This article is written for those who would like insight into how to have a meaningful and intelligent conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses. This article is not intended to show anyone how to win an argument. It’s purpose is to help one position themselves in a position where they are able to ask those good and probing questions to Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Understanding The Mindset of a Typical Jehovah’s Witness
It is very important to understand how a Jehovah’s Witness (JWs) views those they meet in their ministry. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses do not necessarily view all they meet as bad persons. In fact, many Jehovah’s Witnesses will acknowledge that many of the people they talk with are good people; but they are not “Jehovah’s People.”
Not being “Jehovah’s People” is the same as saying that a person is not a member of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (WTBTS) and a Jehovah’s Witness and not on the path that leads to life.
If one is not a Jehovah’s Witness, they are considered worldly persons who – if not converted to become a Jehovah’s Witness – that is, join WTBTS via a Bible study, dedication and water baptism, will perish.
So the typical Jehovah’s Witness feels that it is his/her obligation to do all they can to “witness” to all they encounter with a goal of bringing them into the safety of the WTBTS, which is considered by them as God’s spirit-directed earthly organization.
The WTBTS is considered by JWs as the only place one can go into to be saved from God’s wrath when it comes upon the world. Any who do not enter into the WTBTS as a JW will lose out on the prospect of everlasting life.
So the mindset of the JW when they view all outside of the WTBTS (worldly persons), is that those persons need to be preached to (witnessed to) with a view of convincing them that it is urgent that they respond to their message and join the WTBTS as a JW. Jehovah’s Witnesses are told that if they do not preach and witness to others with this goal in mind, they themselves will be bloodguilty because the message they carry is lifesaving. Refusing to preach a lifesaving message, is akin to causing that
Jehovah’s Witnesses are told that if they do not preach and witness to others with this goal in mind, they themselves will be bloodguilty because the message they carry is life-saving. Refusing to preach a lifesaving message, is akin to causing that person death for all eternity.
The JW conscience is massaged or cleared when they speak to people and those persons refuse to listen and respond to their message. They feel they have done their duty. Obviously, they are happy when persons respond and join them.
It should also be noted that when a JW approaches you, many of them are more interested in placing a publication in your hand and wanting to start what they call “Bible Studies” with you. This is their primary thought. Many take very little interest in you as a person; initially anyway.
I remember when I engaged in the field service, it was all about giving a rehearsed presentation and placing a WTBTS publication in the hands of the householder. If the householder accepted the publication, that became the key to call back on the householder to discuss the publication and to give them more. (These were called return visits).
Yet, I knew deep down inside many of the persons I placed publications with did so out of kindness and really had no interest in the publications by the WTBTS. I actually had one man ask me for all of the publications in my book bag so that he can give them to his friends and relatives. I later learned that we wanted them all so that he could destroy them so they would not be circulated.
So it is important to understand how a JW views YOU when he/she is standing before YOU. In the mind of a JW, what you think you know about God, Christ, the Bible is false and that THEY know the truth. Put another way, YOU are considered ignorant (not knowing) and they are informed.
How To Level The Conversation Playing Field?
First, it would be helpful to know what JW believe and more importantly, why they believe as they do. A JW will use to his/her advantage your lack of knowledge about them. They have already studied the basic beliefs of most of the major religious organizations and may be able to come into the conversation with an advantage: They know what you believe but you do not know what they believe.
Second, do not fall for the trap of accusing that JWs do not believe in Jesus. They definitely do believe in Christ and they will use that incorrect view of them to show you that they do indeed believe in Jesus Christ. This provides them with an open door to have you meet them on their terms. Remember, you want to level the playing field and not give them an advantage over you. So that is something you do not want to do. Do not say to a JW, “You people do not believe in Jesus.”
The best way to level the conversation playing field is by focusing on the major teachings of the WTBTS. I can tell you that most JWs are inept at explaining the 1914 date.
The 1914 date is a very important year to JWs. It is the date that JWs believe:
- That Christs parousia (return) occurred.
- That God’s Kingdom was established on earth with Christ as its king.
- That the Gentile Times (Appointed Times of the Nations) ended and the Last Days began.
The WTBTS belief system is built upon the foundation of 1914. It is assumed to be true and that all prophetic teachings and events will come to pass based on this date. Already, the WTBTS leadership is squirming because what it has declared many years past and up to now is not happening. The generation of 1914 would be 100 years old now and – according to the WTBTS – the end would have occurred BEFORE that generation dies out. I see signs of the WTBTS pulling another one of those “New Light or New Understanding” articles which is a clever way not to admit that THEY were in error. It does not benefit the WTBTS to admit that it made a mistake. Why? Because it hails and declares itself as “the truth” and God’s spirit-directed earthly organization and that God speaks only through this organization. So to admit that it has been in error is the same as admitting that it is not the truth. It will never do that. Additionally, it would risk losing many members as it did in 1975 under the false prediction that Armageddon would come in that year.
1914 is where you want to take a JW and task them to explain it. This is where you will be able to reveal to a JW that they have been in error and that they have been going against what Christ had spoken about his return. Now, I will show you how.
Ask: Where Did The 1914 Date Come From?
When you ask this question, most JWs will not be able to answer. Many JWs will refer to one of their publications to assist them in explaining how the 1914 date was derived. Most JWs will not be not be able to explain this without the use of one their publications.
The Book of Daniel 4:16 were it speaks of a period of ‘seven times” passing over the earth where mankind will be allowed to exercise control over the earth and mankind. When that “seven-times” expires, then God will give the kingdom to Christ.
Witnesses use this “day for a year” scheme claiming it to be the “Biblical” time. So they take 7 x 360 (days in a year) to get 2520 days. They convert the 2520 days into Biblical years to get 2520 years.
So the seven times equal 2520 literal years according to JWs.
Next, they take a prophecy found in Daniel that refers to the exiled Jews to Babylon returning to Jerusalem. JW believe that year was in 607 BCE in the autumn.
Then they substract 2520 from 607 BCE and they get the year 1914 in the autumn. It is in this year that JWs believe that the seven times (Gentile Times) ended and God’s Kingdom came down to the earth with Christ as its king.
Yet, what you want to get JWs to understand is that you ARE NOT asking them how the 1914 date is derived, but where did it come from. That is, what is the origin of this teaching?
Most JWs have no clue. All they know is what they have been told and indoctrinated to believe.Some JWs will say that it comes from the Bible. That is not what you are asking them either.
You want the JW to understand that you are asking them who originated the 1914 teaching? The Watch Tower Organization or someone else.
If they say that it came from the Watch Tower organization, then that will tell you that the JW that you are speaking with has been misinformed and misled or just outright lied to. Why? Because the 1914 teaching did not originate with the JWs, it originated with the Second Adventist Movement of the 1800s. Charles Taze Russell was associated with that organization as a young man and when he broke away from it to form his International Bible Students Association, he borrowed that teaching and brought it with him. For more details bout 1914, see my article “Where Did The 1914 date Come From?”
You can even show the JW you are speaking with the above article or encourage (even challenge) them to research it for themselves. Most will not as they are already convinced of this date.
I guarantee you, most JWs will run away from getting into detailed discussion about this most pivot JW teaching because they claim that God speaks only through the WTBTS. Yet, this 1914 teaching came from another source other than the WTBTS.
Christs Own Words Show 1914 To Be False
More than anything else, Jesus Christs own words at Matthew 24:36, Matthew 24:42 and Acts 1:7 show that 1914 or any prophetic date concerning his return are false. What makes humans think that God is bound by our mechanisms of time-keeping and the reckoning of days? We are arrogant and show no humility before The Most High God.
I firmly believe that one who claims to be a follower of Christ would unhesitatingly and gladly obey God’s command given at Luke 9:35 concerning His Son:
And a voice came out of the cloud, saying: “This is my Son, the one that has been chosen. Listen to him.
So no matter what any human or human entity says, it is Christ we are to listen to. And, what does he say at Matthew 24:36, Matthew 24:42 and Acts 1:7;
Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.
Considering Matthew 24:36 above: Why is a religious organization claiming to know what the Father only knows. Jesus is clear that nobody knows.
Keep on the watch, therefore, because YOU do not know on what day YOUR Lord is coming.
Again, Jesus is clear: “YOU do not know when your Lord is coming.” So how is it that a religious organization is declaring that it does know and has published a date!
He said to them: “It does not belong to YOU to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.
Jesus once again is crystal clear that people are not to be delving into getting knowledge about times and seasons. This is left up to the Father in heaven. Wonder why prophetic utterances of men fail? It is because it does not belong to men to determine what God will do on his own timetable.
Simply present these Scriptures to a JW and task him/her to explain why the WTBTS has published a date/year (1914) as the date of Christs return in kingdom power and Jesus says that “YOU do not know when your Lord is coming.”
Many JW will make an attempt to change the subject or take you on a Bible rollercoaster ride. Do not let them. Keep them right there on those Scriptures and emphasize that Jesus is clear in what he said and that by teaching any date concerning his return (or anything else) is in conflict with what he taught.
I am a former JW of more than 30 years and I have yet to have a JW deal with this. Many prefer not to. Some are very skilled at taking you off subject. (Drag a Red Herring).
Too, you want to explain why should you listen to them when Christ says different? Ask them was Christ lying?
Your goal is to put them on the spot and have them explain this. And, if they claim to be Christs followers, then ask why are they declaring and teaching something he said no one knows; not even himself? Are men greater than Christ?(Matthew 24:36)
What is important here is not to let a JW take direct you off subject. If they cannot give you an answer at that moment, they have been trained to say, “I will get back to you on that” and then move on to another subject. Do not let them do that!
If they do, then politely explain that until I get a satsifying answer to the 1914 teaching and a reconcilation to the verses at Matthew 24:36, Matthew 24:42 and Acts 1:7 no more discussions need take place.
No JW will come back to you with a clear and direct answer because there is none. Christ has spoken and the 1914 teaching cannot be true because knowledge of his return is not knowable by men or angels.
The reason why I chose the 1914 date to be used to level the conversation playing field is because – as I stated earlier – all prophetic utterances by the WTBTS hinge upon the truthfulness of this date.
If indeed this date is false, then the religious system built upon the foundation of this date has to be false also.
I reiterate that I am not using the 1914 date to show that JWs are bad people or that ALL that they believe is false. No, not at all. I use the 1914 date teaching to (1) help individuals converse with JWs over a subject that make many of them nervous when they are approached by individuals who are not ignorant about it and (2) to show that any religious belief system that is built upon a false foundation will only pile on top of it more teachings that are false. One cannot get figs from thistles. A bad (false) tree cannot produce good (true) fruit.
While the WTBTS and its membership (JWs) are sincere in what they believe, that does not make what they teach and believe true.
One cannot just blindly plow through Matthew 24:36, Matthew 24:42 and Acts 1:7 as if Jesus never uttered them.
The Bible, The Organization, or Christ?
Another way to reason with JWs that really puts them on the spot and prompts them to think about what they are doing and what they believe is really as Christ directed is by painting a mental picture that shows that they are deadlocked on making disciples of the Bible and the WTBTS rather than disciples of Christ as he asked us to. How do you do that?
First, by asking them why they seek to make Bible Studys (Bible Students)? The reasoning here is “Is that what Christ ask you to do? Did he ask that we make Bible students or students (disciples) to him? (Matthew 28:19-20)
This is extremely important because the expression disciple means to be a student of. The expression “disciple” also implies that if there is a student, there is a teacher.
If one seeks to make Bible Studies (students) then that mean that “The Bible” (a book) is the Teacher.
Why not say one seeks to make disciples or students of Christ rather than students of the Bible? Is this not what he directed? And, did he not identify himself as our ONLY Teacher at Matthew 23:8. (see John 13:13)
Then take them to their own official website at jw.org and show them that Christ is not featured anywhere on the website as Teacher or having teachings; but rather, the Bible is! In fact, at the very top menu there is a link that says “Bible Teachings.” (What about Christs Teachings?)
Also show them from their own website that the Bible receives far more mention than Christ himself. Is that not odd?
Do not let a JW dupe you into believing that the Bible and what Christ teaches are the same thing. That is not true. What all of what men call Christianity has done is that it has made a book that it compiled equal to Christ and they have also given it his exclusive title as The Word of God. No book by any name can be what The Son of God is: The Word of God.
The reason why Christianity has made a book what Christ is, is so that they can justify the evil that it has perpetrated upon the human family and to mislead it.
That is why so often you hear people say, “The Bible teaches this and that …” or “The Bible says this or that …” rather than saying “Christ teaches.”
For if they would teach what Christ taught exclusively and actually practiced what he taught, no mechanism or reference (The Bible) would be in place to justify the evil and Christianity has committed upon the human family and continues to do so. There would be no condemnation and judging of others, no intolerance or hatred.
It is a very easy thing to consult “The Bible” and find examples of mass destruction and then say, “You see, they did it in the Bible so it must be OK?” Yet, who was it that The Most High God said we are to listen to? A book, religious organizations or His Son? (Luke 9:35)
I know from my experiece as a JW for many years, the organization and the leadership that sits on top of it are revered, almost deified. Let word that a Circuit or District Overseer is visiting a congregation, JWs in those congregations get nervous because they know that they are going to be inspected.
These inspections involve examination of each members “service record” which will show whether or not they are having a “full share” in the field ministry. Individual JWs are sized up as being spiritual weak or strong based on what is written down on their service report and meeting attendance. If one is targetted as being “spiritually weak,” certain steps must be taken to get them in line. It is all about keeping one controlled mentally and not allowing them to venture outside the high walls the WTBTS keeps them in.
Yet, by showing a JW that Christs title of “The Word of God” has been shared with a book called the Bible is blasphemous. There cannot be two “Word of God.”
A JW will be the first to articulate that there is only one God (and they are correct in that). So ask them, why do you believe that there are TWO Words of God: The Bible and Christ? And the Bible is the one that is “The Teacher?”
In your discussions with JWs be polite, respectful and cordial. You give them fodder if you burst in fits of anger and yelling. Be calm, collected and in control of yourself at all times.
Two JW Elders visited me a while back and we engage in a one hour or so discussion over the 1914 date teachings. Initially they did not know that I was a long-time JW until one of them asked me if I had ever studied with JWs. I let them both know that I had been a baptized JW for almost 30 years.
One of the Elders was very polite and asked why I was no longer a JW. I told him I disassociated myself from the WTBTS – among other things – over the 1914 teaching as I believe it to be false and against what Christ taught about no one knowing when he would return. This Elder I felt was sincerely polite and understanding and even said that I present solid Scriptural support of that view and that he would have to look deeper into it.
The other Elder was actually showing signs of being upset at me and the other Elder.
He asked me whether I believed that the WTBTS was God’s Earthly Organization. I answered, “No.”
“Well, I can assure you that it is.” the Elder said.
I said to him, “How can YOU give me that assurance?”
The Elder turned bright red because the statement he made was basically for me to take his word for it. He could not give an assurance and neither could he lift from Scripture where their would be an earthly organization that God would use preach a Good News message to all of the world.
Before they were about to leave I let them both know that they have a problem to resolve concerning the 1914 teaching and what Christ said at Matthew 24:36, Matthew 24:42 and Acts 1:7.
That each time they speak of and teach others 1914, those three utterances of Christ stare back at them. I said to them: “What are YOU going to do about it? Continue to teach 1914 inspite of what Christ said?”
I let them know that it might be a relatively easy task to speak to persons who are aware (naked) to the truth. But it will not be an easy task for persons such as myself. That I MUST obey what Christ has stated about times and seasons and nobody knowing when he would return. “Would YOU want me to disobey Christ?
The one Elder said, “No, you should obey him. I applaud your resolve to do that.”
I thanked them both for the visit. The other apparently disgrunted Elder as he exited out the door turned and said to me, “This is God’s Earthly organization.”
I looked him in the eye, smiled and said, “So YOU say?” He was obviously very upset.
I greeted them both, “Good evening.”
I know the feeling the one Elder was going through. Deep down inside you want to believe it, but there is something gnawing at you that places an element of uncertainty upon it. You have no concrete proof! And, that is what is frustrating. No matter how many times one repeats it to themselves, that uncertainty is still there.
Most JWs deal with uncertainty and doubt by enabling one another with the intoxicating drink (teachings) of the WTBTS as they come down to them via the organizations many publications.
Meeting attendance and assemblies are powerful “group dynamic” mechanisms that further enable the mindset of the JW that they are in the right place and in “the truth.”
Yes, most JWs sincerely believe what they believe as do persons in the many denominations of the religious system of Christianity. But sincerity in ones belief does not mean that they are in line with what Christ taught.
What I see in all of the religious systems of Christianity is the way they keep their members intact. It is by rituals, keep rules and regulations and the threat of being “cast out” if one deviates from the program.
All also have the threat of either being eternally tormented or eternally destroyed (loss of eternal life) if they do not join them.
All have a privileged class: Those who go to heaven and those who do not. Christ taught that no human has ever gone to heaven and never will. (John 3:13)
If one thinks about it, why would anyone want to go up to heaven if God’s kingdom is coming down to the earth.
They all portray what cannot be seen and what they have NEVER seen – God, Christ, Angels, Adam, Eve, etc – in the likness of one race among the human family.
Truth is truth. But what I just stated, many do not want to hear or deal with. But it is the truth.
There are those who believe I play the race card. Not at all. The race card has already been played and not by me but by those who have arrogated themselves to portray and promote God and Christ and others in this manner. Entire religious organizations that make up persons of all races yet its leadership is either a White man, all White men, or predominately White men. I am simply calling them out and asking, “Why would you do that and why would you want me to accept it without question to you?
That the religious system called by men – Christianity – does not want any to question, challenge, investigate or examine (test) it is what is most disturbing of all.