A Holiday Exchange with Jehovah's Witnesses
by: Daniel Hendrix
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I am not sure what it is about this suburban neighborhood but it seems a target for frequent Jehovah Witness door to door calling. Many years ago, I was exposed to the JW's and I found some glaring problems in their arguments. So, I figured I'd try my hand at a little debate today and see if the issues I had back then had a more sufficient explanation now. The short answer to that is no.
(The following is paraphrased as I can't recall verbatim everything that was said. However, I have surprisingly good recollection of most of the conversation.)
Jehovah’s Witness: Good morning! Have you heard the word of God?
Me: Good morning. I’m Agnostic and as such, do not deny the potential existence of supernatural being or lack thereof.
Jehovah’s Witness: Well good news! We are here to tell you about the Truth. (He had a partner with him who remained silent the entire conversation) With Thanksgiving coming up, we have this special magazine to offer you that ...
Me: You know the truth do you?
(This guy was good. He waited a beat before saying this)
Jehovah’s Witness: Yes, it can be found in God’s word, the Bible.
Me: A book written by primitives who didn’t know where the sun went at night? I am familiar with it. (I admit this was confrontational of me but I wanted to get to the heart of the matter. the look on the guy's face was priceless.)
Jehovah’s Witness: Men who lived in a time in which Jehovah through his prophets and his only son Jesus Christ ministered his word.
Me: Doesn’t it say in the bible that men are imperfect?
Jehovah’s Witness: Yes, it does.
Me: So, you by extension are imperfect?
Jehovah’s Witness: We all are. That was the result of the sin of Adam as related in the book of Genesis.
Me: So how can I trust what you say then? You could be wrong.
Jehovah’s Witness: Trust not what I am saying, trust the word of God.
Me: Found in the Bible?
Jehovah’s Witness: Yes.
Me: Written by imperfect men?
Jehovah’s Witness: (Silence)
Me: Your argument is not very convincing and worse, it's circular.
(Another beat of silence. He ignored my objection and skillfully moved on)
Jehovah’s Witness: We’d like to give you a copy of the Watchtower magazine to read the word of God. This issue deals with Thanksgiving.
Me: Uh huh. So, why are you here? What does any of this have to do with me?
Jehovah's Witness: You are hearing the word of God and accepting truth into your life. Did you know that if a minister extends the word of God and you reject God that you cannot go on to paradise.
Me: Where do you go, Hell?
Jehovah’s Witness: There is no hell. At least not the fiery inferno of fictional literature.
Me: What then?
Jehovah’s Witness: Hell is the grave. You will simply cease to be.
Me: Kind of like when you die now.
Jehovah’s Witness: Not really. (He quoted a bible passage here that I do not recall) If you die now, you will be brought before Jehovah on Judgement Day and be given the choice to either follow him or you will perish. If you choose to follow God you can go on to live forever in a paradise on earth.
Me: Wait, I thought you said that if I heard and refused the word of God from a minister, that I would be condemned and could not go on to paradise.
Jehovah’s Witness: That is correct.
Me: You are that minister?
(He quoted something from Corinthians about setting aside childish things and spreading forth the word. Another passage I couldn't recall off the top of my head))
Jehovah’s Witness: Correct. I am relating the word of God to you. Witnesses engage in service to Jehovah by going to our neighbors and spreading the good news.
Me: This doesn’t sound like good news. In fact, it sounds like a logic trap.
Jehovah’s Witness: How do you mean?
Me: You started this conversation by telling me that if I refuse the word of God, I will be condemned and cannot go on to life in Paradise. But you also said that if I die without hearing the word of God, I will be brought before Jehovah on Judgment Day. Am I right so far?
Jehovah’s Witness: Yes.
Me: So, what you are telling me is that if you had never come to my door and I died, I’d actually get to hear it from God’s mouth and not an imperfect human being who I find factually questionable at best?
Jehovah’s Witness: Why do you find me factually questionable?
Me: You use the bible as your fall back. A book written by men long before either of us existed, who we have both agreed and concluded through this very discussion, are imperfect. You tout your religion as the “Truth” when there are thousands of other religions in this world, essentially stating that all others are not the Truth. You then try to logic trap me by telling me that if I do not accept your word, I will cease to exist after I die. Frankly, I find your assertions arrogant and insulting. So, no I don’t want a copy of the Watchtower.
Jehovah’s Witness: Have you read the Bible?
Me: Yes. I have read it twice. It’s a nice allegory with some good moralistic stories in it. But it’s also filled with a shit-ton of nonsense. The fact that you use something as glaringly contradictory as the bible as your catch-all source of information destroys your credibility with me.
It portrays God as a perfect being yet openly contradicts itself on several occasions.
Jehovah’s Witness: Okay, let's say you are right. Where does it say this? (I could see him challenging me here. Fortunately I remembered these passages well)
Me: Fine, I’ll quote something that has always stood out to me…
"He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he."
Jehovah’s Witness: Yes but there is no contradiction there. That is from the Old Testament and is stating the perfection of Jehovah.
Me: Right. The contradictions don’t happen in the same verses. For instance; Genesis 6:6-7 (I paraphrased this because I didn’t remember it word for word)
And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
Since God was sorry and regretted that he made man, it's only logical to say that God made an imperfect decision when he created man in the first place.
Now we have two imperfections originating from a perfect God:
1) God performed an imperfect act when he created the world and man.
2) Man, a work of God, performed an imperfect act when he "sinned".
So, you’ll forgive me if I don’t put any stock into what you are trying to sell me.
Jehovah’s Witness: Thank you for your time.
Me: Thank you. Enjoy your holidays.
I closed the door. As they walked away I could hear them talking through the open front window.
The silent guy spoke “That guy is pretty smart.”
“Not smart enough. He will not make it to paradise on earth but at least we attempted to help him.”
“I’m confused … he said …”
As they got further away I could no longer hear the conversation between them. I give JW’s credit, they are willing to engage in healthy debate but their ability to rationalize is circularly limited to the Bible. When you destroy the credibility of their only source of information, the conversation is essentially over. They had initially come up to denounce the Holiday season. I had heard it all before and changed the discussion. Admittedly, it was a bit unfair as I have given this years of consideration and he got hit with it the second he landed on my door. Still he was fairly well prepared and respectful. I still don't buy their argument and didn't expect that he would be any more knowledgable than any other person peddling the unknown. However, it was an interesting conversation.
Some of the other encounters with Jehovah's Witnesses on this site: