It’s Saturday and the door bell rings. Voila! Its your local Watch Towerites with their colourful tracts and booklets. Not to mention you had prepared to take them down on their own turf but forgot to read up and get ready for this round of theological gymnastics. So are these bunch of ever smiling, (walking in pairs) religious troops really Christians or something else? How do I witness to them? I am glad you asked…
Jehovah’s Witnesses say they are the only true Christians, but they are neither Protestant nor Catholic. The fundamental doctrinal issue that distinguishes them from orthodox Christianity is the Trinity. They say it is a pagan teaching, but they misrepresent it, saying that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit must be three gods. They actually agree with the Trinity doctrine when it says that the Father and the Son are two Persons, but imagine they need to prove this to Trinitarians! They fail to grasp how the three Persons comprise the One Being of God, and so they come up with the idea of a Big God and a little god – two gods. They say Jesus was created (Arianism) and was Michael the archangel and that Jesus’ body was not resurrected; it simply disappeared and He rose as a spirit creature. They say the Holy Spirit is not a person but is Jehovah’s active force or energy.
Because they say that Jesus is a demi-god, their understanding of salvation and atonement is wrong. They say Jesus, who was a perfect Man, died only to atone for the sin of Adam and that when we die, our death pays the penalty of our own sin. Only some 10,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses today can possibly claim to be born-again and have a heavenly hope. The rest say they don’t want to go to heaven to be with the Lord but they want to live forever on a paradise earth (Restorationism). They believe if they remain faithful and obedient till the end of the Millennial Reign of Christ Jesus, they will ‘earn the right to be declared righteous’ and that’s why they have to keep on striving, with no assurance of salvation. Only today’s ‘remnant’ of the 144,000 can say they are in the new covenant, and that Christ Jesus is their mediator. All must be obedient to the leaders (the Watchtower Society and its Governing Body) if they wish to survive Armageddon. To disagree with what they say is to disagree with Jehovah because He uses them as His sole channel of communication to dispense ‘the truth.’ Only they saw ‘with spiritual eyes of discernment’ that Christ Jesus started to rule from heaven in 1914, an invisible ‘second presence.’ Also, they say Christ Jesus will never return to earth, but will remain in heaven, there to rule with the 144,000 over the earth.
With all these unbiblical beliefs, where does one begin to witness to a Jehovah’s Witness? There is only one place to begin—with the person of Christ Jesus, whose deity is the foundation of Christianity. Jehovah’s Witnesses are unable to grasp the significance of Jesus’ death and why they must be born again in order to have their sins forgiven. Before they can put all their trust in the finished work of Christ Jesus, they have to understand they are not saved, which means they are presently lost in their sin. No Witness has the assurance of salvation which is the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who belong to the Father through Christ (Romans 8:16). The full deity of Jesus Christ can only be revealed to them by the Holy Spirit, who they relegate to commodity status, like electricity. To the Witnesses, the Holy Spirit is a “thing,” not a Person.
Witnessing to the Witnesses must be done in Christian love and with compassion. Remember, they have been deceived and believe a false gospel, yet many have a genuine love for God and are utterly sincere in their beliefs. Do not be afraid of them (1 John 4:17-19), but let them know how much you care about their eternal salvation. Share your Christian testimony with them. Invite them into your home, but do not allow them to conduct what they describe as a Bible study, which is actually a study of their literature. Be aware they will not read any non-Watchtower literature or attend a church service. They say they will only accept what the Bible says, but their New World Translation has been drastically altered to reflect their theology, and every reference in the New Testament to the deity of Christ Jesus has been removed. It always comes as a surprise to them to meet people who love the Lord, display the fruit of the Spirit, and use the Bible as the basis for their faith (Hebrews 4:12). Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Direct all your conversation to the person of Christ and the need to put total faith in what He has done. Do not allow them to lead you down the path they wish you to take, namely, considering how you can survive Armageddon to live on a paradise earth. This is not the gospel. Above all else, pray for them.
Excerpt from Witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses- What is the key? [HT Got Questions]
Additional resources at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministries (CARM).