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Why shouldn’t we?

Some ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses give a couple of reasons.

First, Jehovah’s Witnesses are trained to discuss doctrines and most Christians are not. This is especially the case regarding Watchtower teachings with which most Christians are unfamiliar—Jesus’ “invisible presence” since 1914, a two-class salvation system (144,000 going to heaven, the great crowd remaining on earth), refusal to celebrate birthdays and holidays, and the like.

Many articles on my blog are written in order to educate readers about these matters so they will know what the Watchtower teaches and learn how to respond.

A second reason given for avoiding doctrinal discussions with Witnesses is that they believe what the Watchtower says the Bible means rather than what it actually says.

In his book, How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watchtower, David Reed gives an example of the problem. He had a Jehovah’s Witnesses read aloud Revelation 19:1: “After these things I heard what was as a loud voice of a great crowd in heaven.”

He stopped her and asked, “So where is the ‘great crowd’?”

She answered, “On earth.”

He asked her to reread the verse and she gave the same answer.

He had her read out the word “heaven.”

She said, “It says ‘heaven,’ but the ‘great crowd’ is on earth. You don’t understand. We have men at our headquarters in… New York who explain the Bible to us. And they can prove that the ‘great crowd’ is on earth. I just can’t explain it that well.”[1]

Reed comments that Jehovah’s Witnesses read the Bible through “Watchtower-colored glasses” and concludes that “the first step in your strategy must be to remove those distorted lenses. To accomplish this, you will have to get the Witnesses to look at the Watchtower organization itself. You will need to demonstrate that the leaders have made repeated false prophecies, have changed doctrines back and forth, and have misled followers to their harm—that is they are not a reliable guide to follow. The Witness will then be forced to think for himself or herself; in effect, the Watchtower-covered glasses will be removed.”[2]

My own experience is that—despite the Watchtower’s indoctrination process—each Jehovah’s Witness is unique. An approach that works well with one Witness has no impact at all on another Witness.

Sometimes Reed’s approach works well and sometimes it is counterproductive. No matter how tactful we try to be, some Witnesses view exposure to the Watchtower’s errors and changed teachings as persecution and refuse to discuss the matter further.

For this reason, I do often discuss doctrine with Witnesses without first trying to discredit the Watchtower organization. In the case of the woman Reed referred to, since the Watchtower claims to go strictly by the Bible, the fact that is says “earth” where the Bible clearly says “heaven” should trouble her greatly.

 Of course, it’s not automatic. As human beings, we are often reluctant to admit to ourselves that we are wrong, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. In the case of this woman, I would be praying that God would open her eyes to the fact that the Bible contradicts Watchtower teaching.

Many of my blog articles do focus on doctrine. I try to give you approaches designed to help you get through to the Witnesses.

I agree with Reed that one of our main challenges is to find ways to get Witnesses to think for themselves instead of parroting back Watchtower dogma and arguments. I try to do this by coming at topics in ways the Witnesses won’t expect. The goal is to get them out of their prepared presentations so they will have to rely on themselves rather than on their Watchtower training.

I try to be very pragmatic. I recommend trying a number of different approaches—some doctrinal, some organizational, some historical—recognizing that no single approach works with everyone.

We also need to be realistic and realize that no matter what we do, we can’t get through to every Jehovah’s Witness. The good news is that, working together, we can get through to some of them, maybe even a lot of them.

In all our efforts, we need to rely heavily on prayer. We need to pray for wisdom as to what approach to use. We need to pray that God will open the eyes and hearts and minds of each Witness with whom we interact. Ultimately, only the Holy Spirit can get through to any of us and convey truth that leads to salvation.


Your turn:

In your experience, does one particular approach work better than others at getting through to Jehovah’s Witnesses?

Share your thoughts in the comments.


[1] David A. Reed, How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watchtower (Baker Book House, 1989), pp. 28-29

[2] Ibid., p. 29