I recommend that you try to get the Witnesses to lead you in a study of the New Testament book of Galatians. Why that particular book?
In the first century, teachers came to the Galatians claiming that a person had to keep the Old Testament law in order to be a Christian, or at least in order to please God as a Christian. Paul wrote the epistle of Galatians to refute this false gospel. Because the Watchtower system is highly legalistic, Galatians is a great book to study with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Don’t accuse the Watchtower of legalism, however. Rather, if the Witnesses ask you why you are recommending Galatians, you can say, “I’m certainly willing to study a different book, but Galatians is relatively short (6 chapters) as contrasted, say, with Romans or 1 Corinthians (16 chapters each).
If you study Galatians and cover one chapter every one or two weeks, your study will last 6-12 weeks. That’s a reasonable time commitment.
The Witnesses will expect to be the teachers in any study. They believe they are “in the truth” and you are in darkness, so they would consider it wrong for you to try to teach them anything.
Fine, let them be the teachers.
But make sure you start at the first verse and work your way through the book, taking turns reading aloud. Ask them to explain their understanding of what it means. Your role will be to ask appropriate questions. Don’t allow the Witnesses to switch to their usual practice of hopscotching the Bible from one place to another or from one book to another. Stick to the order in which the Bible book is written.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are trained to think in terms of individual proof texts rather than in terms of context. For this reason, by your questions and comments, keep drawing their attention to the main themes being covered in the portion of the book you are examining. By doing this, you will be modeling sound contextual Bible study.
Again, during the study, don’t accuse the Watchtower of legalism. Rather, as you study Galatians, keep asking the Witnesses to explain to you the overall context—the problems Paul is addressing and the main points he is making—and pray silently that God will reveal to them that Galatians condemns the same sort of false gospel of law on which the entire Watchtower system is based.
If you have been exposed to a different legalistic religion, you can describe your experiences. You can describe how that experience made you feel unworthy, never good enough, never knowing whether you had done enough.
Even though they won’t say so, the Witnesses will be able to relate to what you are telling them. The Watchtower religion has a never-ending list of organizational rules and regulations that Jehovah’s Witnesses supposedly must keep in order to prove worthy of everlasting life.
In this blog series, I will take you through the highlights of Galatians. I will show you particular topics and verses that are especially important in dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses. These are the passages about which you will want to ask the most questions and on which you will want to spend the most time.