Jehovah’s Witnesses: Witnessing
By David A. Reed, Ex-Jehovah’s
Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses typically revolve
around a discussion of deity. The reason for this is
twofold. First, this is the area where Watchtower theology
deviates most dramatically from orthodox Christianity.
In contrast to the Trinitarian concept of one God in
three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the
JWs have been taught to believe that God the Father
alone is "Jehovah," the only true God; that
Jesus Christ is Michael the archangel, the first angelic
being created by God; and that the Holy Spirit is neither
God nor a person, but rather God’s impersonal
Second, the subject
of deity is a frequent confrontational focus because
both Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christians (at least
those who like to witness to JWs) feel confident and
well-prepared to defend their stand and attack the opposing
viewpoint. Due to the profound theological differences,
such discussions often take the form of spiritual trench
warfare—a long series of arguments and counterarguments,
getting nowhere and ending in mutual frustration. But
this need not be the case, especially if the Christian
will "become all things to all men" by taking
a moment to put himself in the Witness’s shoes,
so to speak (see 1 Corinthians 9:22).
In the JW’s
mind he himself is a worshiper of the true God of the
Bible, while you are a lost soul who has been misled
by the devil into worshiping a pagan three-headed deity.
He is, no doubt, quite sincere in these beliefs and
feels both threatened and offended by the doctrine of
the Trinity. To give any serious consideration to your
arguments in support of the Trinity is simply unthinkable
to the JW; he would be sinning against Jehovah God to
entertain such a thought. So, in order to make any headway
with the Witness, it is necessary to bridge the gap—to
find common ground that will enable him to rethink his
theology. Rather than plunging into a defense of "the
doctrine of the Trinity," which can be mind-boggling
even to a Christian, take things one step at a time.
A good first step would be to consider the question,
"Is Jesus Christ really an angel?" It will
be frightening to the Jehovah’s Witness to open
this cherished belief of his to critical reexamination,
but not nearly as frightening as to start off discussing
evidence that God is triune.
Since the Watchtower
Society speaks of "Jesus Christ, whom we understand
from the Scriptures to be Michael the archangel"
(The Watchtower, February 15, 1979, p. 31), put the
JW on the spot and ask him to show you "the Scriptures"
that say Jesus is Michael. There are none.
The Watchtower Society
New World Translation (NWT) mentions Michael five times
as: 1) "one of the foremost princes" (Dan.
10:13); 2) "the prince of [Daniel’s] people"
(Dan. 10:21); 3) "the great prince who is standing
in behalf of the sons of [Daniel’s] people"
(Dan. 12:1); 4) "the archangel" who "had
a difference with the devil and was disputingabout Moses’
body" but "did not dare to bring a judgment
against him in abusive terms" (Jude 9); and 5)
a participant in heavenly conflict when "Michael
and his angels battled with the dragon" (Rev. 12:7).
Ask the Jehovah’s
Witness which one of these verses says that Michael
is Jesus Christ. Help him to see that it is necessary
to read Scripture plus a complicated Watchtower argument
to reach that conclusion. Rather than being merely "one
of the foremost princes," Jesus Christ is "Lord
of lords and King of kings" (Rev. 17:14, NWT) and
is "far above every government and authority and
power and lordship and every name named, not only in
this system of things, but also in that to come"
(Ephesians 1:21, NWT). And, unlike "Michael who
did not dare condemn the Devil with insulting words,
but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’" (Jude
9, Today’s English Version), Jesus Christ displayed
His authority over the devil when He freely commanded
him, "Go away, Satan!" (Matthew 4:10, NWT).
In arguing that Jesus
is Michael the archangel, the Watchtower Society also
points to another verse that does not use the name Michael
but says that "the Lord himself will descend from
heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s
voice and with God’s trumpet . . ." (1 Thessalonians
4:16, NWT). However, the expression "with an archangel’s
voice" simply means that the archangel, like God’s
trumpet, will herald the coming of the Lord, not that
the Lord is an archangel. Point out to the JW that none
of the verses he has attempted to use as proof-texts
even comes close to stating that Jesus Christ is Michael
the archangel. In fact, Scripture clearly teaches the
opposite: namely, that the Son of God is superior to
the angels. The entire first chapter of Hebrews is devoted
to this theme.
Have the Witness read
Hebrews chapter one aloud with you, and, as you do so,
interrupt to point out the sharp contrast between angels
and the Son of God. "For to what angel did God
ever say, ‘Thou are my Son . . .?’ And again,
when he brings the first-born into the world, he says,
‘Let all God’s angels worship him’"
(vv. 5,6, Revised Standard Version). Remind the JW that
angels consistently refuse worship ("Be careful!
Do not do that! . . .Worship God," Revelation 22:8,9,
NWT), but the Father’s command concerning the
Son is, "Let all God’s angels worship him"
(Hebrews 1:6). That is how the Watchtower’s own
New World Translation read for some 20 years until,
in 1970, the Society changed it to read "do obeisance
to him" instead of "worship him"—part
of their consistent campaign to eliminate from their
Bible all references to the deity of Christ.
True, you have not
yet proved the "doctrine of the Trinity" in
this discussion. But you have laid a good foundation
by giving the Jehovah’s Witness convincing evidence
that Jesus Christ is not an angel (he is now faced with
the question of who Jesus really is), and you have shown
that the Watchtower Society has misled him, even resorting
to altering Scripture to do so. Now you are in a much
better position to go on to present the gospel. (3:16