Last Sunday the Jehovah’s Witnesses had a big rally at the Hulman Center and they must have gotten all riled up because I’ve seen them out twice this week. First was Tuesday in front of the student union center at ISU campus where Friar Mario and I were doing street evangelization. I left Mario at the table while I went over to ask the two ladies some questions about baptism and why they think Jesus Christ is actually St. Michael the Archangel (Yes, they do believe that).
The second occasion was Wednesday morning while I was taking my walk around the neighborhood. Three women got out of a car, one with a Bible and 2 younger women with tablets in their arms. So I caught up with them and started asking them questions, building on the answers I had gotten on Tuesday. I started with why they believe their translation of the Bible is correct when it differs from every other Bible ever printed in 2000 years. The older lady got pretty frustrated with my questions and rebuttal to her answers and finally stormed off in a huff, the other two trailing along with apologetic shrugs. I hollered after them “Know the truth and the truth shall set you free”.
I found they were woefully uninformed about things outside their religion. Then again, most people are (including many Catholics). If you have the occasion to talk with the JW’s, make sure you can express your arguments orally, because they believe if they read anything religious not their own they risk their salvation. They may even refuse to touch it. JW’s are also the ones who believe that to receive a blood transfusion will also cost them their salvation. They would rather die than receive blood and many have.
People who know, say that it’s most helpful to first address the basis of their authority: the governing body that authorizes their unique biblical translation and their publication, the Watchtower, Jehovah’s voice. Also, they believe one truth cannot contradict another and a false prophet is one whose predictions don’t come true. So you can ask them to check their old publication which have flip-flopped over the years predicting Jesus’ second coming and the battle of Armageddon in 1874 and again in 1914 and in 1975.
Here are some other dogma specific to the JW’s:
• There is no separate soul. When your body dies you cease to exist.
• Resurrection is not a raising soul and body to new life so much as re-creating that life anew.
• There is no Hell. Just non-existence. To think otherwise makes Jehovah a monster.
• When you are re-created (the JW’s, not us) you will not be in heaven with Jesus—that is reserved for the 144,000 (Rev. 7, and 14:3-4)who already have their reservations confirmed (Which, if taken literally, are male Israelite virgin converts). The rest are the multitude (Rev.7:9) that will be here on Earth playing with the lions and the lambs.
• Jesus is savior and lord, but not God. He was crucified on a stake, not a cross, and of course when he died he ceased to exist, but when Jehovah God recreated him it was as Michael the archangel and so it was not a bodily resurrection because angels have no bodies.
• Oh yeah, they changed the prologue of John chapter 1 to read, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was a God.” So evidently angels are gods (I need to find another JW and ask about that.)
• The Holy Spirit is not a person, just a force like the wind. When I asked her how it is that Acts chapter 5 refers to the Holy Spirit as a person, as does Jesus in John 14 using the pronoun “he”—“He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” I think that’s when she decided to cut and run.
If you think about it, you can find scripture to refute each of these claims. For example, numerous times the resurrected Jesus eats food with the disciples. He says, “touch my wounds”, and in John chapter 2 after he cleanses the Temple he says “destroy this temple and in 3 days I will rebuild it…But he was speaking about the temple of his body.” Clearly there was a bodily resurrection.
So don’t be afraid of the JW’s. Every one I have met is a very nice person, and, as misguided as they are, they really believe what they teach. When they evangelize, they do it out of love, as do we. So when you meet a JW, gently plant some seeds of truth and pray that the Holy Spirit will lead them to all truth. I emphasize being gentle because if they leave the JW’s they will be shunned like the Amish. They have a lot to lose, but a lot to gain.