While I was working as a pastor for Mission Hills Church a man had an urgent need to speak with me. His wife had become close friends with some Jehovah’s Witness co-workers and was now considering joining their religion. He was desperate and wanted help in showing his wife the truth of Christianity. I told him I was comfortable doing that and it would be my pleasure to meet his wife.
The following Friday I got a call from him that his wife wanted me to meet at their house with them and with a Jehovah Witness to present to other side. I told him this would not be a good situation. I knew this debate would only bring contentious dialogue. He then said these were her terms and either the Jehovah’s Witness came by himself or I joined in on the conversation. So I told him I would do it.
I have to tell you this is outside my comfort zone. I spent the whole weekend getting ready for our Monday evening debate. I especially spent time on John 1:1 because she specifically wanted answers to this scriptural problem of whether Jesus was “God” or “a god.” Fortunately for me I had just finished my second semester of a doctrinal class at Biola University (working on my MA in apologetics) and we had spent a couple days discussing John 1:1. God’s timing was incredible! Armed with lots of prayer and preparation I felt ready.
Monday 6pm came and I entered the house. To my surprise there were two Jehovah’s Witnesses. Both were dressed in their normal coat and tie attire and their books were on the table ready to put my answers to the test. Yet, I felt confident armed with prayer from the husband and others.
After introductions we began the debate. I volunteered to go first. This was a big mistake for the two Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have read and listened to many debates and some debate tactics. One the strongest strategies is to go first. You set the table for what is about to follow. You make them play by your rules and you can decide the direction of the debate.
I began by showing how the Trinity is Biblical. I defined the Trinity as one God subsists in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; co-equal and co-eternal. I then established three following key Biblical truths with scriptures: 1) there is only 1 God, 2) Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct persons, and finally, 3) each person is God. If the Bible teaches these truths then the Doctrine of the Trinity is established.
Knowing the Jehovah’s Witnesses favorite anti-Trinitarian scriptures, I then used them to explain how the Trinity solves some difficult passages. Once you understand the doctrine you can grasp how the Son in human Flesh could say the Father is greater. The Father is greater in position because Jesus humbled himself to become a man. It was also acceptable for Jesus to call the Father “My Father and My God,” because of His equal relationship with the Father. Jesus in human flesh was not an atheist and submitted himself to the Father. Plus in John 5:17-18, when Jesus used the words “my Father,” the Jews interpreted that to making himself equal with God the Father. I continued through all their best arguments against the Trinity.
After I finished my opening remarks they began to make their case. Each time they brought up a scripture against my position, I simply said, “Don’t you remember, I dealt with that passage in my opening statement. That verse is consistent with a correct understanding of the Trinity.” They soon became frustrated.
We debated for 2 hours spending 30 minutes on John 1:1 alone. Finally, the wife called the debate to an end and had these words to say; “I would like to thank all of you for coming here to express your views. I now know what I believe to be true and I am comfortable with these words, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and THE WORD WAS GOD!” Hallelujah truth had won out. God had used me as an ambassador to communicate His Word. Her husband had tears of joy. The Jehovah’s Witnesses left the house graciously but dejected.
I did not succeed because I was smarter than these individuals. Bottom line it is easier to defend truth than it is error. Christianity is a systematic belief system; everything has to work together. A straight line of dominoes could be thought of as key doctrines. They all Biblically stand together because our beliefs build off one another. However, if you make an error on one of these beliefs then they all fall down, like dominoes. This is why I was successful. These men had to defend doctrines that crash into each other and fall down because they have the wrong Jesus.
Most of you will never be asked to be in a situation like this debate. God used my gifts and talents in a special way. Each of us has been shaped and equipped in a unique manner to be an ambassador for Christ in your sphere of influence. I will reach some people you will never reach and you will reach people for Christ that I could never reach. This is why God has Christians come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, personalities, and intellectual capabilities. Non-Christians come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and God wants to use each of us in our unique way. However, He still wants us to be able to give an answer to everyone who asks for the reason for the hope, doing this with gentleness and respect.
I will end this series here. I have so much more to say about the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their organization and will do so in another series. I feel I have provided enough information to assist you in sharing with the Witness at your door. For additional study the following web sites and books I have found helpful.
- Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses by Ron Rhodes (my favorite)
- Why You Should Believe in the Trinity by Robert Bowman (Answers the booklet with a similar name by Watchtower Organization)
- Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem (Great chapter on the Trinity)
- http://irr.org/ (Solid site for both JW and Mormonism)
- http://carm.org/ (My favorite site for JW information)
- http://www.watchtower.org/ (Official site of the Watchtower. Good for source material and for cutting & pasting from their NWT Bible.)