Frustrated? Keep Trying!

Do you feel frustrated? Does it seem you are getting nowhere in your conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses? Why is this so often the case?

The most common situation involves the Christian who wants to teach true Christian doctrine to the JW and who therefore starts out trying to do that—explaining the Trinity doctrine, and so on—using the Bible. Sooner or later he notices that he is just spinning his wheels, getting nowhere. Why? Because he has left out some necessary steps. His efforts are comparable to trying to teach calculus without first teaching algebra and arithmetic. You can’t learn calculus without knowing algebra, and you can’t learn algebra without knowing arithmetic. The JW can’t learn Christian doctrine until he first sees that Watchtower doctrine is wrong. And he can’t learn that Watchtower doctrine is wrong until he first sees through the organization’s claim to divine authority as God’s spokesman.

If you don’t first prove the organization unreliable (documenting its false prophecies and back-and-forth changes) and then second reason verse-by-verse through the arguments the JW previously learned to support Watchtower doctrine, you can’t expect much success with the third step of teaching Christian doctrine from Scripture.

Still, even when a Christian follows the proper steps and presents the material effectively, a JW may simply appear to shrug off the evidence. Why?

For a number of reasons Jehovah’s Witnesses feel obligated to conceal any doubts or uncertainties they may have about their religion. First, of course, like all of us, they are handicapped by pride; we all hate to admit that we have been wrong. With JWs, however, there is much more at stake than wounded pride. They feel a strong obligation to bring you into “God’s organization” and do not want to undermine their efforts by admitting uncertainty on their part. Even if you have succeeded in introducing a few doubts into the JW’s mind, but he has not yet rejected the Watchtower organization, he doesn’t dare admit those doubts. It would spoil his efforts to convert you.

Suppose, however, that what you said has actually gotten the Jehovah’s Witness to question seriously whether he is in the true church. Will he admit to you that he has reached this stage? No! He cannot. He will still be afraid to express those thoughts before he has completely resolved the issue in his own mind. He knows that if he confesses his doubts to you, there is a possibility that this information about him may become public, and then he could be put on the spot by congregation elders—forced to declare himself either for or against the organization, before he has had the opportunity to fully explore the facts and reach a solid conclusion.

Therefore, don’t give up. Even if the Witness has an answer for everything you say, and your arguments appear to be having no effect, you may actually be making much more headway than you think. As long as a JW is willing to listen, there is reason to hope that what you are saying is having a good effect.

In fact, even when you have completely convinced the JW that the Watchtower Society is a false prophet, and he is absolutely certain that he now wants to stop following it and to become a follower of Jesus, he may still hesitate to admit this to you. Why? Because he or she may be faced with the problem of helping a marriage mate or close friends or relatives to reach the same conclusions. Any premature announcement could result in the elders disfellowshiping the Witness, cutting off communication with these loved ones and blocking efforts to help them.

Once he has become convinced that you are right and that his religion is wrong, a JW may be willing to confide in you, but only if absolutely convinced of your reliability in keeping the matter private—your willingness for him to become a secret disciple like Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea. This need for secrecy may continue for months or even years, while the Witness works at freeing loved ones he could not bear to leave behind.

In other situations a lack of progress in discussions with a Jehovah’s Witness may not be due to inadequacies in your presentation or the JW’s fear of admitting error. Sometimes the JW simply does not want to hear the truth, or, hearing it, does not want to receive it. People have free will and the ability to make choices. Of the thousands in Galilee, Judea, and Samaria who heard Jesus preach in person, how many became his disciples? How many ignored the message, or even became angry and hated him? So, can we expect to have better results than Jesus did? The fault may not lie with our message, but rather with hearers who have closed their ears and their hearts.

Christ knew who would respond to his message and who would not, because he could read their hearts. Since we cannot do that, we should keep trying. If you have been skipping essential steps in reasoning with JWs, go back to the beginning and start over. My book How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watchtower will help you to polish up your strategy and techniques and will give you material to use in undermining the sect’s authority (step #1, and my other book Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse will help you untangle twisted reasonings (step #2. As long as the JW is willing to listen, it is a matter of patience and perseverance on your part.

Don’t be discouraged by an apparent lack of progress. Breaking through to a Jehovah’s Witness is like tunneling through a mountain. There is no visible indication that the tunnel has almost broken through—just the same pitch black darkness until suddenly you break through into the light of day.

The Lord knows who will eventually respond and who will not. We continue His work of sowing seed on all sorts of soil, cultivating it to the best of our ability. And, especially as regards witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses, the words of Ecclesiastes 11:6 apply:

“In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.”

The JW who begins questioning and thirsting for truth may be forced to keep quiet about it for a while, and may not be able to encourage you with signs of progress, but when the time is ripe you will hear him praise the Lord!

Reed, D. A. (1997, c1996). Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses : Subject by subject (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

© 2010, Matt. All rights reserved.