next, they shared their view of salvation. Salvation comes by faith and following the teachings of Jehovah, i.e. going door-to-door. Several times they said that they had no assurance of salvation tomorrow, only today, based on their actions. Armageddon could only be avoided by being sure to do enough work for Jehovah each day.JESUS CHRIST — ONLY NAME THAT BRINGS SALVATION
Brian responded well using his testimony and I read several famous N.T. passages (Eph. 2:8-9, Titus 3:5, I John 5:13) that made it clear that we can KNOW that we have eternal life through Jesus. Also mentioned Romans 3:20 that “No man is justified by the works of the Law”. “Since Jesus saved me, I am His witness. Acts 1:8 says, “you will be my (Jesus’) witnesses”. We are witnesses of the grace and gospel of Jesus Christ,
who is God the Son. The Bible says there is only one name above every name (Ephesians 1:21), there is only one name that brings salvation (Acts 4:12), there is only healing in one name (Acts 3:16), and forgiveness in only one name (Acts 10:43). That name is Jesus! Even demons tremble at His Name (Luke 10:17). And by the way, when did Jehovah die. We haven’t heard an explanation for that yet.”
A LITTLE TENSION
Then they again were all over the place. First to James to prove works salvation, then to Revelation to talk about judgment. I quoted Martin Luther: “We are not saved by working, but because we are saved, we work.”
Just for fun, I read them 5 mistakes of the Watchtower Magazine (which they hold up as divine). I reminded them how the Watchtower taught that
vaccinations were forbidden, then changed four years later, how the Watchtower taught that organ transplants were cannibalistic, then flip-flopped 5 years later. “How would you feel if your child died for refusing to be vaccinated, then later the Watchtower switched? How can you trust such an inaccurate magazine? And when did Jehovah die, by the way?”
Now real tension began to develop. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to question or independently think about Watchtower or doctrine. Brian
mentioned that Charles Russell, their founder, was only 18 and didn’t know Greek either. The older man got irritated and said, “Well, who are your founders? What about Jimmy Swaggart?” I responded, “Sir, Jimmy Swaggart never translated the Bible, and when he sinned, he was disciplined and eventually had his credentials removed by the Assemblies of God. Was Russell ever disciplined for lying on the witness-stand in open court about knowing Greek? Has the Watchtower ever apologized for false doctrine?”
THIS CONVERSATION IS OVER
Now the older man became very agitated. “Well, I think we have gotten off the original subject and this conversation is over!” “Wait a minute”, I said. “Can you just confirm for us that we must join your organization to be saved?” “Oh yes,” they said. “You must become Jehovah’s Witness to be saved.” “Even if I confess with my mouth and believe in my heart that God raised Jesus from the dead?” “That’s right; you must also follow Jehovah’s teaching”. “Are you really telling me that you are the only ones with the truth, the only ones that offer salvation, even though your translation is suspect and your magazine full of errors and contradictions? You can know that you are saved! You don’t have to lie awake every night wondering if you knocked on enough doors to avoid Armageddon; you can know right now that you have eternal life!”
Brian again shared part of his testimony and the fact that God touched him in a personal way and revealed Himself to him through the Scripture. “I was a biker with no training in the Bible, and Jesus saved me, changed me, and revealed Himself to me through the Bible.”
The older man stood. “Well, I think Anna has enough information now to make up her mind.”
We stood, shook hands, and they were gone.
SEEDS OF DOUBT
After praying again, we departed….I know we planted seeds of doubt in their minds that will cause them to think for days to come…
Anna is believing like the jailer in Acts that God will save her “whole household”. Recently, her mother prayed the sinners’ prayer and accepted Jesus. Please pray for our Jehovah’s Witness friends these next few days that Jesus will reveal Himself to them as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and that they too will have eternal life through His Name.
UPDATE! By 2003, all of Anna’s family have accepted Christ, even her mom! Praise the Lord!
If you are fascinated by this topic, send me an e-mail and ask for more information on battling the cults. firstname.lastname@example.org
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” — John 3:16