Two Jehovah Witnesses stopped by my house today. They are the 2nd pair to come by in the last two months or so. While most of our natural reactions when JW’s or Mormons ring our doorbell is to tell them we’re not interested, or maybe even to get angry at them, I encourage Bible-believing Jesus-followers (a better description than “Christian” for what I consider myself!) to see these encounters as an opportunity to share the true message of Jesus with these witnesses. The common bond that JW’s and Mormons have is that at the core of their faith, they believe we are saved by our good behavior (earning God’s approval), rather than being saved by our faith in the forgiveness and love of Jesus. On a theological level, neither group believes Jesus is God (they don’t believe in the Trinity)… (both will tell you in some way that “Jesus saves us”, but how can Jesus save us from hell if he was a mere prophet or angelic figure, only God can conquer something as powerful as sin! -and you’ll find this is only lip service to him saving us, it is truly our works, in their minds, that save us in the end)
On a side note, a couple months before my first pair of JW’s came by (June), I had a pair of Mormons come by as well (April). I learned a lot from each of these conversations. For what it’s worth, the pair of Mormons were a lot more polite than the JW’s. They were interested in actually having a conversation with me, and when I presented something to them that made their beliefs contradict Scripture (you have to know Mormons believe the Bible (KJV version) is God’s word), they said, “That’s a good point, I’ve never thought of it that way, I’m going to do more research on that,” which I appreciated. The frustrating thing about talking to both JW’s pairs that have come over (they also say they believe the Bible is God’s word… kind of… they change words and add words to the original Greek and Hebrew, how convenient, but for the most part you can still show them Scriptures to look up accurately), it feels like when I talk to them I must sound exactly like the teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons:
Because the JW’s tell me, “We believe everything the Bible says.” I then show them 3 simple Scriptures that show that Jesus/the Messiah is seen as God (a part of the Trinity) in Scripture:
Isaiah 9:6 (prophecy of the Messiah) For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 10:21 (same word describes Messiah in 9:6 as here describes Jehovah/God) A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.
John 20:27-29 Then he (Jesus) said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Colossians 1:16-17 For by him (Jesus) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
And I swear I must sound exactly like the teacher from Charlie Brown, because these are the responses I have received:
The first lady, after telling me adamantly she believes the Bible, told me that nothing she ever hears is going to make her say that “Jesus is God.” I asked her then how both of her statements can be true since Isaiah, Thomas (with Jesus affirming it), and Paul (author of Colossians) all just said that Jesus is God, and all of them are in the Bible.
The 2nd lady gave me an analogy about a dog to explain her view of Jesus in relation to the Father, and then said how she’s believed this for 25 years so she isn’t going to change now.
I’m not saying that the Trinity is a simple concept to digest, but please don’t compare your Jesus and God to a something about how dogs relate to each other. And I’m not saying you should listen to my view and in 5 seconds, understand the Trinity. The Trinity is hard for our minds to grasp: how does Jesus pray to the Father, while at the same time say, (John 10:30-31) “I and the Father are one.” Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him... or: (John 14:9) “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? But at the very minimum these Scriptures should exude the response from a self-proclaimed Bible believer that “I’ve never thought of it that way, I’m going to do more research on that.” If you’re interested in a more in-depth look at the Trinity, see my Feb. sermon on it:
Beyond the this’s and the that’s of our theological views, the lack of ability to listen presented by the JW’s is what troubles me the most. I give credit to the Mormons who were actually taking notes, and willing to hear what the original Greek and Hebrew texts say, and when there’s a difference with their beliefs, say: “Hey I’ll look into that more,” rather than claim to believe the Bible then immediately say that the Bible won’t change your beliefs about God.
It makes me wonder how often I do this when talking to others about their faith, or talking to other Christians about their doctrinal beliefs that differ than mine. While it’s more obvious when we see this in those of other faiths, it’s much harder to see in our own lives. While holding a Bible in hand, it is important that we read it for what it is (while using good hermeneutics I beg of you Christian!!), and try our absolute best to rid ourselves of preconceived biases we have, like how our Jehovah Witness, Mormon, Baptist, Pentecostal, etc. upbringing taught us to look at the Bible. Let’s look at the Bible (without adding any words to it please, JW’s!). Jesus ripped on the Pharisees over and over for adding things to the Bible, let’s make sure we don’t do the same in our traditions.
And to Christians out there, please show JW’s and Mormons the love and grace of Jesus when they stop at your house. Explain to them that it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9). They, like everyone else, need to here of these incredible gift God has given us, they are just happening to come to your door to hear it from you, rather than you having to go to them.
(you don’t need to go to seminary to have an intelligent conversation with these faiths. Check out these great resources, which are bullet-pointed and brief, and excellent: Mormonism by Kurt Van Gorden & Jehovah’s Witnesses by Robert M. Bowman, Jr. )