Sharing the faith with Jehovah's Witnesses

On Saturday morning, two Jehovah’s witnesses showed up at our door. Normally I just thank them for their love of God but decline any materials or further discussion, but this time I deided to engage them in conversation – maybe because when I said I was Catholic, the response was, “So what so you think of all the scandals in the news?” (I replied that sexual abuse was a human nature problem, not a Catholic problem.)

At any rate, my husband came down and the four of us engaged in a 45-minute-long discussion. I had an appointment to donate blood that morning (ironic!) so we couldn’t continue, and invited them back to our home tomorrow evening to continue the discussion (we’re hoping to plant some seeds of truth; failing that, we’re hoping to get on the equivalent of the JW do-not-call list so they stop coming by).

I ordered Jason Evert’s book from Catholic Answers but I don’t think it’ll arrive in time, and I plan on reading the JW chapter in the Essential Catholic Survival Guide tonight, but I would like feedback in two issues from those who have BTDT:

  1. One of the JW’s seemed to be implying that if a Church participated in politics (i.e., gave guidance on the morality of certain legislation or political issues), it meant that Church was not the “true” church since Jesus never engaged the poliical authorities of His time. What’s the best way to respond?

  2. We got into a rather circular argument about Scripture and authority, with the JWs insisting that the Holy Spirit guides individuals into truth via personal interpretation of Scripture, and me insisting that that was why there’s tens of thousands of Protestant denominations, and also using examples of how Protestants use scripture to justify homosexual acts and etc. They just kept repeating their argument about how the Holy Spirit will guide you into truth if you test your beliefs against Scripture. I’m thinking of bringing up how and when the Bible was compiled by the CC. Will that argument be effective?

  1. Actually, Jesus did engage political authority when he spoke to Pilate (the Roman governor) and also when he addressed the Sanhedrin (which was involved in politics as well as religion). Although Jesus did not seek political power, he told Christians to be “the light of the world”, the “salt of the earth” and a “city set upon a hill”. In other words, we are to be openly active in the world, and our Faith is to serve as an inspiration to others. Although this can be done outside of politics, staying away from politics certainly places a big limitation on the idea of helping promote the Kingdom of God throughout the world.

Good resource material concerning the Catholic outlook on political involvement can be found in the USCCB’s Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship:
usccb.org/faithfulcitizenship/FCStatement.pdf

  1. In terms of the idea that the Holy Spirit will guide you into the truth if you test your beliefs against Scripture, that is another way of them saying that those who embrace the JWs beliefs were properly guided and those who don’t were not so guided. It’s a bit of a “cop out”, and lots of other groups can say the same thing about what they teach.

Catholic Answers currently has seven articles regarding the JWs which you can read online. They may provide you with some useful material. Click on the provided link for the index:
catholic.com/library/noncatholic_groups.asp

As a final note, in the JW Bible, they have John 1:1 saying, “…and the Word was a god” (rather than “…and the Word was God”). I once debated this outside with two JWs. They said that the JWs had the proper Greek translation and Catholics and Protestants didn’t. Being outside (and therefore away from my library), I had to utilize what I call “street apologetics” (i.e., bringing up a good point that does not require quoting from books and such). I asked them “Do you think the Greek Orthodox Church, which has been around since antiquity, knows something about the Greek language?” One of them was silent, but the other one said, “Well, absolutely.” So I told them, “The Greek Orthodox Church does not translate John 1:1 the way the JWs do.” And I let the strength of that statement stand on its own.

I reccommend this article, posted by Catholic Dude:

catholicnick.blogspot.com/2010/06/jws-are-correct-about-john-11-jesus-is.html

[LIST]
*]Where does Scripture state that Jesus is God?
[/LIST]
More for dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses:

[LIST]
*]Are They Awake on the Watchtower
*]Distinctive Beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses
*]The God of the Jehovah’s Witnesses
*]History of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

*]More Stumpers for the Jehovah’s Witnesses
*]Strategies of Jehovah’s Witness
*]Stumpers for Jehovah’s Witnesses
[/LIST]
Link to more articles on this cult.

This is from the Ask An Apologist forum and has some great info.

Go to a Catholic Bookstore, buy beginning apologetics 2, read it and have it with you. It is wonderful.

I dont know that you will have a lot of time for study, but it is a quick read so you should be able to get the fundamentals. And if you take notes, it wont look like you are trying to make them feel foolish.

FSC

We actually gave the JWs copies of the above two tracts before they left on Saturday. Since they were so generous as to provide us with a copy of the Watchtower as well as the book “What Does the Bible Really Teach?”, we felt we should return the favor. :smiley:

I was pleasantly surprised to find the Jason Evert book waiting for me in my mailbox when I returned home today (great service, Catholic Answers!) so I should be able to at least get that skimmed before tomorrow night.

Thanks for the input and the resources, everyone!

The JWs i have come in contact with are very hard to talk to about anything other than thier watchtower. one even insulted mt beliefs by calling them “bulls***” im fairly certain theyre not supposed to do that but i must have been making him angry because i was defending the tru faith well, idk:shrug:

OP it says oure former ELCA, whats that?:confused:

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

www.elca.org

thank you ma’am

Hello Wanner,

What a huge task you are undertaking by welcoming in the JWs. You did ask this question:

“I’m thinking of bringing up how and when the Bible was compiled by the CC. Will that argument be effective?”

And my short/long answer is YES! They cannot account for approximately 1800 years since the time of Christ, so highlighting the compiling and very jealous safeguarding of the New Testament will be a challenge for them. (BTW, they may change up the personnel and bring in a “ringer” tomorrow. Maybe not, but that’s been my limited experience.) The New American Bible lists the Popes from St. Peter to the late J. Paul II in the very front…do you have that by any chance? JWs cannot produce any sort of list/evidence thru the centuries. Ask them “Why not?”

Regarding the canon, or “table of contents” (if you get that deep in conversing with them), they will likely look up in their suplimental book “All scripture is Inspired by God and Beneficial” on page 370 or something, (sorry I don’t have it handy) to where it says words to the effect like " The Catholic Church lays claim to compiling the word of God in the late 300s, but actually the Christian Greek Scriptures were well in existence and in use long before then.". It’s a strong argument for unsuspecting Catholics who may not know better.

But they cannot answer to why the Church convened in Hippo, South Africa in 393 (to start) to settle an ongoing debate on which “books” were to be included and excluded. Jehovah Witnesses did not decide to exclude the Gospel of Thomas and Bartholemew, nor the other 20-something books of Acts, or Clement’s writings. So yes those Scriptures were around at the time, but it might help to ask the JWs who decided that they were inspired and authoritative, to the exclusion of all others circulating at the time. To me, this is an interesting line of questioning to see how far JWs go in attempting to steal Catholic history and claim it as their own. There is much more on this great topic you mentioned.

To avoid the obvious answer of “the CC compiled the Bible”, they may shift to something like “Well, years later the Bible was in Latin…a DEAD language, and JWs translated it into the common tongue of the day.” A good answer is that St. Jerome translated those “Christian Greek Scriptures” into Latin so that the meaning of the content wouldn’t change, ever. For comparable example, look at the english words of “worship”, and “gay”. Over the last hundred years, the shape of meaning of those english words have changed significantly…because English changes. Latin does not, thank God for that wisdom, and for St. Jerome.

Finally, do not be afraid! Welcome in the JWs into your home if you are stable enough, and please consider inviting them to your dinner table. These are lost sheep that have knocked on your door who are lost, and it’s a God-given opportunity to help them find their way home. Get to know them personally, take their materials graciously, and ask for a repeat visit. Then come back here to tell us how each visit went. :slight_smile:

Could not have said it better myself:thumbsup:

Well, we had a spirited two-hour discussion. I’m not sure if we made much headway, but I think we managed to insert two stumpers in there – one was when we read the passage in 2 Kings about Elijah being taken into heaven in a whirlwhind (this was when they were trying to claim that no one was in heaven but God). The second was when they were discussing how the Catholic Church didn’t forbid parishioners from going off to war, and Jesus never did that, so ergo the Church wasn’t following Jesus. My reply to that was, “Jesus didn’t tell the Roman soldiers that they had to stop being soldiers; rather, He told them to be honorable soldiers.” They didn’t know what to say to that.

Otherwise it was pretty much what I expected – they tried to claim that Jesus was a created spirit, a perfect man and not deity, the Trinity didn’t exist, the Catholic Church was pagan and burned Bibles so people couldn’t read them, etc. I don’t mean to make it sound like they were rude, because they were actually very nice people (a husband and wife team) – these are just some of the things that came up in the conversation. We’re going to meet again next Friday night.

The circular argument with sola scriptura continued – they actually claimed that the Bible could interpret itself, but every time I’d say, “Then why do we get two different meanings from the same passage of Scripture?” they would come back with, “Well, we have to look at other Scripture to corroborate the meaning…” and pretty much just avoiding the question. I think next time we’re going to emphasize Church history and the early Church fathers.

Keep us in prayer!

ask them why they re-wrote the Bible (the fiction known as the New World Translation) ask them why four of the five individuals that re-translated the NWT had no background in Biblical languages, and why the one who did hardly had any background at all (ie self-taught Hebrew and only 2 years of NON-Biblical Greek). that will stop them in their tracks. Also ask them why they use the cannon of the New Testament that was approved by the Church.

I talked about the NWT, and they claimed that the translation was authentic… I may go more into that during our next session. I did ask them why they used the canon, and that’s when they started with all the anti-Catholic myths about paganism and burning Bibles and so forth. Again, their version of history seems to be that the church put together the Bible and then became apostate.

That’s why my husband and I decided that during our next conversation we’re really going to push Church history and the early Church fathers, and I’m going to have some documents from several different sources so hopefully they can see that the JW version of history may not be entirely accurate.

Here are some Basic JW Apologetics:
catholicnick.blogspot.com/2009/06/basic-jw-apologetics.html

Good luck with this. While you have a great strategy in discussing church history–an area that they simply don’t have–just know that the moment they hear the words “early Church fathers”, that’ll trigger their own strategy to disprove the Catholic practice of calling priests “father”. You know, the whole “Call no man ‘father’” argument. It could disable your steering wheel, so to speak. Consider using the word “scholar”, or “scholars” instead. Either way, be ready for that defense so as to get back on track.

BTW, as far as what you relayed about what they said about Catholics burning bibles back then. It might be great ammo to ask them why they think bibles were burned. They may say that the truth was withheld from the public, or something like that. But really those “bibles” had errors, and/or missing books which might mislead people. Now get this…The Watchtower has a very nice incinerator at Bethel (their H.Q. in Brooklyn). JWs who came across copies of Studies in the Scriptures volume 7, The Harp of God, Millions Now Living Will Never Die, etc to forward those copies to said incinerator. Sound familiar? Why would the Watchtower withhold and destroy “spiritual food” for their own faithful?

Obviously it was a form of damage control to avoid misleading their followers into scandal as there was/is much incriminating evidence against their own sect.

Both religions burned/burns books. The difference here is that the Catholics burned books not made from themselves, but from others who did it wrong. However the Watchtower burns their OWN publishings so as to hide from their own gaffs. Should their own sheep become aware of these old books, they may lose faith. And I have almost all of them on my bookshelf. :smiley:

Sorry, one last thought…regarding Christianity thru the ages…
It might be fun to ask them what percentage of Jehovah’s Witnesses are literate. I’ll bet they’d say 100% worldwide. Then follow up with that of Catholic, and the answer is probably less than 100%. Oh they might feel proud about that. Then ask them how did Christianity get passed along throughout the centuries when for 1500 years there was no printing press, few were literate, and gee what a coincidence that certain sects emerged in the 1800s when written material became readily available. Have JWs always been literate?? I’d like to know that answer.

Ask: Does Christianity depend on literacy? What if someone’s illiterate, how can they come to know Jesus? They’ll have to think on their feet and say that someone who knows can transmit the message to an illiterate person. They’re thinking Catholic at that point. Then the hook…“Then why is it necessary for your group to be 100% literate?? If someone else can simply orally transmit it to someone else?” This opens up the Catholic concept of oral tradition as opposed to written tradition-only, and you’re getting very far with them if you do indeed get this far.

The punchline here is that the CC has had stained glass windows to teach the mysteries of the Gospel via pictures thru the centuries. Those who could not read, write, understand Latin, etc. could get a lesson through the pictures without having to be able to read or write. Same is true today despite a high literacy percentage these days. How did the JWs get, keep, preserve, and promote their message throughout the ages then? Especially because the antithesis of the CC with stained glass windows would be the Kingdom Hall where there are no windows, lol.

I have a friend who is Jehovah witness, one night we got into a discussion. I am not going to get into the whole thing, but the one he could not answer is when I asked him, Why does your faith group no baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

He replied, we don’t believe in the trinity. I replied, so you don’t believe in that part of the bible?

He said, no we do, but no the Trinity. I asked again, and got the same answer.

Interesting. JW’s are also trained to becareful who they talk too and what they hear or listen too. If they truth shines, they block it out, and replace there own logic answer.

Meh just my 2 cents.

Good idea. I did a similar thing two months ago where I pointed out their organization was 1800 years too late for Christ and 1400 years too late in compiling the Bible. I also said their organization couldn’t be the true Church of Christ as their beliefs differed from the early Church and I used the True Presence as an example. While going briefly over John 6, I also mentioned it was backed heavily by the Church Fathers. I had quotations on my computer ready to go if they challenged me but they smooth-talked into the next topic readily aware that the Church Fathers was Forbidden Ground for them.:tsktsk:

Use “fathers.” And if they dare challenge it…

If we are to follow your interpretation of Matthew 23:9, then we cannot call people Rabbi, father, or teacher.

Acts 7:2

2 He replied, 'My brothers, my fathers, listen to what I have to say. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, while he was in Mesopotamia before settling in Haran,

What? “My fathers” and “our father Abraham?”

1 Corinthians 4:14-15

14 I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

“I became your father in …”

1 Thessalonians 2:11

11 As you know, we treated every one of you as a father treats his children,

“father treats his children”

1 John 2:

13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know the One who has existed since the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, because you have overcome the Evil One.

fathers?

Acts 22:1

1 ‘My brothers, my fathers, listen to what I have to say to you in my defense.’

Paul disobeying Jesus?

Titus 1:4

4 To Titus, true child of mine in the faith that we share. Grace and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Saviour.

Here we relate to God as “from God the Father”

1 Timothy 1:2

2 to Timothy, true child of mine in the faith. Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord.

“God the Father” Another example of NT writers referring to God as God the Father.

Exodus 20:12

12 'Honour your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you.

Honor your father and mother.

Luke 16:22-24,27
22 Now it happened that the poor man died and was carried away by the angels into Abraham’s embrace. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 'In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his embrace. 24 So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.”

Father Abraham? Remember this is Jesus telling this parable.

27 'So he said, "Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house,

Remember this is rich man talking to Abraham and Jesus is still speaking.

John 8:56

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to think that he would see my Day; he saw it and was glad.

Again, we see Jesus using the word ‘father’ for someone other than the Father.


Prayers. :knight1:

Eagle eye I’m glad you posted this quote because I couldn’t recall it from memory. Scott Hahn did a spoof of this verse as if John was admonishing against using the term “father” in one of his apologetics CDs. It went something like this:
I am writing to you, fathers, …to stop calling yourself ‘fathers’? NO
:smiley:

FWIW, I would strongly avoid using any terms that may generate an automatic trigger into JW denial mode, and “fathers” may be one of those terms for exactly why Eagle eye said. Yes I do see the wisdom of going ahead and using it, but with this group, you’ve got to find ways to “fool 'em” into hearing the testimony of the Early Church Fathers, and/or the saints who have preceded us in the faith.

An example of this deliberate avoidance maneuver/technique, around my JW friends I say “happy anniversary” to folks with birthdays ON their birthday. My defense is that you are only born once, and each year your day of birth is technically an anniversary, and anniversaries are OK by JW lore. How funny is that JWs actually do celebrate the anticipation of a birth day via baby showers. Who knew! :slight_smile:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.