Colourful booklets and smart attire make it easy for the person on the other side of the spyhole to figure out that the pair standing outside the door is a Jehovah’s Witness team. I had the chance to walk into a kingdom hall yesterday and picked up their tract “What the Bible Really Teaches” (all 200 pages of it). Paging through it, one is immediately presented with the name Jehovah; packaged as the way to get near to God. “If you want someone to get to know you, what might you do? Would you not tell the person your name?” they ask in – what I believe for the vast majority is – utmost sincerity.
Of course, it’s easy to get lost when speaking to a member of the Watchtower society in arguing over the various truths they distort or deny (hell, the Trinity, the person of Jesus and who goes to heaven are obvious ones). So the question we want to ask is: How do we present the gospel to these very genuine individuals without destroying their beliefs?
The answer that presented itself to me in the first few pages of this book was in answering the question that they themselves pose, “Can you be close to Jehovah?”. I recall asking a friendly lady how I could be close to God, her response was that the first step was to know His name. Suppose I rather pose the question to my friend, “What is it that separates us from God?”. The answer that I can give from Scripture is found in Isaiah 59:1-2 and I’ll quote their New World Translation, “Look! The hand of Jehovah has not become too short that it cannot save, nor has his ear become too heavy that it cannot hear. 2 No, but the very errors of YOU people have become the things causing division between YOU and YOUR God, and YOUR own sins have caused the concealing of [his] face from YOU to keep from hearing.“.
So ultimately, whether I call God “YHWH”, “Jehovah”, “Father” or something else, it’s not what I call God that will separate me from Him, I am already separated and it’s because of my sin. So again, I can pose their question “Can you [or, I] be close to Jehovah?”. At this point I want to answer emphatically that even though I have disagreed with them, I do think that the answer is a resounding “yes!” And the Bible makes it clear, John 14:6-7 tells us, “Jesus said to him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If YOU men had known me, YOU would have known my Father also; from this moment on YOU know him and have seen him.”” [NWT].
The way we get to the Father is through Jesus. It’s not by knowing a name, it’s not by doing good works (c.f. Ephesians 2:8-9); it’s by God’s grace. So if from the outset you have in mind that Jesus is the only way of salvation and that His death as God on the cross is what makes that salvation possible, you can direct conversation and discussion along these lines and present the gospel hopefully out of the questions that they raise. You will notice that I have quoted from the NWT, I have done this because Jehovah’s Witnesses are unlikely to trust anything that comes from you anyway. If you read from their literature and their copy of the Bible (as distorted as it may be) you will create a common ground on which you can speak the gospel which cannot be constrained even by the NWT.
Quotations from the NWT are taken from:
The Tract that I quoted is called
- What Does the Bible Really Teach