Uh, Sure I’ll take your magazines…

11 Jun

Jehovah’s Witnesses are pleasant people as far as I’m concerned. In our neighborhood they come by on a regular basis and I alternate between talking to them, taking their magazines and saying “thanks”, and just saying “no thanks.” (Once I just sat very still and waited for them to leave).

Part of the reason I don’t engage with them every time is that they have been coached to answer all the standard concerns with their understanding of who Jesus is and what the New Testament has to say about following Him. Another factor is that some of the key verses of scripture relating to this topic have been erroneously translated by the JW’s in their “New World Translation.”

Knock and the door shall be opened to you…if I’m home and not busy.

Saturday I was outside testing a pneumatic air canon that I made for shooting confetti at soccer games when a few guys approached, magazines in hand. (If you’re not familiar with JW’s they carry two magazines which feature their take on relevant issues of the day…I made confetti out of mine). I simply said “Gentlemen, I appreciate you, but I know that we happen to have a very significant disagreement about who Jesus is.” One of them asked me who I thought he was and I responded he is God the Son, who along with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit comprise the Trinity.

We spent the next 10 minutes going back and forth, not making any progress of course. Despite having recently posted about using questions to drive these types of conversations I found myself making tons of assertions and then trying to defend myself. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this, it just wasn’t effective.

Using questions I could have driven the conversation and not gotten stuck. Instead of leading the way I did, I might have just said “thanks for the magazines. Can you give me a quick summary about what they have to say about who Jesus is?” Then I could have asked some questions about their assertions.

I had two other thoughts after reflecting on my encounter which I’ll write about in my next two posts:

1)      I don’t have a lot of rock solid references for Jesus’ divinity on the tip of my tongue. I can make the case, but I generally just assume that people understand that Jesus claimed to be divine.

2)      It’s really important to know who you’re speaking with. JW’s have a very different understanding (and therefore need) than the average skeptic who also differs greatly from the average person who thinks there is a God out there but doesn’t know much about that God. How we converse with these folks needs to reflect what will be most beneficial for them to hear.

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