Joehova's Witnessees and Muslims: How to be a Witness?

(Alexander Meier) #1

Hi everyone, I want to share an experience I had, giving context for a question for discussion.

So I was at a thing yesterday and ran across some Muslims who were at a booth and offering to talk to people, and they were next to JWs doing the same. I stopped and had a very productive, good, Spirit-lead conversation with the Muslims, but then when speaking with the JWs, it kinda got weird. First of all, I had the wrong attitude going into it, I don’t think the Spirit lead me to speak with them, and I approached them. That was my mistake in arrogance. But the conversation itself was frustrating. David, the JW, just kept saying that we agree about everything anytime I asked him a question, answered one of his, or challenged something he said with scripture. He just kept saying that we agree, and when I identified why we didn’t actually agree, he just said that we do but I’m hung up on a particular scripture. It was confusing. It wasn’t like what I’ve experienced in the past when JWs will just say that I’m wrong and then try to have a conversation about why. He was just saying that we agree, regardless of what was said.

But to make things worse, the Muslims with whom I had just had a very good conversation wanted to listen to this new conversation. That might have been fine, but I think it was incredibly confusing for them. And then, when the conversation shifted to me just being “hung up on something,” the Muslims joined in asking about why I drew a line on the JWs misinterpretation saying that they essentially differ from my beliefs. It became almost accusatory from the Muslims wanting me to accept the JWs. I was confused. I shifted my attention to the Muslims, affirming that I am not alone, speaking about how they actually DO have a changed bible (a criticism unfairly leveled against Christianity as a whole), and that their doctrines are not in agreement with the Bible at anything deeper than a surface-level. I wanted them to at least understand that we are actually different.

My question is two-fold: How can we better have a conversation identifying and clarifying essential differences between Christian doctrine and that of the JWs, both to them and to onlookers? Then, how do I respond when confronted with two opposing and contradictory beliefs sort of “ganging up?”

Is there any common ground they actually share other than being against traditional, core Christian values? What do you think?

(SeanO) #2

@AlexMeier Thank you for sharing your experience. I cannot speak from experience on this one, but after reflection here are some thoughts. I hope they are helpful in some way.

Witnessing to JWs

For JWs, people seem to recommend focusing on the deity of Christ and the Trinity. The Equip article actually warns against getting to deep into a Scriptural debate because it may just lead to confusion. The Gospel Coalition article suggests a simple, straightforward way to communicate Jesus’ deity. And the rest of the resources offer some good thoughts - Walter Martin’s book is a classic. CARM goes into more details about specific things JWs may say.

Equip Article on Witness to JWs

“a successful witnessing situation is one in which the JW is made to think”

“JWs are trained to use the Bible to twist you into a spiritual pretzel (in most cases, their New World Translation). That’s why most former JWs urge Christians to avoid discussing Scripture in depth until the JW is willing to deal with the Watchtower’s false prophecies and changing doctrines. JWs usually can’t accept what the Bible really says until they begin doubting the authority and veracity of the Watchtower.”

Desiring God Talk

CARM Resources for Understanding JWs

Witnessing to Two Groups of People

I actually think this is a common problem for speakers. An audience will often have people from different backgrounds and with different belief systems. Some very basic advice that I am sure you are already aware of is:

  • keep the main thing the main thing
  • identify any hurdles for the various groups in your audience and take a little time to address each
  • avoid illustrations that may be hard for people without your background to understand

In the case of Muslims and JWs, the main thing may be the deity of Christ and the centrality of the Gospel of grace through Jesus’ death and resurrection. I am honestly not sure, but I think that I personally would avoid attacking their beliefs and instead focus on exalting Christ and presenting clear Biblical arguments for who Jesus is and perhaps defending the authenticity of Scripture.

I couldn’t find the video, but I know Ravi has said before that he does not attack other faiths. Rather, he simply seeks to defends his own and exalts Christ. He finds that most effective and I think that would work best for a diverse audience.

May the Spirit of Christ grant you wisdom as you seek to be a witness for Him in love and truth.

Kendra Wilson
Jehovah Witnesses : How to approach?
(Alexander Meier) #3

Thank you for this. I read the same Gospel Coalition article after getting home. After prayer, I felt some conviction that I had screwed up but I don’t want to let that discourage me too much. I have had many good and productive conversations about Christ in a variety of contexts with people from different backgrounds; I shouldn’t allow this time of error overshadow future opportunities to share the truth and love of Christ.

(SeanO) #4

@AlexMeier Don’t be discouraged! The only way to grow is to gain experience and even when we think we blew it, God can do amazing things! My evangelism professor told us the story of a man in Australia, who I’ll call Bob, who would run out of his house and shout at passers by that they needed to repent and turn to Jesus (clearly the wrong method). Well, one man actually ended up receiving Jesus and went back to tell Bob and Bob broke down into tears. I think when our heart is in the right place and we are really trying to do our best and honor God the Lord can do do more than we expect with our meager efforts.

(Joshua Spare) #5

Hey @AlexMeier, first of all, I wanted to say, well done! I admire your courage and boldness to step into such an environment, where you are confronted by these rather disparate worldviews. I appreciate your reflection that perhaps the second conversation wasn’t Spirit-led, but I do think that your courage nonetheless is a admirable characteristic! Keep up the great work along with prayer that God would continue to lead and guide you into and through these conversations; and I will be praying for you as well!

Next, I wanted to offer a few thoughts, for what they are worth, on your conversation. When I am confronted with a question or pressure to which I don’t know how to respond, especially when I think that the question will provoke unproductive conversation, I respond with something to the effect of “that is a great question! I will have to take some time to think about that!” And then, because we are people of our word, make sure to actually spend some timing giving that question a good think. Perhaps you are getting “hung up” on that scripture. Perhaps there is some validity to the point that they are making. And perhaps their point is entirely wrong and useless, but at least you have given them them the respect due in doing your due diligence. I have found that this helps me to feel less discouraged after a conversation that doesn’t go well, as I know how I can do better, Lord willing. And it helps me to give glory to God when a conversation does go well, because I realize that my thoughts were so convoluted beforehand, that it was only by the grace of God that I was able to say anything even mildly coherent!

Another thought, when faced with a difficult situation like this one, is to try to ask far more questions that I am responding to. It sounds like you were trying to ask some questions, and getting stone-walled, but perhaps there were some questions that could be asked to start the dialogue between the JW and the Muslim? What do you believe about Jesus or about God the Father? Or perhaps some more personal questions of Why are you out here today? What motivates you to want to talk to others about your faith? I sometimes ask these questions in order to give myself some time to breath, but I try to always make sure that I am asking them with a genuine heart to learn about this person and their beliefs. And perhaps they will provide some insight into the person such when you are the one responding, you can respond not just to the question, but to the questioner as well.

May God continue to grow you in wisdom and courage as you continue to engage many different people in these excellent conversations!

(angelina Edmonston) #6

@SeanO SeanO Thank you for sharing this information.


I want to say WOW. It is so awesome that you spoke to these folks. I find you testimony worthy of a gold star.

What I find interesting is that both of these groups deny the deity of Jesus Christ/ Yeshua. And of course they both take issue with the Godhead/ Trinity. To me they have like spiritual issues.

I was wondering if sharing how similar they are would have been an interesting conversation. Correct me if I am wrong, but I see that a lot of false teachings boils down to who they believe each member of the Godhead is. Once this is addressed I can talk about the other points… Christianity of the Bible stands alone in the plurality of the Godhead - one GOD in three persons.

You should not-be hard on your self, what courage it took to share the gospel with them. Keep up the good fight !