Is there any hope for Jehovah's Witnesses?

I have loved ones who have been Jehovah’s Witnesses for decades, since their early 20s. It just seems hopeless that they will ever return home to the Church, despite the prayers of many family members. I am encouraged to see some former JWs on this forum, but it seems like the ones here have done a lot of critical study to come to the point of leaving. Most JWs I am familiar with (including my loved ones) are content to follow whatever the Watchtower Society teaches, even if the teachings at times do a 180. It seems to me that the only hope is a Road to Emmaus type experience or an apparition. Do any former JWs on the forum have any encouragement for me from your personal testimonies? Have you had powerful spiritual conversion experiences that you knew were the work of the Holy Spirit? Or does anyone know of any particular saints (besides St. Jude) who would be especially efficacious in bringing Jehovah’s Witnesses to Jesus and His Church?

St Monica prayed for the conversion of her son for decades! There is hope for everyone!!

(And if you were unaware, her son was St. Augustine, who went on to become a Father of the Church!)

Yes there is hope for them because they are sinners like us. That is why Christ came and that is part of His mission, to reconcile us sinners to God.

I think there is hope for everyone. God can use all of our situations to bring us closer to Him. I have family who are JW also. I find their beliefs to be very questionable, but I have also seen some pretty good results from them as individuals and within their congregations in terms of serving others and trying to live moral lives.

I could never become a JW, and some of my relatives believe that means I am doomed. I tell them I have more hope in God than that. I have found it best to take people where they are and to be open to listening to them, that they might be open to hear me out. Then I offer the situation to God and let Him take care of the rest.

Keep praying and living as Christ expects us to. It may take years, but down the road that may be what it takes to change another person’s heart. You just won’t know who.

I believe that there is hope for everyone, you just have to pray for them. Like someone already said, St. Monica prayed for her son, St. Augustine for decades.

If we have no hope for them we have no hope for ourselves. As Kathleen said, we are all sinners. I too have family members who are JW and I continue to hope & pray for them everyday. If I didn’t, I may as well not pray for myself.

It’s one of the hardest things in my life to watch and not be able to do anything about but we must remember, God is in control and He will open their hearts when He decides. If we don’t have faith in that, then what is faith?

In the mean time I prepare myself to answer questions and defend my faith to the best of my ability in hopes they are moved by the Holy Spirit and want to know what the Catholic Church truly teaches.

Peace!!!

No sinner without a future, and no Saint without a past.

Well, most of their claims are so preposterous that you don’t even know where to start. There’s almost no resemblance to the teaching of the Church. So it’s hard to demolish an entire mentality. Prayer!? Of course, nothing without it. But it’s not the only thing we must do. We have an obligation to evangelize. Don’t expect results in one talk. On the contrary, you may see him become more obstinate in his belief. Patience. If you realize that you, or the other gets mad, angry, it would be a good call to stop the conversation and pray to the Holy Spirit for patience, just you, because he doesn’t believe in the Holy Spirit. And continue it at another moment, when the spirits have calmed.
You must elevate the discussion to questions of faith. Hear what he has to say, with calm and serenity. There are moments, when they claim something, that you just want to punch him for the blasphemies he utters. Don’t worry, the feeling is most likely mutual. :rolleyes: You are both interested in each other’s salvation, and sincere in your claims.
Let him set the topic of faith, and discuss from there.
If there are any particular issues you encountered and no not what to say, then post them here. God bless!

I returned to the Church after being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses for 11 years, not because of mere study on my part but due to the non-stop prayers of my family. And St. Jude (who has become my patron saint due to this) has obviously had a lot to do with it.

My grandmother prayed to our Lady, my mother to St. Jude, and other Catholic family members left me in the hands of our Lord through this time.

While it was because I had a mystical experience while visiting an outdoor prayer garden of the Stations of the Cross on a hill near San Antonio, Texas, I would never have gone to such a place if I had not been dragged there by a Catholic family friend.

As you probably know, Jehovah’s Witnesses abhor other churches and are somewhat frightened of going near them due to a belief that demons dwell inside of them and might attack them as a result. So it wasn’t an easy thing for this Catholic to arrange, but he did it. And it was while I was there in a very holy place that God started the process that lead me back home.

Each individual Jehovah’s Witness is different. I was very studious, and I demanded proof texts to support every belief I had and every step I took. God had something else in mind when bringing me back, teaching me I could never study to understand with my heart, and that “proof texts” don’t equal the truth of a loving relationship with one’s Creator. For me God taught me I had to stop depending on what I could learn and study and depend on what God could teach me through my heart.

And that was very, very hard for me.

It’s About Control

What I was experiencing in the Watchtower is known as a type of personal control mechanism by those who study high-control religions like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. When people feel they have little control in life they proceed to compartmentalize things to simplify their world. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a religion that fits the bill for those who have an intolerance for the ambiguity of the world, teaching that God sees things in “black-and-white,” “good-or-evil,” with nothing in between–and that we should too.

It thus feels empowering, like a drug, to get into a religion that has an “answer” for every question. Life makes sense when you allow no gray areas and can put things into their “proper” categories of “approved by Jehovah” and “disapproved by Jehovah.”

Thus it isn’t doctrine that Jehovah’s Witnesses are in love with. As you mentioned their doctrine changes drastically over the years (in fact, the religion I left no longer exists because they changed their beliefs so much over the past decade). They are willing to change any belief they have as long as the main one remains intact, namely: “We are in the right religion.” This gives them the control they feel they need to make sense of the world while offering pats on the back to tell them that being intolerant of gray areas is okay. They will thus tell themselves anything to avoid shattering that illusion, even denying their many false “end of the world” dates they once proclaimed as dogma.

While some doctrine discussion might help, in many cases you may need to avoid that. Unless something comes along to destroy this illusion that they have control and really know “the truth” about everything, they will stay put.

And even if we manage to accomplish this it may be difficult to pick up the pieces when their illusion tumbles down (not too few feel so disillusioned afterwards that they become atheists when they leave the Watchtower).

So if you are praying, you are doing well. Add to that (and request) patience. And don’t settle for being just your average Catholic–be instead the best Catholic you can be. That will speak volumes beyond anything you can point out in a book.

Remember that God knows these people are frightened and are in error due to their fear and need of a feeling of control. Who wouldn’t want to feel so sure about everything all the time? It’s great, let me tell you. And it’s also very false (which you also know at the same time when you are living under the Watchtower’s shadow, I can also confess).

Don’t give up, but don’t demand miracles. And never underestimate God’s mercy. Some can’t get out of the JWs because they emotionally can’t do it. They can’t stand the fact that they have got involved in a cult and have been publicly teaching others to accept falsehoods. It’s emotionally horrifying to accept that reality for some (could you do it?). So God will judge them taking them into account of their weaknesses. Don’t worry about that.

Thank you all for your replies. I should clarify that I am not doubting God’s mercy and I do have eternal hope for the souls of my loved ones, and I am a sinner too. It is just discouraging to pray and not only not see positive results, but instead to see them become more entrenched in Watchtower teachings. I am just feeling hopeless that I will see conversion this side of Heaven. It seems that Jehovah’s Witnesses not only have very different beliefs, but they have a different mind-set on how they approach everything, which is difficult to “re-wire” and also difficult to engage with in apologetics.

Thank you Delson, for articulating many of the things I have struggled with, and shedding light on other things.

This spoke to me so much. I started studying with the JWs in the early 1980’s. I was a teenager from a really messed up family. The JWs provided stability, security, and you are so right - black and white answers. Because my family life was so dysfunctional, it was comforting to know that this system of things was ending very soon - and soon I’d live in Paradise.

I was baptized at 18 - and remained an active JW until I was in my mid-20s. I began to see through the facade. It just didn’t add up … and when I started researching the false doctrines, it all fell apart. Despite the fact that I knew it wasn’t true, leaving was very very difficult.

But to the OP - don’t give up hope. When I was 22 and pioneering, I would’ve NEVER in ten thousand years imagined I’d someday be married with lots of children and CATHOLIC of all things.

God is good and his mercy endures forever. Even though I was a JW, I loved Him very very much. Obviously much of what I believed of God wasn’t true - I was brainwashed, but I honestly believe that if I had died, God would’ve read my heart and saw that my motivation was to love and serve Him. I was confused and wrong about a lot, but I was still His child.

God bless.

That’s encouraging. I can’t imagine ever getting that far with my relatives. While at the same time, I often think, “If only they could just sit inside a church for an hour…”.

Each individual Jehovah’s Witness is different. I was very studious, and I demanded proof texts to support every belief I had and every step I took. God had something else in mind when bringing me back, teaching me I could never study to understand with my heart, and that “proof texts” don’t equal the truth of a loving relationship with one’s Creator. For me God taught me I had to stop depending on what I could learn and study and depend on what God could teach me through my heart.

And that was very, very hard for me.

I have often wondered what the average Jehovah’s Witness thinks about Jesus. Is there any kind of ongoing, deepening, loving relationship? Do they believe they can communicate with Jesus and receive graces from Him, even though they don’t believe He is God? Is He talked about regularly at Kingdom Hall meetings?

Oddly enough, I have found Catholicism to truly have all the answers…! At least to the important things in life. Whenever I read or hear something that makes me doubt some aspect of the Faith, I have discovered that when I study the official documents, not only do I find clarity and consistency, but also much wisdom and beauty in the teachings. And then I conclude once again that surely the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church.

Yellowbird, thank you for your story. And welcome Home! You are very blessed to have been given eyes to see. That must have been hard to leave your JW “family”, if you weren’t close to your biological family. I do believe most JWs love God, however they understand Him. In my experience, the most hurtful thing is the practice of not really associating with non-JW relatives.

Well, I haven’t actually been demanding miracles…It’s more like begging and pleading…:gopray:

And never underestimate God’s mercy. Some can’t get out of the JWs because they emotionally can’t do it. They can’t stand the fact that they have got involved in a cult and have been publicly teaching others to accept falsehoods. It’s emotionally horrifying to accept that reality for some (could you do it?).

This would take a lot of humility. I hope those trying to get out would take the path of humility, because I think it would be very healing for them.

I have just been talking to someone else about this.

Part of the reason JWs stay in their religion is that one’s ego or self-identification can get pretty comfortable with the idea that they have made the “right choice” in selecting a religion, and that the religion they chose is the only correct religion with the only saving truths that can be found in the world.

Now we all like to feel we are right about what we believe. But this is something different. And it can happen to all of us–but it’s disturbing to even think that it can.

What we believe about ourselves: who we are and our place in the universe–all this is tied up with our personal convictions. If someone attempts to attack our convictions we respond as if they are trying to attack us–because in a sense we are our convictions, or at least the sum of them. How we perceive life, how we perceive and understand our place in the universe is all tied up in what we believe and what we do not believe.

This is basically normal. Catholics believe they have the right religion, and I should hope that anyone else who has chosen their religion has equally strong convictions about theirs too. But the religion of the JWs is one that adds a pat to the ego: “You are special for choosing the right religion. You are different from everyone else. And everyone else is against you for doing the right thing–and will try to stop you from doing it!” It’s these last facets that are so dangerous and so unlike what most everyone else believes about themselves and their respective faiths.

So it’s hard to get someone who thinks like this out of that group. If we have ever dealt with a drug addict or alcoholic, then we are likely familiar with rationalization and denial. These are defense mechanisms that unconsciously kick in to protect what we have consciously subscribed to. Once we’ve done the hard work of settling in with some habit, good or bad, we rarely go back and fine tune anything. Our instinct is to believe our choices are right and anything that comes along and threatens our perception of ourselves and the world around us is treated like a threat. Addicts won’t easily accept they have a problem just as JWs won’t believe much of anything we tell them.

Denial and rationalization are powerful things. I am sure we’ve all come across someone who was being stubborn about something that was clearly false, accepting to believe it despite all facts to the contrary. Those who have quit smoking can tell you stories about how they have been this way–and how hard it was to come around and admit they were slowly killing themselves.

Throw a religion into the mix, one that plays on the ego and reward’s it for thinking highly of itself, and it can be quite formidable. Not only can it be a humbling experience for us to help someone come out from such a high-control religious group, it can be an emotionally devastating event in the adherent’s life as they try to make sense of the world and find their true self of pick up the pieces to re-invent.

With the JWs we are dealing with far more than theology. We are dealing with psychology. Their religion does have traits that match the definition of religious cults, and I’ve even been to a national convention of theirs where thousands of JWs applauded when a speaker for the Governing Body said: “Some claim we are brain washed. I say yes, we are indeed brain washed! We needed our brain washed of this sordid world we have left behind to come into the one true religion of Jehovah God, don’t you agree?” And agree the crowd did to this, with cheers.

This knowledge should be used to redefine our efforts in dealing with them. Instead of only relying on apologetic approaches we might first consider other ways of reaching them. That is why prayer is one of the best things we can do.

Average? Hey that’s me! :smiley:

I’m one of that deluded bunch. But Ii haven’t yet seen the light.

We certainly deal regularly with Jesus at our Kingdom halls. He is often the subject of our Bible studies and Public talks. Often we deal with a specific aspect or quality of his and analyse what we can learn and how we can benefit from imitating it. He is the example we look to and we learn so much about his Father (Jehovah) from him. We understand the name “Christian” to mean “follower of Christ”.
All sincere JW’s would dearly love to be more like him.

In fact our preaching work we are famous for (infamous might be another word) is based on two scriptures, (Matt 24:4 and Matt 28:19,20) both words spoken by Jesus.

Some seem to have a misconception that we don’t believe in Jesus! I have had a few people say their pastors or ministers told them we don’t believe in him. Certainly not true. I suspect that idea comes from us not celebrating Christmas or believing he is not God himself. Some hear that and come to the wrong conclusion. :shrug:

I hope that helps.

All the best friend, your thread poses very interesting questions. :slight_smile:

No doubt there are some who have ego problems and are attracted to feeling special. But I would suggest such ones don’t last as JW’s. I know of ones in the congregation who insist they should be elders and often mention it - and that attitude is kind of why they aren’t selected. :wink:
Jesus said: “He who want’s to be great among you must be your minister (servant).” So egotistical ones don’t suit that philosophy.

I see you were one of Jehovah’s Witnesses once?
Was it you who said you also concluded you were of their 144,000? (the select few we believe are to rule as kings with Jesus) Or am I mixing you up with another? :confused:

I wasn’t talking about an ego problem or feeling important in the actual religion of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. What I am speaking about is a problem that can actually affect anyone in any religion–even an agnostic or atheist.

It’s called ambiguity intolerance. While it’s not a mental illness or anything of the sort, it is a personality trait common to people who are adamant about being in the one true religion, often with the trait of letting everyone know that fact and usually joining what is known as a high-control religious group. It can happen without such membership, but not often. And it should be noted this is not meant to reflect every single individual who may be in such religions.

Ambiguity intolerance is a personality trait where an individual builds a world around them in which everything is compartmentalized. For these people they are not comfortable with any gray areas. When it comes to religion, things and people are either compartmentalized as “good and true” or are placed in the other compartment marked “evil and false.” There is no in between.

Technically Never a Witness

While I did live among and worship as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it was discovered 8 years in that I was not the child to the parents I had believed were mine (though I was among relatives). When it was uncovered who I was, my baptism as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses was technically rendered null and void. My position as an elder and a long-time member of the anointed remnant (when there was still only 8,000 of us) was taken away.

As you know candidates for baptism as a JW have to break off all ties with other religious organizations. Unknown to me was that I was Jewish, from a very important Jewish family, had ties to the State of Israel and Spain, and even been baptized into the Catholic Church in a European ceremony in which I was installed into the Office of the Apostolate and so christened as a babe. Being that I was still a member of the Church and with my dual citizenship I had the choice of renouncing all–including my Jewish ancestry–and be baptized again or be considered an unbaptized publisher.

When told by the elders assigned to me that I had to break all ties with Israel because the Jews, and I quote, “are suffering all they are because Jehovah rejected them. That’s why they died in Nazi concentration camps. God is demanding their life-blood for rejecting and killing his Son”–after that I left the JWs, around the same time I experienced a life-changing event.

Being told that I had to reject my culture and my country and that my people suffered what they did because they were “Christ-killers” and “deserved the Holocaust” because they rejected Jesus as Messiah is a demonstration of the ambiguity intolerance problem I have been discussing. To the JWs it is “you are with us or against us,” and “everyone not with us serves Satan.”

There Is Still Love

However there is still love and deep respect for the JWs. What you read here in this forum is only half of the story. What I am engaged in is a ministry where I am trying to change the view many Catholics and others have about JWs. I don’t think they are in a “false religion,” per se, just that they have some incorrect ideas. They definitely don’t deserve the bad wrap they get, and bridges of understanding need to be built.

Unfortunately JWs don’t realize how incorrect they are about Catholics and other religions (and people who are not religious). So on this forum you read a lot about my countering the type of attacks these people receive from JWs. I know I had it wrong when I was a JW about myself and Jews and Catholics and Protestants. So I am trying to help people defend themselves.

But I don’t believe what you believe about me, that if you are not in my religion you are not serving God. I believe you are serving Jehovah. But I believe I am too–a Hebrew Catholic who believes all the Catholic Church teaches.

By the way, for those who are curious and trying to tie all the events of my life as a Witness together, be aware that a lot happened at the same time that I left. So if it sounds confusing let me put things in order.

[LIST]
*]I learned about my actual identity.
*]I had a mystical experience directing me to return to the Church I was baptized in.
*]Details about my heritage and identity proved problematic and incompatible by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
*]I left the JWs on my own and slowly started back on the path to the Church.
*]I was able to piece memories together from childhood of living a Jewish/Catholic life while I learned about my Jewish heritage (i.e., I remember eating “kosher,” just didn’t know that is what I was doing until it was explained to me).
*]A reform rabbi, historians, the Church, and an orthodox Jew helped me map out my family’s lineage over a period of 20 years.
*]Still a faithful member of the Catholic Church today.
[/LIST]

Each one of these points are condensed points and involve layers of events. The rabbi involved in helping me trace my heritage was one of the individuals that helped me learn about myself from the beginning, and the 20 years-count begins with that event before I left the Watchtower.

I also want to emphasize that I don’t believe all Jehovah’s Witnesses have problems with ambiguity intolerance. I met a few who didn’t, but they usually didn’t fare well in the religion and either left or were forced out due to being told they were being “uncooperative” or “problematic” in their thinking.

And while I don’t believe that the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses is entirely false (for example they have a great love of the Scriptures and Jesus Christ, etc., and those facets are not false by any means), I also don’t believe they have a religion that is complete in its understanding.

I also don’t hold all Jehovah’s Witnesses responsible for the anti-Semitic remarks made by some of their congregation elders in my presence.

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