How do you engage with people who believe that the Bible teaches something that it clearly does not? How do you engage in discussion with people who use the same words and terminology as Christians do but whose doctrine is completely contrary to Christianity?
Tony Brown, a former Jehovah’s Witness, has written a tremendously helpful book which answers these questions.
On a nearly daily basis I walk past Jehovah’s Witnesses, they stand with their literature carts chatting away to each other, maybe it’s because I live in the city, but I rarely see them knocking on people’s doors. Many of the students that I’ve known in my time in Edinburgh and many of the people who regularly walk through the Meadows (a nice grassy area in the city, come visit!) have seen and engaged with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
But how do you engage with them in a way that is helpful and faithful to the Bible? How can we discern what they believe if sometimes the terminology we use it the same and if the theological differences seem small (on the surface they might seem small, but they are not!). Surely we are using the same Bible, so can’t we just argue that?
Well, yes and no. If you’ve ever engaged with JW’s then you’ll have noticed that the whole conversation can go round and round in circles, verses being plucked out of context (by both sides) and the discussion can get heated. But in discussions I’ve had with JW’s I’ve never actually had a concise breakdown of what they believe!
In comes Brown’s book…
In Sharing the gospel with a Jehovah’s Witness Brown unpacks what JW’s believe about the Bible (more specifically their own translation of it), about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and a few other topics. I cannot state how helpful this book is if you want to engage and have good conversations with JW’s.
Brown, being a former JW, takes you through the arguments that JW’s will use to argue their worldview and takes you to the verses from their own Bible that they use in discussions. Each chapter is filled with helpful insights, questions to ask and scriptures to question them on.
But we shouldn’t enter into discussions with JW’s to prove that we are right and that they are wrong, that is wrong! That is the desire to win the argument and not to win the person; it is hurtful and can be very damaging to the persons perception of Christianity. Brown says
“It is vitally important that we care for Jehovah’s Witnesses. They need to see that we love them. Sharing the gospel with them is not about showing yourself right and them wrong.”
To really care for them and to be able to understand them you need to have a little bit of knowledge about what they believe and where they are coming from (historically and theologically). This book is a great place to start! I say start because it is small, but the insights that it gives are very helpful and practical!
Brown starts off by giving you short history lesson on the beginnings of the JW’s and some of the prominent figure within the organisation. I found these first chapters informative and heart wrenching all at the same time. Here is a snippet for you
“It is the organisation, not the Bible, that governs the life and practice of every Jehovah’s Witness. That is why, if you ever get into Bible ping-pong with them, it very rarely gets anywhere. Allegedly, you cannot understand what the Bible teaches because you are not in the ‘organisation’. Therefore, they believe, however sincere a Christian you may be, you have nothing to teach them.”
How can you approach people with the good news of Jesus if they are stopping their ears because you’re not one of them? How can you correct people’s thinking about God and the Bible in a way that is helpful and not degrading?
C.P.R. – Yup, you read that correctly CPR. At the end of the book Brown gives an acronym to help you reach JW’s with the message of Jesus;
C = Care – Sharing the gospel in love.
P = Prayer – Battling in the heavenlies for the souls of the lost.
R = Resolve
This book is a very short 111 pages long (and A5), it is a great introduction to the beliefs of a cult and it offers very helpful insights to engage with and love JW’s. I look forward to sharing the insights that I have gained with JW’s on my next walk.
Buy the book here for just £4.99 or 10 copies for £3.50 each. This book will broaden your understanding, give you a heart for JW’s and give you advice on how to tell them about Jesus.