Street Witnessing in Conyers, GA (rather long, but IMO cool experience)

by AuldSoul 36 Replies latest jw friends

  • AuldSoul

    This is a long experience, I am trying to get it down while still fresh in mind. My hope is that some might be aided in their approach to JWs by reading this, but I dunno. Read if you want to, don't read if you don't want to, and that way you'll have no business being annoyed by my having posted it.

    My job has me driving all over the state of Georgia, USA throughout the week. I am well paid for doing a job to which I seem well suited, which is an ideal situation to find. On my way out of a store where I had to stop for work on Saturday (9/9/2006), I spied an older lady (probably early 80's) sitting on a bench with an NWT next to her. She was speaking to people as they passed.

    I walked right up to her and asked if she was one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I told her I had some questions that no JW had yet provided me a Scriptural answer for, and I wondered if she would like to try. She happily agreed and I sat down.

    I mentioned John 1:1 and her eyes lit up (she obviously knew the answer to the question I had not yet asked). I said, "I know a lot of people try to argue about whether the verse should say 'the Word was God' or 'the Word was a god', but that isn't the part my question comes from." Her expression changed from delighted certainty to one of unabashed curiosity. I said, "The verse says the Word was several things 'in the beginning', would you agree that 'in the beginning' refers to when God created the heavens and the earth?"

    She said, "Well, yes. Of course." I asked if I could borrow her Bible and turned to the verse for her, since her hands had clenched it tightly in such a way that I figured she'd rather not open it.

    I said, "But if YHWH, or Yahweh, or Jehovah was the onlytrue God 'in the beginning', was Jesus a false god 'in the beginning'?"

    Wow! Utter consternation. I just sat for several minutes while her face went through a range of emotions, finally settling on somewhat uncertain piety, "Well, you know, Jesus was a god after his resurrection."

    I said, "Oh, yes. I know that's what Jehovah's Witnesses teach. I am very well versed in the teachings of your religion. But the Bible says, 'In the beginning...the Word was a god.' So, we can't really say that 'in the beginning' would mean after his resurrection, could we?"

    She got the same weird, spaced out look on her face that my mother, father, and Circuit Overseer got when faced with a question that has only one logical answer and the answer conflicts with JW dogma. It is the face of cognitive dissonance in action. I could see the moment that her trigger was tripped for the conditional program "We MUST have the truth because..." to run. Suddenly, she smiled and said, "You seem like you have studied the Bible a lot. Do you believe we are in the Last Days?"

    I chuckled, reached out and touched her arm affectionately, and said, "To tell you the truth, I think that is a way to avoid the questions that I asked and move on to a point that you feel trained to discuss instead. I asked you if you wanted to try and answer my questions...I have only asked one, so far. And you haven't really given me any Scriptures or even an answer to my question."

    She sighed and said, "What was your question again?" She had forgotten. Not due to poor memory, it was due to interference from cognitive dissonance, due to conditioning doing its job. This is not brainwashing. A person who is brainwashed can be brought out of their stupor by such conversations. Someone who has been subjected to long-term conditioning is HIGHLY resistant to thoughts and ideas that run contrary to those that are conditioned?usually via an elborate system of recovery patterns that disengage the uncomfortable idea or thought in favor of a more comfortable idea or thought.

    I smiled, patted her arm in a friendly way, and joked, "See? That's what happens when we get distracted from what we were talking about. That's why I really want an answer to this question, not a long involved discussion about a lot of other side issues." In relegating the other discussion she wanted to have to the status of a distracting side issue, I inserted the idea that for the conversation to have any chance of success (i.e. converting me) she would have to adopt my view of these issues for the time being. This is one of the conditions JWs have been "programmed" with. It is using the principle of 'becoming all things to all persons' as a means to carry on a conversation they would otherwise quickly reject.

    I asked again, "'In the beginning, was Jesus a true God or a false god?' The reason I ask is because the Bible speaks of many gods. Tammuz, Baal, Molech, Paul and Barnabas were confused with Zeus and Hermes by the people of Crete, the Philistines worshipped Dagon among other gods, Satan is referred to as a god. But all of these are false gods, whereas YHWH is portrayed in the Bible as a true God. In fact, the New World Translation repeatedly calls Him 'the [only true] God.' So, I want to know, was Jesus a true God, or a false god 'in the beginning'?"

    She said, "Well, you know, 'god' and 'lord' are simply titles. So..." She trailed off, realizing that still didn't answer my question.

    I said, "I realize that. But 'Chief Executive Officer' is a title, too. Titles have meaning, they aren't just words. If I am a messenger boy for a local courier and I call myself the CEO I am going to get into a lot of trouble for that, right? Why? Because I took a title I don't deserve, right?" Meantime, she is smiling and affirming the truth of what I am saying by nods and "Yes, that is true," thrown in occasionally.

    "See, it seems to me that a 'god' is something that gets worship and reverence. Would you agree?"

    "Well, sure," she replied.

    "So the false gods got worship and reverence but they didn't deserve it, right? I mean, Paul even said that our bellies can be our gods, right?"

    "Yes, that is true."

    "So, in determining whether a god is a true or false god, it seem like it depends on whether they are deserving of worship and reverence, right? The ones that are true Gods deserve the title and the worship and reverence that goes along with it, while the false gods do not deserve the title or the worship or the reverence. Is that how you understand it?"

    She said, "Yes. That is what the Bible teaches, and that is what Jehovah's Witnesses teach, too."

    I said, "Okay, so you agree with Jehovah's Witnesses, then."

    She asked, "About what?"

    "About Jesus being a false god that doesn't deserve worship."

    She looked like I had slapped her. She literally recoiled in shock. She said, "No, now! I never said Jesus was a false god!"

    So I calmly said, "Oh, okay. Then you disagree with Jehovah's Witnesses. Jesus is a true God, deserving of worship."

    She said, "I didn't say that either."

    I told her I was getting confused, did she believe that Jesus was a true god or not.

    She said, "I tell you, I sure wish my son was here. He's an elder and he would be able to answer this so much better than I can."

    I said, "That is so sad that you guys have to rely on your clergy to answer questions about the Bible. That i one of the reasons I decided not become a part of any organized religion, there is too much dependence on men for doctrine. I think God meant for everyone who wanted to learn to be able to find the message of the Bible."

    "We don't have a clergy, it is just that he knows...well, the elders know so much more about the Bible than I do."

    I said, "Yes. That is what a clergy is, clergy are the authorities in the church who are believed to know more about the Bible or religious doctrine than the laity, and the laity are the ones they teach or pastor. You just described a clergy/laity division."

    She reaffirmed, "Yes, but, we don't have a clergy."

    "Maybe you just call it something different, but what you said about the elders describes what the dictionary calls a 'clergy'. Either way, you need someone else to talk to me about the Bible, which is often the case with the Jehovah's Witnesses I speak to. It seems like some are perceived as having special knowledge or understanding."

    She got a little pious and said, "Well, I only have one example that I follow," and she started trying to find 1 Peter 2:21, "Paul said something about it..." as she turns through 1st and 2nd Corinthians, "...or maybe it was Peter..."

    Intentionally paraphrasing, I said, "You mean where it says 'Christ was a pattern for us and we ought to follow his steps'?"

    She said, "Yes!"

    I said, "1 Peter 2:21."

    She flipped to it AND READ IT TO ME, even though I had just stated the point she was trying to draw from it. Which, inwardly, made it tough for me to keep a straight face as I thought of Disney's animatronics going through programmed motions whether or not anyone is in the park to see it. She declared in a rather cute imperious tone (coming from a frail, older black woman), "And THAT'S who I follow!"

    I said, "I am sure you believe you do, but Jesus sought out people the organization of his day shunned; people who were cut off from Jewish society, cut off from the synagogue. But you go along with your elder's decisions even though you don't personally know that the people punished by the elders deserved the punishment."

    She said, "Oh yes. We know. Because first the elders go and try to counsel with the person and help them to change their bad behavior. Then if the person isn't repentant they are cut off, just like the Bible says."

    I grinned, "Can you show me where the Bible says..."

    She cut me off, "Oh, yes. Right here in 1 Corinthians..."

    I interjected, "Are you going for 'not even eating a meal with such a man'?" She was. "What I want to see is where the Bible says that the elders would be the ones to decide for the whole congregation whether someone was repentant. The elders could make a mistake either way, judging an unrepentant one repentant, or a repentant one as unrepentant. Why should they take the place of the congregation."

    She said, "Well Jesus said they should be treated as a tax collector and a man of the nations."

    "Okay. How did Jesus treat tax collectors and men of the nations? It seems to me he healed Jairus' daughter and expelled demons from the daughter of the Phoenician woman that he compared to a puppy. He called both Matthew and Zacchaeus to be his disciples. The Pharisees rightly accused him of eating with the tax collectors and the sinners. So what did he mean when he said to treat them as tax collectors and people of the nations?"

    She said, "Well, I never really thought about that." To me, this was a MAJOR breakthrough.

    So, I pressed my luck when I likely should have [smacks forehead while chanting "Dummy! Dummy! Dummy!"] and said, "More to the point, when Jesus said what to do if someone commits a sin the elders or congregational authorities aren't included at any stage. He said to go first to the person by yourself. Then take one or two other people, he didn't specify that the others should be elders or Christians or anyone special, any two people would do. Then, if they didn't listen, go to the congregation. Not the elders, to the congregation. That is what the Bible directly says to do. Why does your organization teach something different?"

    Again, the cognitive dissonance face. This time, phase two condition kicked in, she mentioned she didn't have time to continue but that it was really an interesting discussion. I readily agreed. She asked the first phase question again. Which said to me she wasn't quite done considering what I had to say and was looking for a point of contention that she could shut off her mind, because of.

    I said I'd rather not answer because I didn't think she like my answer. She pressed the point, so I said, "I know that Jehovah's Witnesses started out teaching that we were in the Last Days from 1799 onward, back when they were still calling themselves Bible Students..." She interjected, "No. From 1914 onward." I restated, "They started out teaching that the Last Days were from 1799 onward, that the 'time of great trouble' or 'Great Tribulation' started in 1874, when Jesus returned invisibly..." She interjected, "That also happened in 1914..."

    I sighed and said, "Ma'am, I'm not talking about what they currently teach, I am talking about what was taught in the first issue of Zion's Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Presence in 1879. I have that publication on a CD at my home, I know what they were teaching at that time. Have you read that issue?"

    She said, "Well, no, but I know what we teach!"

    I said, "I am sure you do, but you apparently don't know what they used to teach, and since I have read it with my own two eyes I am sure of what they used to teach. I don't mean any disrespect, but what they currently teach does not match what they used to teach. Have you ever heard of the divine plan of the ages?"

    "Oh, yes! I have a book at home that has a picture of it."

    I said, "Have you ever read that book?"

    "No, that is old doctrine. We don't believe that anymore, so there is really no need to read it."

    I said, "But I am talking about old doctrine. If you know there is old doctrine that Jehovah's Witnesses no longer teach, and you have chosen not to investigate the old doctrine, can you reasonably tell me I am wrong when I tell you what they used to teach?"

    "Well, no, I suppose not. You have a point there."

    I continued, "The 'time of trouble' was to extend to 1914 or early 1915 when Armageddon was due..." She interjected, "But no one knows the day or the hour, they couldn't have taught that." I said, "I agree, but they taught it just the same. Then, C.T. Russell died in 1916. From 1918 to 1922 J.F. Rutherford gave a talk all over everywhere entitled, 'The World Has Ended?Millions Now Living Will Never Die." She interjected, "Yes. That's right. 1922 was the year I was born (making her around 84 years old). In fact, I have that book somewhere. The 'Millions Now Living' one."

    I said, "I'm guessing you never read it for yourself..." She nodded, "You're right." I continued, "...because, if you had you would know that what I saying about the old doctrine is true. That talk series and book states that the world DID END in 1914 as scheduled." She looked stunned to the core. I paused before continuing, "It also said that in 1925 people who were servants of God could expect their infirmities to be miraculously healed and that we could expect to welcome the 'ancient worthies' such as Daniel, Abraham, and Moses back from the dead. The final end was also due to come in 1925, the physical manifestation of the spiritual end of the world that had already occurred."

    This time, the cognitive dissonance was STRONG. I had gone too far, too fast. She said, "Well let me just ask this: Do you believe we are living in the Last Days?" I asked, "Why do you believ we are? What criteria do you use?" She turned to 1 Timothy 3:1-5 (programmed response) and noted that there would be no natural affection. She said, "When I was little girl, parents loved their children and children loved their parents." I said, "This was when you were a little girl?" She nodded. I said, "You said you were born in 1922. When you were a little girl, Jehovah's Witnesses were teaching that we were already in the last days, and that we had been ever since 1799. Were you born in the Last Days?"

    She said, "Yes." Her eyes glazed over, probably reminiscing about some halcyon youth that never actually happened.

    I said, "Then, obviously parents didn't love their children, and children didn't love their parents when you were young."

    She said, "But they were getting worser. Things kept getting worser. It is progressively getting worse now, you hear about kids killing their parents."

    I said, "Have you ever heard of Lizzy Borden?" She said, "No, who is that?" I said, "Nevermind. It isn't important."

    "I really have to go now, I am late for an appointment. But why do you think we aren't in the Last Days?"

    I said, "Ma'am, if you were born in 1722 instead of 1922, you would have been dead by age 60 if you survived past age 10. You have already lived 22 years longer than you could have expected to live back then."

    I continued, "If you were to transport someone from the Dark Ages into the 21st Century..." She interjected, "20th Century." I restated, "21st Century, this is the 21st Century, if you were to transport a woman from the Dark Ages, between 450 and 1000 AD, that was free of the Black Plague and smallpox, that had never known anything but a life of the wife of a serf, that scraped daily for sustenance, who was property in a very real legal sense, and you dropped her into a modern 21st Century city anywhere on earth, she would believe she had arrived in heaven. The crime rate now is nothing compared to what that woman would have lived through, poverty affects less of the world than ever before, there is less starvation and hunger per capita worldwide than at any time prior in the whole of civilized human history. I don't think we are in the Last Days because I do not choose to look only at the negatives. I understand that Jehovah's Witnesses are trained to do so."

    At this point she waved me off saying, "I tell you the truth, when I first started talking to you I thought this young man might be able to see the truth. But if you can't see we are living in the Last Days, you really are blind. You need to do something for me. You need to pray as you study."

    She was saying this very kindly, not aggressively. I said, "I'll tell you what, I will agree to pray as I study if you will agree to ask your son the elder one question for me."

    She said, "Okay, what is the question?"

    I said, "How can Jehovah's Witnesses claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus when they aren't even allowed to talk to him, much less worship him?"

    She wrote it down in the front leaf of her Bible. She puzzled over it a minute. I added, "Now, there is two scriptures that go along with that question. John 1:1 says, 'In the beginning...the Word was a god.' and Hebrews 1:5, 6 says that even the angels worship Jesus.

    She agreed to ask. I also reminded her to read the book "Millions Now Living" if she could find it, so that from now on she would know for sure what they used to teach when people asked about it.

    We parted company with a very cordial handshake and an exchange of pleasantries. If this was too long for you, you were warned in advance.

  • Seeker4

    Quite an experience, AuldSoul. Her elder son will be doing some calming down of Mother this weekend, I'm sure!


  • fullofdoubtnow

    That sounds like quite an interesting conversation AS, I think you gave her a few things to think about, and I agree with S4, her elder son might be facing a few awkward questions!

  • mkr32208

    Oh you meanie the poor thing was 84 years old!

    What was it they said in the matrix they don't wake people beyond a certain age!

  • AuldSoul

    Thanks, S4. I hope that is the effect.

    mkr32208, they don't hold back from trying to convert people into their religion depending on the age, do they?

    fullof"certain uncertainty"now, it was a very interesting conversation. I know the elder son cannot answer the question Scripturally. Who knows, maybe her asking him will start him thinking. Or his wife. I feel sure she is going to share her experience with people, probably ending on the sad note, "If he could only have seen that we are living in the Last Days...," with an unstated but weighty "...tsk, tsk," in her heart.

    I botched up the spelling of a lot of words, but I won't fix it to avoid all the spaces in between the paragraphs. I was trying to write quickly and the embarassing spelling is the penalty I must pay. Please try to forgive me. But most of the grammar is preserved as actually stated, to give the flavor of the conversation as it happened.


  • mkr32208

    I was just playin' plus she may well plant some seeds with those questions!

  • V

    Brilliant. Your story is well told.

    Golden points:

    • If Jehovah was the only true God 'in the beginning', was Jesus a false god 'in the beginning'?

    JW response to Jesus as a god:

    Insight Vol 2, page 54

    The Word?s preeminent position among God?s creatures as the Firstborn, the one through whom God created all things, and as God?s Spokesman, gives real basis for his being called "a god" or mighty one. The Messianic prophecy at Isaiah 9:6 foretold that he would be called "Mighty God," though not the Almighty God, and that he would be the "Eternal Father" of all those privileged to live as his subjects. The zeal of his own Father, "Jehovah of armies," would accomplish this. (Isa 9:7) Certainly if God?s Adversary, Satan the Devil, is called a "god" (2Co 4:4) because of his dominance over men and demons (1Jo 5:19; Lu 11:14-18), then with far greater reason and propriety is God?s firstborn Son called "a god," "the only-begotten god" as the most reliable manuscripts of John 1:18 call him.

    This actually proves JWs are polytheists. Although they say they believe in only one "true" God, their doctrine teaches Jesus and Satan are also legitimate gods

    • Jesus said [DFed] should be treated as a tax collector and a man of the nations. How did Jesus treat tax collectors and men of the nations?

    JW response to Jesus with tax collectors, men of the nations:

    Watchtower 1999

    10/15pp.18-19 "YouMayGainYourBrother"


    Strictly speaking, what Jesus advised relates to more serious matters. Jesus said: "If your brother commits a sin." In a broad sense, "a sin" can be any mistake or failing. (Job 2:10; Proverbs 21:4; James 4:17) However, the context suggests that the sin Jesus meant must have been serious. It was sufficiently grave that it could lead to the wrongdoer?s being viewed "as a man of the nations and as a tax collector."

    Read the scripture yourself and decide if the "context" means a "serious sin":

    (Matthew 18:15-17) 15 "Moreover, if your brother commits a sin, go lay bare his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two more, in order that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. 17 If he does not listen to them, speak to the congregation. If he does not listen even to the congregation, let him be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector.

    ...paragraph 12 Jesus outlined a second step: "If he does not listen, take along with you one or two more, in order that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter may be established."


    He said to take "one or two more." He did not say that after taking the first step, you are free to discuss the problem with many others, to contact a traveling overseer, or to write to brothers about the problem. Convinced as you may be about the wrong, it has not really been fully established. You would not want to spread negative information that could turn out to be slander on your part. (Proverbs 16:28; 18:8) But Jesus did say to take along one or two others. Why? And who could they be?

    Get ready for more spin...

    14 You are trying to gain your brother by convincing him that a sin has been committed and by moving him to repent so as to be at peace with you and with God. To that end, the ideal situation would be if the "one or two" were witnesses to the wrong. Perhaps they were present when it occurred, or they have valid information about what was done (or not done) in a business matter. If such witnesses are not available, those you bring may have experience in the field at issue and therefore be able to establish whether what occurred was truly a wrong. Moreover, should it later be needed, they could be witnesses to what was said, confirming the facts presented and effort made. (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6) So they are not simply neutral parties, referees; yet, their being present is to help gain your brother and theirs.

    So the "witnesses" are those who observed the sin? Where is that said? Isn't Jesus saying take others along to be witnesses of your dispute, after the fact?

    ...paragraph 16 If step two fails to settle the matter, congregation overseers are definitely involved in the third step. "If he does not listen to [the one or two], speak to the congregation. If he does not listen even to the congregation, let him be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector." What does this entail?


    We do not understand it as a directive to bring up the sin or wrong at a regular or special meeting of the whole congregation. We can determine the appropriate procedure from God?s Word. See what was to be done in ancient Israel in a case of rebellion, gluttony, and drunkenness: "In case a man happens to have a son who is stubborn and rebellious, he not listening to the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and they have corrected him but he will not listen to them, his father and his mother must also take hold of him and bringhimouttotheoldermen of his city and to the gate of his place, and they must say to theoldermen of his city, ?This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he is not listening to our voice, being a glutton and a drunkard.? Then all the men of his city must pelt him with stones."?Deuteronomy 21:18-21.


    The man?s sins were not heard and judged by the whole nation nor by all of his own tribe. Rather, the recognized "older men" dealt with it as representatives of the congregation. (Compare Deuteronomy 19:16, 17 about a case handled by ?the priests and the judges who were acting in those days.?) Similarly today, when it is necessary to take the third step, the elders, who represent the congregation, handle the matter. Their goal is the same, to gain the Christian brother if at all possible. They reflect this by showing fairness, not prejudging the case or being partial.

    Even if you accept ancient Israel's procedure, the person was heard at the gate, in public. If found guilty "then all the men of the city" would stone the person--that's right--all in public. Does that match JW's private judicial committees and undisclosed DFings? Not at all.

    • Were you born in the Last Days? Then, obviously parents didn't love their children, and children didn't love their parents when you were young.

    JW response to these horrible last days (in 1967!):

    Watchtower 19679/1p.518ChristianConductintheFaceofViolence

    Is the violence we now experience going to decrease or increase in the days ahead? Bible prophecy guarantees: "Wicked men . . . will advance from bad to worse." (2 Tim. 3:13) Also, it says: "The inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons." (1 Tim. 4:1) And Jesus Christ foretold: "Because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off."?Matt. 24:12.

    Violence will thus continue to grow for a little while longer, until these "last days" come to their completion. Then God will bring all violence, and those responsible for it, to their finish.

    Without a doubt, "the world is passing away and so is its desire." (1 John 2:17) In one orgy of violence after another, it speeds to its near end at God?s own hand. Yet, God?s Word also promises that "he that does the will of God remains forever." Thus, the comforting promise of surviving the end of this violence-filled system is held out to honest-hearted persons everywhere who do God?s will.

    The late sixties. Most JWs today are of the baby-boomer age--1967 was the time of their coming of age, what they now compare 2006 to when saying modern times are worse! The "good ol' days" always seem to be a couple decades past--no matter when you live. \

    • How can Jehovah's Witnesses claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus when they aren't even allowed to talk to him, much less worship him?

    JW response to personal relationship with Jesus:

    NOT MUCH! You will only find references to a personal relationship with Jehovah through Jesus as a mediator. This is the only reference I could find in recent publication that even mentions a relationship with Jesus:

    Watchtower 1995


    And, above all, how is our personal relationship with Jehovah God and his Son, Jesus Christ?

    But there is a catch, JWs with an earthly hope do not believe Jesus is their Mediator. That is reserved for the 144,000 "anointed" only.

    Watchtower 1991


    Hence, the ransom sacrifice is fundamental to the new covenant, of which Jesus is the Mediator. Paul wrote: "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all?this is what is to be witnessed to at its own particular times." (1 Timothy 2:5, 6) Those words especially apply to the 144,000, with whom the new covenant is made.

  • johnny cip
    johnny cip

    she sounded like a really nice 84 year old lady. and i sure you were polite. and i'm sure she's been a jw for decades. the whole point of all this . is that a few good questions . will tie most any jw into KNOTS. it's sad this lady could only sit on a bench , and be made to look like a spritual dope. with all the training she has gotten over the years. just goes to show her years of training wasn't worth . the time she spent learning it.. i'm not surprised a bit. john

  • bebu

    Fascinating conversation; it must have been exhiliarating! I appreciate your putting it all down even w/typos. THANKS!

    I am going to re-read this several times. You made great points with your questions, and I wonder if I can use your question(s) with my JW friend.


  • BizzyBee

    Well done, Auld. (Poor old gal prolly feels like she finally had the opportune moment she's waited a lifetime for and blew it.)

    Yet again proving that this is a belief-system that relies on emotion, not intellect.

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