When Wilbur Lingle was pastoring a church in Japan, Jehovah’s Witnesses began converting some members of his congregation. He engaged the Witnesses in conversation himself but made little progress as he tried to reason with them on various doctrinal issues.
After hearing the testimonies of a number of ex-Witnesses, Lingle came to the conclusion that the most effective approach would be to focus on the unreliability of the Watchtower organization. He states, “As I continued to deal with as many J.W.’s as possible, I kept coming up with more thought-provoking questions to ask the Witnesses concerning the Watchtower organization.” (p. 11)
Consequently, although the book explains many doctrinal differences between the Watchtower and biblical Christianity, Lingle’s witnessing method centers on asking Witnesses about the workings of the Watchtower organization and the implications of many of its unique teachings rather than showing the reader how to engage them directly on doctrinal issues.
Approaching Jehovah’s Witnesses in Love contains the following chapters:
Chapter 1: An Overview
Chapter 2: The Initial Contact
Chapter 3: How to Begin
Chapter 4: The History of the Watchtower Movement
Chapter 5: The Contrast Between Biblical Christianity and Watchtower Beliefs
Chapter 6: By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them
Chapter 7: Questions to Ask Jehovah’s Witnesses
Chapter 8: How to Lead the Witness to Christ
Chapter 9: What If the Witness Insists on a Bible Study?
Chapter 10: The Final Step
Appendix I: How to Use Watchtower Literature Effectively in Witnessing
Appendix II: Basic Christian Doctrines Explained
Appendix III: Mind-Control Tactics
Appendix IV: Additional Helps in Witnessing to a Jehovah’s Witness
Appendix V: How to Order Additional Source Material
Special Insert: Questions to Ask Jehovah’s Witnesses
In my mind, the strengths of Lingle’s book are the things you can’t find in other sources.
One of the most interesting features of this book is Chapter 7: Questions to Ask Jehovah’s Witnesses. The author suggests a large number of questions, lists responses he has heard from Witnesses, and offers suggestions for how to rebut them. The special insert in the back of the book lists the questions themselves without all the detailed analysis.
The insert contains more than 100 questions, organized by topic. Here are a few examples:
Concerning the Watchtower’s claim that Jehovah has always had an organization:
“Question: Where did the organization (“Mother”) move to after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.? You teach that the organization in the book of Acts was the true church. You use Acts 15 to say that the organization is supposed to give commands to the church. What happened to this organization after the fall of Jerusalem?” (Insert, pp. 3-4)
“Question: You mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses will live through this horrible disaster, witnessing these people being killed, and will have to listen to the blood-curdling screams as people die in agonizing pain? (Insert, p. 7)
Concerning Paying for Sins
“Question: According to the Society, people pay for their sins when they die, since ‘the wages of sin is death.’ (Rom. 6:23). These people will get a fresh start on the new earth because they have paid for their sins. However, the Witnesses who survive Armageddon will not have died, so they will not have paid for their sins. How will these Witnesses pay for their sins?” (Insert, p. 11)
Concerning New Light
“Question: Would you please explain the process—how this ‘new light’ comes down from God and is received by the men on the governing body.” (Insert, p. 12)
Another interesting feature of the book is Appendix III: Mind-Control Tactics. The author lists and describes 24 of them. He also offers suggestions for countering them in your encounters with Witnesses.
When any author presents a witnessing approach, there’s a danger that he will come across as professing to offer a foolproof system. Just follow all the steps and watch the Witnesses get saved. I’m sure Lingle agrees that it’s the Holy Spirit, not any system devised by man, that brings people to salvation. Nonetheless, I found that I had to keep reminding myself of this as he stressed all the positives of his methods.
Because Jehovah’s Witnesses often come across as self-assured to the point of arrogance, when asking them unexpected questions it’s easy to develop the wrong motive. We can focus on asking “gotcha” questions with the payoff being the satisfaction of having stumped the Witness. As Christians, we need to pray for a humble attitude and ask God to use our questions to help the Witnesses rather than simply to embarrass them.
Lingle’s book contains so many suggestions and recommended questions that it’s easy for the reader to get overwhelmed. Even with the aid of the special insert, there’s no way you can ask all those questions. What I recommend is that you find that questions that you believe will have the greatest impact and try some of them. If you find that you have made progress, don’t rush ahead with more questions. Stop and let the Holy Spirit work.
Do you think Lingle’s approach of asking the Witnesses unexpected questions about the Watchtower Society would be helpful?
Share your thoughts in the comments.