One of my parents has been a JW for the last 10 years or so. Obviously I am a Catholic and I think the JWs are a false religion with displeasing cultic qualities. I would like to bring my family member to the true faith but despite my attempts to explain to her the truth of the triune God or the various errors in the New World Translation she remains stuck in her ways.
What are your experiences with witnessing to a witness?
My JW family member seems to be interested in aspects of the Catholic church (the “Francis effect” has caught on to her) but certain elements of the Church would be discouraging for her coming from a JW background - e.g., the lack of religious passion and conviction among a lot of laity and clergy compared to those among the more “exotic” new religions.
God bless you on this task and remember it is God alone who will change hearts.
I sympathize with you as my family also is of JW beliefs and it has been my life long journey to help them see the light. If they have truly seen the workings of Francis as good then it may be a good opportunity to invite them to search for the one true church Jesus established. This may get them looking deeper.
There is plenty of information to logically refute any JW claims so if you have any specific questions feel free to ask here on CAF or you can PM me.
It’s just her friends in the JWs who would probably disfellow her if she leaves. I understand this in itself is a big obstacle to leaving the Watchtower Society. She is the only one of our family involved in the JWs. But if the only way to be a JW in good standing is through willful ignorance and pitting family members and friends against each other, then this clear proof they are an unholy “church”.
When you raise the disfellowship issue with them I think their defense strategy is Jesus’ observation about how he will pit brother against brother, etc, and also there are some lines in the Pauline epistles about being watchful of the company you keep. Any thoughts on this folks?
Please remember that YOU don’t convert anybody. The Holy Spirit does that. All that you can do is pray, be there for her with the proper loving answers, and show the love of Chirst that He asked us to share with everyone. Outside of that it is only the Holy Spirit that can change a person’s heart.
My sister in law and her husband are JW, she was raised in a non-religious house hold and they got her at about the age of 25 and she has been a JW for the last 30 years, her husband became one when they met he was from an agnostic church of England tradition.
In my experience over the last fifteen years the biggest obstacle when dealing with them and other JW’s is a wilful ignorance.
It would appear that the average JW seems to think that ignorance of other faiths and their history etc is actually a good thing, in their mind it would seem that the less they know about other faiths and particularly about other Christian traditions with a special emphases on the Catholic Church the less polluted they are by the devil and his evil minions.
I have found this to be the most frustrating thing when dialoguing with JW’s, If for example they open the conversation by wanting to talk about the bible and one asks “Why do you use the Protestant Canon”? I have found that most don’t even realise there are other Canon’s and that of all the Christians in the world the Protestant Canon is in the minority, and what is worse they don’t want to know.
It is this wilful ignorance often accompanied by an appalling arrogance which seems to come from being one of the chosen few with the “Truth” that are the main obstacles when dealing with JW’s.
Thanks for your story! Unfortunately the JWs do not see knowledge and reason as companions of faith the way we do in the Catholic Church. This leads to as you said willful ignorance and paranoid distrust of whatever the Watchtower Society decides to demonize. It is sad really. I saw a plot of US census data from 2004 I think, which showed that JWs have on average the lowest educational attainment among all followers of an organized religion. Our Lord gave us the gift of reason that we may discern truth. To be irrational is sinful, an act of self-castration.
I’ve always found that a good approach is to tackle their own history. While most JW’s are prepared with a slew of counter-arguments against even difficult Biblical questions, they are often more taken by surprise when you ask them about the origins of their denomination, the scandal surrounding the Beth Sarim mansion, the shady dealings of Charles Taze Russell, the multiple false predictions for the return of Jesus, their stance that Jesus was executed on a torture stake despite their use of the cross in their own pamphlets in the past, or that they used to officially celebrate holidays like Christmas (you can look up old JW Christmas invitations online). These are things that can readily be shown with visual proof, and can lead to them at least being willing to question other things.
While this approach can be quite helpful and very effective with some, just be warned from an ex-JW (myself) that it can also have the opposite effect…especially if the person you are speaking with is already one of Jehovah’s Witness. (This is not to say that the above poster is wrong or to challenge them. I am only adding an extra facet to their already well-expressed ideas that may help.)
Jehovah’s Witnesses actually undergo weekly training in their Kingdom Halls that prepare them for such “attacks” on their belief system. They are instructed to label such “surprises” about their history as false stories. Their official instruction is that they are to identify the person sharing such “falsehoods” as under the influence of Satan or demons, and therefore most will just laugh away what you present to them, even if you present them with physical evidence. They believe that Satan will manipulate anything in an attempt to keep them from the “only source of life” which they believe to be their religion.
Part of the reason for this response is due to their wanting to be faithful to their religion (who doesn’t?). But the other reason for such a response is due to something people are calling “the backfire effect.”
Normally when we are presented with information that goes against everything we currently believe or think we know about the same subject (be it religious or otherwise), we tend not to accept it but to label it with suspicion. If the information comes at us in ways that we cannot accept (such as evidence that we might have made a mistake in our choice of religion), we normally won’t agree with the evidence. Instead we will fight back in an attempt to stand firm in our convictions.
This is actually a good thing because, under normal circumstances, we don’t want to be readily shaken from our understanding of things (which we try to base on as accurate of information as we can get). But if we have truly made an error in something, this normal response makes can frustrate efforts to get us to accept our mistakes and correct them–the attempts can even “backfire”!
We like to think that we ourselves will readily make such changes if they were pointed out to us, but that is not true. It’s part of human nature to stick to our guns, so to speak. Therefore it can be doubly difficult to get any fact across to one of Jehovah’s Witness, even “backfire” by making them more assured of their beliefs. They will likely see such an attempt as an attack from Satan: “And if Satan is trying to stop me from being a JW, then I must be in the right religion. Otherwise why would the Devil be so against me?”
The truth is you cannot convert anyone (Catholic, Buddhist, Jehovah’s Witness, etc.) unless they want to change. People who want to stay faithful to their convictions will never give in to a challenge. Would you readily convert from everything you currently believe about God, the universe and yourself?
Still you can live a life that challenges the incorrect view JWs have of you and your religion. You can be more studied in the Bible, be more merciful, loving, and helpful than they expect, and even convert them by living a witness that speaks volumes without your saying a thing. That is the most convincing, to be honest.
JWs believe nobody reads the Bible as much as they do, serves the needs of others in the world more than they do, and are better in being loving then they are. If you want to give them something they can’t argue against, be a living witness that excels any attempt to disbelieve. While such an approach to confront them with their mistakes might help some, it can also leave you more frustrated than when you first began!
What is it that they believe, and how does that differ from other Christians/Catholics ? How did they get started and what is their appeal ??
I have a former classmate who is a JW… I’m sure he knows about our faith, but has somehow come to become a JW. They must have a convincing speal to get someone to turn away from the true Church of Christ.
The beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are complex in that they have changed greatly since they were conceived in the late 1800s (and any one of their doctrines may change as I write this or as you read this–and that’s not a joke).
Currently they believe that true religion is limited to the written revelation of the Protestant Scripture canon as defined by the members governing their doctrine known as “the Governing Body.”
They believe that people must pronounce God’s name in order to worship God acceptably. While they claim to be a religion of truth, they prefer to use the incorrect pronunciation of “Jehovah” over the linguistic evidence that supports “Yahweh.” God’s attention to prayers as well as personal salvation can be dependent on the use of this name and their choice of pronunciation, according to their teaching.
To them Jesus is not God but God’s “son” in the sense of a literal offspring, a created and lower being. Up till now he has been identified in Watchtower publications as one and the same with St. Michael the Archangel. While they publicly admit to belief in the “deity” of Christ, calling him “a god,” they cannot explain how this is possible in view of their other belief that “Jehovah is the only true God.” Also, the Holy Spirit is considered by them to be nothing but God’s energy that he can direct to do his bidding “much like electricity can be used to power a light bulb” according to one of their favorite explanations.
They believe that only 144,000 people will go to heaven but that millions of others will live in paradise on earth. They also believe that their belief in a paradise earth is unique to their faith, but in reality it is borrowed from both Judaism and Catholicism and their teaching of a “new heaven and new earth.”
They do not believe in an immortal soul or hell (and they have an incorrect view of what we believe regarding these things as well), they believe that celebrating birthdays and holidays is giving worship to self and the devil, respectively.
They believe that Christ returned in 1914, but the reason no one saw him do this is because it was an *“invisible *return to power.” They used to believe that the world would come to an end before the generation that witnessed World World I died off, but that has just been abandoned for obvious reasons.
And they believe that the Bible is written only to the 144,000 who are given a special grace to understand it as a personal letter from God to them. If a person wanted to be saved they had to listen to these 144,000, until recently that is. Not too many months ago this ability to understand and authority teach the secrets of the Bible was reserved to members of their Governing Body, and them only. They also teach that only their religious organization is acceptable to God and that the Devil has all other religions, include the Catholic Church, under his control.
Not So Much “Doctrine” As It Is "Ambiguity Intolerance"
Constant change has been the only mainstay of the religion since it was founded in the 1800s. Originally they taught that the end times were the late 1800s and that the world would end in 1914. When that didn’t happen they changed their teaching to claim that Jesus promise to return again occurred on that date, the “invisibility” thing due to it being limited to the ‘perceiving eyes’ of the 144,000. They taught the world would end in the 1920s, then in the 1940s, then in 1975, and finally before those who were alive to witness the coming of 1914 died off.
This is just a few of many changes in beliefs. But I put them here to show you a pattern. They are far less concerned with what they believe. They are more concerned with being a group that teaches its followers that they are in the only true religion and that they are correct for belonging in it.
This is a facet of problem-thinking known as “ambiguity intolerance,” and it is a trait of some who have a need to compartmentalize things as “good” and “evil” to the extreme. The appeal may be found here for some in that this allows them to have an answer for every question since all facets of life are officially marked for them as either right or wrong, with nothing in between that you have to worry yourself about.
If you join today, expect things to change even more because their official magazine,* The Watchtower,* announced on November 15, 2013 that they should expect to follow any upcoming instruction from the Governing Body, even if it goes against their personal judgment and the direction defies human reasoning.
I was raised in a Catholic home by two parents who were likely the least religious in their families (I come from a Jewish heritage that may include Christians from the time of Christ, so being religious was important). My parents left the Church in an attempt to save their crumbling marriage (instead of avoiding immorality) and in the process dragged us children from church to church. I ended up being abandoned as a teen among the Witnesses (their last church choice before breaking up and each choosing a life of depravity).
I stayed there 11 years, transitioning from boy to man until after my grandfather, a very faithful Catholic, passed away. Not long after his death I was witness to an event that defied Witness teaching and laid the foundation for me to return to the Church.