Yesterday afternoon there came a knock on my door. When I opened it, there were two middle-aged women on my doorstep clutching a stack of magazines and a well-worn Bible. I knew right away what was happening: The Jehovah's Witnesses had come to call.
I know enough about the Jehovah's Witnesses (JW's) belief system to know that their theology and what I believe to be true are diametrically opposed. Still, I counted this as a good opportunity for discourse and hopefully as a way for God to speak through me.
They began by talking a lot about the kingdom of God and as they spoke, they flipped through various verses in their New World Translation (NWT) Bible (the version of the Scriptures that has been radically retranslated over the years by the JW's prophets in order to fit and support their theological views). They wanted to stress to me a heaven on earth and, while I believe that when Jesus returns that will be the case, I responded that I also look forward to eternity in glory with God.
I got really tickled when the more talkative of the two tried to convince me that their New World Translation was universally accepted as the most accurate translation of Scripture. I told her that I didn't believe that it was and she responded with two fascinating "proofs" to support her claim.
First, she cited the Catholic Dictionary as stating that the NWT is the most authoritative. "Are you citing the Pope as your authority on this?" I asked and then was answered with a tirade against the Pope and his covering up of all of the sexual abuse over the years. "Why then do you believe what the Catholic Dictionary claims to say if you feel that way against the Pope and Catholicism?" Instead of answering that question they followed up with a doozy of a proof for the NWT.
"Did you happen to watch Jeopardy three weeks ago?" I was asked. When I responded that I hadn't, they told me that the final question for the three contestants was, "What is the most authoritative version of the Bible?" According to these ladies, each contestant gave a different answer and Alex Trebek, the host of the show, told each contestant that the most authoritative and trusted version of the Bible was the JW's New World Translation. These ladies beamed as if they had just scored the winning run.
Is Alex Trebek an authority on Scripture? Does he have the ability to translate for the Greek and Hebrew? What makes him an expert? These ladies didn't know but they believed that Alex and his staff on Jeopardy had done their homework and so it must be true. While I think Jeopardy is a great show I'm not sure I believed their story and I told them that I just don't believe I can accept a gameshow host as my authority when it comes to Scripture. But they were still pumped about his endorsement nonetheless.
These two women also got caught up in the idea of war and, while I don't like war and I don't think it's the best option, I also don't believe that being in a war negates your faith. However, these women said time and again that one could not be a Christian while at war because a witness cannot kill another witness. What if I speak harshly to my wife? Does that sin negate my faith? They didn't really answer that question so I tried to steer the subject elsewhere.
After a little more conversation in which they were trying to convince me that their beliefs were just like mine, I finally asked them about Jesus. Is He the Son of God? Yes, they said. Is He divine? They hedged on that answer because they believe that Jesus is actually the physical son of God and a brother to Satan. Finally, I asked them if they believed that Jesus was God. No, they said, Jesus is not God. When I shared with them the Scriptures that stated Jesus' divinity and relationship as God, they tried to reinterpret them. And then when I stated that it was actually God in the flesh who hung on the cross and died for my sins, they accused me of claiming that God and of speaking blasphemy and they also accused me of contradicting myself. With this they quickly left and headed on their way without really giving me a chance to respond.
I knew that this conversation would go this way. They were not going to convince me and I was not going to convince them. The JW's are methodically trained not so much in the study of the Bible (mainly because their version is warped) but more so what they are supposed to believe. It's a brainwashing in a sense and I pray that maybe something that God allowed me to say would sink in and make a difference for the truth.
As I went inside Kellie and I talked about the dialogue that I had just had (she was listening in the kitchen). She wondered if she would have been able to answer their questions or even refute what they had to say. Although I have a seminary education and have studied a little bit about the Jehovah's Witnesses, I assured her that most of the words that came from my mouth were words that God had put there Himself. I have no other explanation of how I was able to discuss some of the Scriptures and biblical truths that I did apart from the Holy Spirit and His power. I felt a little like the disciples in Mark 13:11 when Jesus told them that the Spirit would give them the words to speak as they made their stand for the gospel.
Have you ever had the opportunity to speak to a Jehovah's Witness or a Mormon on your doorstep? Instead of opening the door did you pretend not to be home or did you dismiss them with some quick words? Look at these as opportunities for God to build your own faith and quite possibly to change the lives of those engrossed in a cult. Don't worry about what they believe; instead, be grounded in what you know and believe. When the errors start flowing from their mouths, you will spot them and in turn can just point them to Jesus, God in the flesh, who desires to be Lord and Savior of their lives too.
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