Well, the weather this weekend finally took a turn for the warmer, which means alot of great things…but also that the local Jehovah’s Witnesses are out knocking on doors again. Our house happens to be located quite close to the local Kingdom Hall, so we’ve been hit up a couple of times since our move here last September. So yesterday afternoon when the doorbell rang and I saw two men – an older one and a younger one – in suits, carrying briefcases and holding pamphlets in their hands, I knew what they were up to. Mark was in the next room, so I thought “What the heck, I’ll answer the door and engage them in some conversation”. For some reason, the prospect sort of excited and invigorated me (looking back, it probably should have scared me a bit more than it did — I really did not go into it very prepared!)…so I answered the door, and sure enough the older gentleman said hello, handed me a couple of Watchtower pamphlets, and asked if I would like to talk about the Bible. “Sure!”, I said (I wasn’t lying; I’d always like to talk about the Bible! :)). A very interesting, challenging, frustrating and saddening conversation ensued at the front door for about 20 minutes or so. I first made it clear that I was a Christian, and I knew a little bit about their religion, and that I believe they have a different Bible translation than I do. They skirted this (the man just said something like “Well, now we do, but we used to use the King James”). They then told me that many people consider themselves Christians, but are really just following traditions, not studying what the Bible really has to say. I assured him that I am definitely the kind of Christian that believes in studying what the Bible has to say. I asked them how they believed one obtains salvation, and he told me that it was because of Jesus’ death. I then asked them why they were going door to door, and if they didn’t, if they believed they were still going to heaven. His response was basically “Well, the Bible says that my obedience to God’s commandments is a sign of my faith. So if I don’t obey, then I don’t have faith, so no, I wouldn’t go to heaven.” He showed me some verses, completely out of context, to back this claim up. I asked him about the verse in Ephesians that says “It is by grace you have been saved…it is a gift of God, not by works, so no one can boast”. He responded with the same argument as before: “It is because of Christ that we have salvation…but we have to obey to show that we have faith, otherwise we won’t go to heaven” (Such a twisted view of the “faith without works is dead” concept!). I asked what sins Christ died to forgive them of then, and somehow this question never got answered. By this time Mark had joined me (it was so good having him there!!) and he tried to explain to them that obedience is a by-product of faith, not the means of it…but it was like talking to a blank wall. The man kept coming back at us with out of context verses from their edited Bible…he had clearly been so indoctrinated with such messed up interpretations of the Bible that the conversation was just going to go nowhere. Finally I just point blank told them I believed they were being misled, that salvation is through faith alone, we told them it was good talking to them, and that was that. Whew. What a draining – yet GOOD conversation to have.
The biggest thing I came away with is the realization that I need to know the Bible better. These guys may be a part of a freaky cult with a severely mangled version of the Bible – but they know their Bible backwards and forwards. I found myself frustrated as I tried to recall references to basic verses to share with them. I left with a great desire to memorize more and just spend more time studying the true Word of God.
I came away with a stronger faith. It is an odd feeling to have someone put you on the defensive, telling you you are wrong and trying to convert you to their religion…just not a position I find myself in alot these days! But what a great exercise, for someone like me, at least, to have to dig up everything you can think of to help give reasons for the faith that you have.
Finally, I came away with a desire to be better prepared for such situations. Today I did some research and found a website with some great background information on Jehovah’s Witnesses – truthnet.org. Wow, is that religion messed up…a cult in every sense of the word. I had no idea. These people are essentially being brainwashed and manipulated…so sad. Truthnet also has a great, step by step idea on how to respond to JWs at the door (by helping show how broken down the validity of their founding fathers was) as well as tips on how NOT to respond to them (apparently debating verses and doctrines with them never goes anywhere…wish I would have read that one before!).
Anyway, I encourage you all to check out that site – and if you get any JWs at your door, to try the tactic presented. Let me know if you have any luck!