Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Reflections on a Two and a Half Hour Conversation with a Witness Elder
03/22/2009 - James WhiteI have really missed having the opportunities I had back in the 80s and 90s to spend time meeting with Jehovah's Witnesses. I used to have many opportunities to go to homes and meet with Witnesses. Most of these came about when the Witnesses came by someone's home and asked to have a meeting with them. I would be invited and we would have a great time of discussion. Well, it was a great time for me, anyway! On a humorous note, the only time I've been physically accosted was during one of those meetings, and that by a little old Jehovah's Witness lady! I was kneeling next to her as she sat on a couch, showing her where the NWT had deleted the word "me" from John 14:14. When she had nothing to say in reply, she slapped me across the face, sending me sprawling in the middle of the floor! From the look on her husband's face, I got the feeling this wasn't the first such incident!
Anyway, it has been a number of years since my last encounter with JW's. They skip my house these days. My last conversations were on my front porch with a woman who insisted that she could, in fact, read my book on the Trinity. So when a member of my church (Bill) told me he had talked to Witnesses last Saturday, and that they wanted to come back to talk, I pulled out my NWT and my Kingdom Interlinear, dusted them off, and made the appointment.
We met for 2.5 hours on Friday afternoon. The gentleman, an elder in his congregation, is named Albert. He has been a Witness for over thirty years. I began by introducing myself, letting him know that I teach apologetics, and asking if I could summarize my understanding of his beliefs. I have found this to be a useful approach in the past, as most Witnesses have never encountered anyone who showed them enough respect to accurately study their faith. This normally gives me at least some time to present the "other side," as they generally do not know how to respond to a fair, accurate representation of their own views, replete with the use of their own "in-house" language. Of course, you have to emphasize that you have never been associated with the Watchtoewr Bible and Tract Society (as they will assume anyone who "knows the lingo" has been).
The conversation focused, properly, on Jesus Christ and His relationship to the Father. Even more importantly, it focused on the text of Scripture. It was not, however, the normal game of Bible ping-pong, one verse cited on each side, back and forth. Though I was happy to respond to any texts he raised, for the most part I was presenting to him key texts demonstrating that the NT writers identified Jesus as Yahweh. Then I added in examples of mistranslation on the part of the NWT as well.
I would love to report that Albert abandoned thirty plus years of dedication to the Society in one meeting, but to be honest, I have never heard of that happening. Leaving the WTBTS is a long and often difficult process. In the vast majority of instances where someone leaves the Watchtower and embraces true faith in Christ, the process began when someone went toe-to-toe with them in the arena of the Bible, and cracked the cocoon of assurance that nobody out there knows the Bible as well as the Watchtower Society. I pray that is what happened in this instance. For though Albert would not take my book, or even my business card, he did walk out with...his Bible. It is my prayer that the discussions we had about the texts that identify Jesus as Yahweh, or the text in Revelation 5 where all the created universe worships He who sits on the throne and the Lamb (a fact he refused to acknowledge no matter how plainly it was explained), or the Carmen Christi, will remain clear and vivid in his mind.
I should note that the meeting did not just have one goal in mind. Those who observed and listened (Bill, two young people from our congregation) were able to see as well the clear testimony of Scripture to the truth of the Trinity. My hope is that they will be greatly encouraged to proclaim those truths in the future as well.
I pray that God will bring Albert into contact with many more solid believers who will re-enforce the things he was told during our encounter, and that God will glorify Himself by bringing another of His own to saving faith in Jesus Christ.