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Helping Jehovah’s Witnesses Get the Picture

Jehovah’s Witnesses want you to live forever with them in paradise on earth. To entice you into accepting their offer of a “free home Bible study”, they will show you brightly colored pictures of idyllic garden scenes, beautiful lakeside homes and children romping with lions. The Jehovah’s Witness will ask: “Wouldn’t you like to live in conditions like these?”

Begin by Asking Questions

If you respond positively to the pictures, you may be in for a scripture-studded lecture on their prophetic interpretation. Why not turn this into an opportunity to help the JW to think critically about his own beliefs? How can you do this? Focus on the details of the illustration. Help the JW to see that the Watchtower artist is not giving him the whole picture. Here are some questions you might ask the JW about his illustrations:

• Do the houses have electricity? Where is the power plant? Who works at the power plant? Who works at the copper mine to mine the copper to make the electric wire. Of course, a copper mine is not such a pretty sight as what is in your picture. But it has to be somewhere.

• The people are wearing shoes right? Made of what? I assume leather. Who has the job of skinning animals and tanning hides?

• Are there glass windows in the houses? What about mirrors? Who works in the glass factory?

• The houses appear to be made of wood. And they are not log cabins. So there has to be a lumber mill somewhere, with the machinery to mill the wood. This means metal has to be produced. In fact, it implies existing steel production. So where is the smelter? Who works in the iron mines and steel mills?

Effective Conversation

You might say to the JW:

This is a pretty picture on the surface. It appeals to fleshly desires. But the Bible tells us to keep our sights on heaven, not on earth. (Read these scripture with the JW: 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10; Colossians 3:1-3; Philippians 3:17-21.) Ask: What do these scriptures mean to you?

Or:

I do believe in paradise. What makes paradise paradise to me (or to any real Christian) is the presence of the Lord. The Church is the bride of Christ and so she is not concerned so much with where she will be as with who she will be with. The hope of Christians is not focused on a place; it is focused on a person. How would you describe your relationship with Christ?

Jehovah’s Witnesses are in a cult, forbidden by their leaders from asking critical questions about what they are taught. You can help them by asking the questions they are not allowed to ask. While figuring out how to answer you, they have to come to grips with the illogic and inconsistencies of their own beliefs. This way of handling them can often be more effective than directly confronting their errors.

Along with advertising paradise, the JWs cultivate a dismally negative view of current world conditions. You might try gently to confront them with a more realistic assessment of current events.

If they discuss crime and violence with you, try reasoning like this:

I think most people would agree that there are many problems in the world and that some of the problems are getting worse. Sometimes though, when people discuss the state of things, they do so lacking any solid historical framework for what they say. For example, it is common to hear people decry the increase of crime and violence in our society. This is a very real problem. There are many people alive today who can remember a time when they felt safe on the streets at night or leaving their doors unlocked, but no more. For these people, (and I am one) there is the subjective experience of crime getting worse. But this is only in the context of my own lifetime or in the context of this century. If we look at the whole sweep of the history of western civilization we see something different. We live in relatively safe times compared to many others in history. It is only the significant amount of security which we had because of living in an extraordinarily Christian America during much of the 20th century that we view such things as robbery, roving gangs of thugs on the streets, and violence against women as so terribly unusual.

Get to Know Them

If they draw you into a discussion about economics, hunger or poverty, you might point out the following:

It is true that there are more hungry people than ever, and more unemployed, there are simply more people. You would have to check the statistics by percentages to know if the problem is truly worsening. As with the food shortages, the problem of drinkable water for the earth’s poor is really a problem of development. Think about it, where do people have water to drink and food to eat? It is in the developed countries. Economic development is needed in the poorer countries so the basic needs of the people can be met. This is why so many of the Christian missions to developing countries are concerned with providing the materials and training which will encourage education and economic development. What kind of missions programs does your church do?

You never see a school, clinic or hospital built or run by Jehovah’s Witnesses. The charitable impulse of the individual JW has been hijacked by the organization and channeled into unpaid labor as a magazine and book salesman. Poor and ailing JWs themselves depend upon the charity of Christians. You can focus attention on what is going on in your own community by offering local examples:

There are many Christians engaged in feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, aiding the sick and providing housing for the homeless. They do this in obedience to Christ. Habitat for Humanity is a good example of this. So are the Good Samaritan centers in so many communities that provide emergency food and other necessities, as well as Crisis Pregnancy Centers which prevent abortions and give assistance to young women in desperate circumstances. I can’t help but think that this is an approach to the problems of the world which is much more beneficial than spending the resources and time to print and distribute literature bemoaning the problem. What has your church done for the community?

Jehovah’s Witnesses are convinced that we are living in the “last days”. We need to let them know that this is hardly an understanding that is unique to them:

I don’t have a problem believing that we are living in the last days. Every generation of Christians has believed this. As long as we don’t make the fatal mistake of setting dates for the end of the world, it is in harmony with Jesus’ instructions to his disciples to be living in eager expectation of his return. And I do!

Be kind and gracious to the JWs. If you have the time, invite them in and offer them refreshment. Try to get to know them. There are as many ex-JWs in the United States as there are current members. When they have become disillusioned from the Watchtower’s false prophecies and exhausted by the organization’s demands, they will be badly in need of genuine friends. Perhaps God will grant to you to be that friend!

(© 2012 Mary Kochan)


Mary Kochan, former Senior Editor of CatholicExchange, is Editor-at-Large  of CatholicLane.com.

Raised as a  third-generation Jehovah's Witness, Mary worked her way backwards through the Protestant Reformation to enter the Catholic Church on Trinity Sunday, 1996.  Mary has spoken in many settings, to groups large and small, on the topic of destructive cultism and has been a guest on both local and national radio programs. To arrange for Mary to speak at your event, you may contact her at kochanmar@gmail.com.

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  • The last JW to come to my apartment was a young woman with a little girl in tow. When I opened the door, she immediately asked me, “Who do you say Jesus is?” And I replied, “Jesus is the Son of God.” She said that was a good answer and wanted to share some information with me. I saw her tracts and that she was a JW, and I began mentally steeling myself for a serious discussion.

    Then out of the clear blue she asked if this was a bad time for me (I was restraining my dog who was having a conniption) and could she come back later. I said sure she could come back.

    This was several months ago, and no one has been back. Do you suppose she seriously intended to come back, but I got lost in the shuffle? I’ve never heard of a JW volunteering to leave.

  • Tarheel

    Thank you Mary. I am going to forward the link to this article to friends of mine and print it out for those that don’t subscribe to email.

  • Phillip Ramirez

    Funny… A Catholic attempting to use scripture. I’ll believe that when I see it.

    • Alfred Marquez

      Funny… the Watchtower July 15, 2011 page 16 paragraph 7 prohibits you from posting comments on these websites… yet here you are, completely disregarding the counsel of 7 delusional men in Brooklyn who call themselves your Governing Body… Go back to making your cheezy commercials and stop being such a narcissistic arrogant idiot.

      • Phillip Ramirez

        It’s truly sad to see how you selectively pick what life-saving spiritual information from the Governing Body you choose to value, Alfred. Thank you for reminding me to stick with Jehovah’s organization by recommending I re-read that article… truly faith-strengthening!

        • Alfred Marquez

          But here you are, yet again… disregarding the counsel of the 7 narcissistic morons in Brooklyn …

        • Alfred Marquez

          3 weeks of silence. That means only one thing. You’ve been thoroughly schooled… or they took you into the back room (you know… the one where JW parents smack around their crying children during meetings)… check mate…

        • Alfred Marquez

          3 weeks of silence. That means only one thing. You’ve been thoroughly schooled… or they took you into the back room (you know… the one where JW parents smack around their crying children during meetings)… check mate…

          • Phillip Ramirez

            Actually, I realized that someone like you, who has resorted to stalking me online beyond these posts, has much deeper issues than my simply being one of Jehovah’s Witneses. Internet stalkers usually have an extremely perverted sense of right and wrong. You show those traits, so common sense told me to simply walk away. If that gives your ego the boost to believe it’s truly checkmate, then so be it.

          • Alfred Marquez

            Phillip. Phillip, Phillip. You’re way too easy and predictable… I knew my comment would suck you right back in…. You just have to get the last word in, don’t you? … like the typical arrogant JW that you are… even if that means totally disregarding the counsel of 7 delusional men in Brooklyn.

            By the way, my ego is perfectly intact, thank you very much. I’m not a washed up actor living in a Jacksonville ghetto… Check Mate….
            One last thing…. Are you posting comments on this site when you should be busy in Field Circus?? That’s grounds for disfellowshipping… Just saying…

          • Phillip Ramirez

            Well… it beats having YOUR career of beating a dead horse from your mother’s basement…

            Acts 18:6
            1 Pet. 4:4

          • Alfred Marquez

            After breaking all the rules of your own cult, you’re seriously trying to give me a Bible lesson now? That’s incredibly pathetic.

  • tasue

    Funny as I was raised a catholic … but I always felt that they didnt get it… so where did god put adam n eve…in a beautiful garden …he took care of them didnt he? Do you Think eventualky he would have lumber mills for houses or give his creation direction as he did noah and do youthink he would make coal mines for people to make glass for Windows… the problem here is …the bible says he created man to inhabit the earth and for humans to enjoyment The witnesses are teaching what Gods purpose for man kind is what is the catholic church teaching that we will fly around as angels doing What? I dont know about you but… I want to live forever on this beautiful thing called earth with its 2000 different types of melons and 7500 kinds of apples and over 8.7 million kinds of animals . I want to taste and learn about all these things. So maybe they do not know how God will do these things. but I dont think they are worried that. They have faith that God will take care of those things for them. Unlike adam and eve did.
    Are you saying God will have no control over there way of doing things and give them no guidance on what is best for them and the earth. Careful because that was what satan said!

    • Mary Kochan

      tasue, thank you for your question. Not making any fun of what you said but I think that you are the one who “didn’t get it” — because it is not Catholic teaching that ” we will fly around as angels”. I have to say that YOU didn’t get it because IF you really were raised Catholic and you went to Mass, you at least heard, if not said, the creed over and over with the words, “I believe in the resurrection of the body.” So now the JWs have told you that Catholics think humans will fly around in the clouds like angels or just be bodiless souls for all eternity. Well that is just one more thing the JWs lie about. Now you are talking to a person who KNOWS the JW beliefs AND the Catholic beliefs, while you yourself know only the JW beliefs, but are basically clueless about what Catholics believe.

      So, my friend, keep hanging around here and learn what Catholics believe. That is the only real way to make a comparison.

      Your question about God controlling what is done on earth is bogus. The problem is not with me thinking God CAN’T. Of course HE can. The problem is that “everlasting life” on earth is NOT God’s ultimate purpose for human beings. And you don’t know what a human being is.

  • Guy McClung

    I have a pile of pamhlets and print outs etc near my front door which present Catholic teaching-some of them designed purposefully to look just like JW tracts. When they arrive, I speak kindly and then when they offer their publications I agree to accept them and read them if they will in return accept mine. They never – that is NEVER – will agree to the exchange. Sauce for the goose and the JW and all that aside. And then a funny thing happens-I see them weeks or months later back in the neighborhood and they clearly avoid my house. I think they have a secret mark. The Mormons are totally different and mostly totally enjoyable down to earth good folk who listen to all my questions about Joe Smith’s wife getting the Church Law prohibiting smoking “revealed” to their prophet when the meetings below their living quarters were getting smelly since most of the men smoked. The Mormons always appreciate my wife’s cooking, coffee, and in Texas summers, iced tea. Imagine all the forehead slapping and “Well I’ll be darned! at the Last Judgment whey everyone finds out who is right. Guy McClung, San Antonio