My Debate With JW Elders

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 alone
I 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.

THE WARM-UP

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.”

TRINITY MERRY-GO-ROUND

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. jimost@sbcglobal.net

“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

13 Responses to My Debate With JW Elders

  1. hope2endure says:

    “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…”

    Doubts? And then there are doubts…

    The Unscriptural Trinity Doctrine Is Based On Pre-Christian Pagan Cults : According to biblical teaching, Jesus is not God.

    The non-biblical Platonic Trinity Doctrine is schizophrenic and contradictory and can be found in many ancient pagan religions from Bayblon, Egypt ect. Check your encyclopedias Brittanica and Americana. Plato’s concept of the “divine trinity” had its roots in older ancient sumerian pagan beliefs. The trinitarian dogma was a Church teaching, not a biblical one, that developed over several centuries and deviated from bible truth.

    1. If Jesus was Jehovah and Jesus died how is it that the bible says God cannot die? The bible clearly states that God cannot die therefore Jesus cannot be God.

    Why does 1st Corinthians 11:3 say “the head of every man is Christ and the head of Christ is God”

    Why did Jesus tell the Pharisees at John 8:17-18 “In your law it is written that the testimony of two men is true; I bear witness to myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me”.

    How is it the bible says no man has seen God and lived, and yet many people saw Jesus?

    Why does the bible describe Jesus as the first-born of all creation while it says God had was uncreated?

    If God and Jesus are one and the same why are there things that God knows, that Jesus does not? Mark 13:32 says “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”.

    When the mother of the sons of Zebedee asked Jesus to command that her two sons be allowed to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus in his kingdom, why did Jesus tell her “to sit at my right hand and my left hand is not mine to grant, but it is for those whom it has been prepared by my Father”. Matthew 20:20-23

    Why is the title Almighty never attributed to Jesus?

    If Jesus was God, how could Satan tempt him?

    When Jesus was praying for strength in the Garden of Gethsemane before being killed, was God praying to himself for strength?

    Why does 1st Peter 1:3 say “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”

    If Jesus is God why does he call his Father “my God” at John 20:17

    Why did Jesus himself say “the Father is greater than I am? John 14:28

    The Trinity doctrine was not known by either the ancient Israelites or by the Jews of Jesus day or Jesus followers? “Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord”. Are you familiar with how the Church formulated this doctrine at the Council of Nicea? After the death of the last apostle John, Roman Emperor Constantine sought to quell dissent in the empire between pagans and Christians. He sought to merge the Roman political state with Christianity but instead perverted it, hence the monstrosity known as Christendom and the apostasy from genuine Christianity. At the time, that Roman Emperor Constantine presided over the Council of Nicea he was unbaptized and still held the pagan religious title “Pontifex Maximus” (Pope). The majority of Christian overseers at that time did not heed the pagan Emperor’s command to attend the Council. Constantine did not get baptized until he fell sick (death bed conversions are somewhat suspect?). However, after his initial support of the Egyptian Athanasius’ trintintarian dogma, Constantine reversed himself and supported Arius and held that the trinity teaching was unscriptural, Constantine had many trinitarian bishops banished. Unfortunately pagan teachings and practices, including the pre-christian trinitarinan dogma, continue to influence Christendom to this day.

  2. Up close and personal Jehovah’s Witnesses can be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    Think about this-When the devil comes knocking on your door he may not have the ‘dark goth look’.They could be smartly dressed and wielding the Christian Bible.

    I have Jehovah’s Witnesses family in the usa who practice the Watchtower JW enforced ritual shunning that i have not seen or heard from in 15 years.

    The central CORE dogma of the Watchtower is Jesus second coming (invisibly) in 1914 and is a lie.Jehovah’s Witnesses are a spin-off of the man made Millerite movement of 1840.

    A destructive cult of false teachings, that frequently result in spiritual and psychological abuse, as well as needless deaths (bogus blood transfusion ban).

    Yes,you can ‘check out anytime you want but you can never leave’,because they can and will hold your family hostage.

    The world has the Internet now,and there are tens of thousands of pages up from disgruntled ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses like myself who have been abused by the Watchtower cult.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses are often a mouth that prays a hand that kills.The Watchtower is a truly Orwellian world.
    —-
    Danny Haszard former Jehovah’s Witness X 33 years and 3rd generation http://www.dannyhaszard.com

  3. hope2endure says:

    “Think about this-When the devil comes knocking on your door he may not have the ‘dark goth look’.They could be smartly dressed and wielding the Christian Bible.”

    Or the Devil (hebrew for liar) also known as Satan (hebrew for opposer) could be speaking through Danny Haszard to prevent honest hearted ones from gaining accurate knowledge of the scriptures.

    • bobby says:

      i think that getting accurate knowledge of the scripture must start with reading the bible and not a “bible” that was translated by people that are unqualified. it’s like taking a doctor’s prescription and asking a toddler to interpret

  4. hope2endure says:

    “And by the way, when did Jehovah die. We haven’t heard an explanation for that yet.”

    Go to your bible, Jehovah is the Alpha and Omega and is not subject to death. Are you familiar with the ransom doctrine in the bible? Do you know why Jehovah allowed his “only begotten son” to die for the sins of imperfect men? Do you know what “only begotten” means. Jesus was a perfect human descended through the line of King David, the bible says that all humans descended from Adam are imperfect, however David like all other humans was descended from Adam and was imperfect. So where did Jesus come from? Nothing perfect comes from anything imperfect or clean from anything unclean according to the scriptures. According to the bible Jesus had a pre-human existence and willingly took a “slave’s form”, that of a human to sacrifice himself on behalf of mankind.

    “It is even so written: “The first man Adam became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. Nevertheless, the first is, not that which is spiritual, but that which is physical, afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is out of the earth and made of dust; the second man is out of heaven.” 1st Corinthians 15:45

    The bible says that the sin of Adam resulted in death for himself and his descendants. Adam was a willful sinner but his descendants were born into sin. Divine justice allowed for the “ransoming” of Adam’s descendants.
    Jesus Christ provided that ransom, coming in the flesh as a perfect man like Adam. Jesus in effect took Adam’s place by his blood shed on the torture stake. He redeemed Adam’s descendants who were subject to death. A life for a life. Jehovah did not need to sacrifice himself which would have been out of purportion to Adam’s sin, besides which God cannot die. Jehovah is the Sovereign Lord of the universe while Adam was just a man. Jesus life was transferred to the womb of the virgin Mary so the “Word became flesh”, Jesus to emphasize his human status on earth, referred to himself not as God but as “Son of Man”. Romans 5:12; 1st Colossians 1:15-20; John 1:14; Luke 5:24

  5. VirusHead says:

    You might have created some temporary cognitive dissonance, but probably not much more. They would later have simply labelled you as part of the Satanic world and felt guilty for even listening to any of your arguments. I, however, enjoyed the argument very much! – well done.

    Focus on grace in future (their code phrase is “undeserved kindess” but it doesn’t mean the same thing). They think they can “earn” love with total submission to the arbitrary rulings of the guys in Brooklyn, and have lost all sense of higher ethics – compassion, caring, etc. It’s a kind of totalitarian meme machine – they aren’t alone in it, of course.

    JWs believe that God is sort of a mean little accountant – counting up their hours in service, approving when they are cruel to shunned family members and former friends. They believe their reward will be bodily resurrection on a paradise earth after the approaching apocalypse – but only if they obey and are submissive to guys in Brooklyn and their local elders. Of course, they don’t really have any plan for when someone makes a mistake or needs spiritual counsel – people avoid meeting with elders if possible since it’s usually punitive.

    It’s an insulated, paranoid, rules-based group – their regional leaders are even known as district and circuit “overseers” – just one example of their slave-based discourse. They have the normal problems of totalitarian, authoritarian groups, including domestic and sexual abuse and pedophilia. They can be quite destructive to families and kinship networks. Unfortunately, their former emphasis on literacy has fallen by the wayside as well, at least judging by comments I’ve seen on the web in the last few years (of course, they aren’t really supposed to be reading things like this anyway!).

    You could also ask about the training their local elders receive. Answer: none, really, except the “theocratic ministry school’ that everyone attends – more of a weekly public speaking class). Ministerial servants and elders are just whoever’s active, male, follows directions to the letter (not the spirit), and is not in any particular trouble with the organization at the moment. They typically have little or no training in theology, pastoral matters, psychology, philosophy, Greek or Hebrew, biblical interpretation, or even the history of their own group.

    Academic credentials? hee hee, good one
    In all fairness, they are supposed to tell you that the publications are anonymous for reasons of “humility.”

  6. Um, have heard no answer for “I was dead and behold I am alive forever.” If, logically, that is Jehovah, then Jesus is indeed “God the Son”.

  7. Steve Klemetti Jehovah’s Witnesses troll is apostate to the Watchtower governing body say’s everybody can just go do their own thing

  8. pres says:

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  9. Pahlo says:

    Why are you so dogmatic? Jesus had no such attitude. He had opposers too and with the wisdom he had reasoned with and condemned them when they were beyond help because he had the authority to do so. YOU DO NOT HAVE SUCH AUTHORITY!!

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