An Honest Encounter At The Door!
Imagine how field service would be different if Jehovah's Witnesses had to drop the facade of "we just want to talk to people" and instead were completely honest and candid about their doctrines and beliefs. A typical conversation in the ministry might go something like this.
Witness: Hi. My name is Brother Zealous and I'm here to offer you these magazines giving you a hope for the new world.
Householder: I have my own religion, thank you very much.
Witness: Oh ... ah-hem ... well, I'm glad to hear that.
Householder: You are?
Witness: Oh yes, you see, we talk to people of all religions.
Householder: Obviously. But aren't you here to convert me or something?
Witness: Well ... yes, that too.
Householder: I'm pretty happy with my religion, though. Why should I convert?
Witness: Well, we have the one and only true religion. Your religion is false.
Householder: False? But you don't even know what I believe!
Witness: Doesn't matter whatever it is, it's sure to be false. And even if we agree on 99.9% of the Bible, you're still in grave danger.
Householder: Why am I in danger?
Witness: Well, God's going to kill you. And ... well, I can see from the toys in your yard that you have children. Am I right?
Witness: Well, God's going to kill them, too. And it'll be your fault. There. You've been warned. I've just discharged my own responsibility, so the bloodguilt is yours now. When God kills your kids, it'll be all your fault. So you better take these magazines.
Householder: But we pray to God every night. We even pray together, as a family! My wife and my daughter and I kneel every evening before we tuck her in, and she folds her hands and prays for us and for her dolls and for Rover, her puppy ...
Witness: That's cute and all, but I'm afraid it isn't enough.
Householder: So my daughter ...
Householder: And my wife ...
Witness: Dead ...
Householder: What about Rover?
Witness: Dead. Dead dead dead dead dead. Look, are you going to take the magazines or not?
Householder: Well, wait a minute. Before I take them, how do I know for certain that YOU have the right religion?
Witness: I suppose that's a fair question. Well, our religion is the true religion because the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society says that we are.
Householder: So, you're saying that you have the right religion because your religion says you have the right religion?
Witness: Well, yeah.
Householder: That doesn't sound very convincing.
Witness: You must have misunderstood me. You see, only we have the unique beliefs that reflect the truth about the Bible.
Householder: So, you have the true religion because of your beliefs?
Witness: You betcha.
Householder: Well, that's circular reasoning. Saying that Witnesses have the right religion because only they have the particular beliefs that they have is well, it's the same as saying that Witnesses have the right religion because they're Witnesses.
Witness: Are you an apostate?
Householder: A what?
Witness: Never mind. You were starting to confuse me for a second, so I thought you might be an evil apostate. But I understand what the problem is now. You see, the "truth" of our religion is self-evident in our beliefs. All you have to do is look at our beliefs and you can tell that only we are following the Bible in the way that God wants.
Householder: Interesting. You know, I knew a Witness in high school. She didn't celebrate anything, not even birthdays. Is that one of your beliefs?
Witness: Right. God hates birthdays.
Householder: Well, let's take that. Why don't you celebrate birthdays?
Witness: There are two birthdays recorded in the bible, and in each of them someone gets his head chopped off. Everything in the bible is written for our instruction, so obviously God hates birthdays.
Householder: Heads chopped off?
Householder: My daughter's birthday was last week, and I swear to you that absolutely no one was decapitated. In fact, in all the birthdays I've celebrated in my life, no one even got a little bit hurt.
Witness: Still, it's a matter of principle. You don't want to be supporting something God hates.
Householder: But didn't Job celebrate his children's "special days"? And wasn't Job a righteous man?
Witness: Er, well ... um, you see, I guess you can't prove that the "special days" were birthdays. I mean, maybe they were just "fun days," heh heh ... you know, just friendly family get-togethers ...
Householder: You don't sound very convinced. But heck even if you're right, isn't it true that God directed the magi to Bethlehem, where they gave gifts to Jesus on the day of his birth?
Witness: Um, yes, that's true.
Householder: So there are more that two birthdays in the bible, right? It seems to me that there are about a dozen birthdays in the bible. Heads got cut off at only two of them. Perhaps the real lesson is that we shouldn't go chopping each other's heads off at birthdays?
Witness: Well, perhaps, but birthdays are also pagan in origin ...
Householder: Really? I didn't know that. What's the pagan origin, anyway?
Witness: Er, well, I used to know. I have this book that explains all this stuff ...
Householder: Wait a minute! You mean you don't even know the reason you don't celebrate birthdays? You can't even remember the pagan origins? I'm sorry, but that's pretty weak.
Witness: Well, that stuff doesn't really matter. Jehovah has seen fit to direct his Faithful and Discreet Slave to give us these rules. We don't question that.
Householder: So God himself directs your religious doctrine?
Witness: Yep! See, that's why we're the one true religion.
Householder: Right, right. But let me ask you, has your religion always had these strict beliefs? I mean, were you always restricted from holidays and celebrations and so forth?
Witness: Um, no. The light gets brighter and brighter as we get closer to Armageddon, which is when God's going to kill you and your family. We keep refining our beliefs. We're a "progressive" organization, see.
Householder: You're a progressive organization?
Witness: Oh yes. Unlike the stubborn false religions of Babylon the Great, we're not afraid to adjust our thinking according to the times.
Householder: So, if you're progressive, I suppose your religion has charities for orphans and widows, meetings for alcoholic members, support groups for those with disabilities, an outreach program for troubled teens,
Witness: Hey hold on there! No, none of that.
Householder: That doesn't sound very "progressive" to me. What about those in poverty? How does your religion take care of them?
Witness: We don't have specific arrangements for giving charity to our own members.
Householder: What about orphans, widows, single mothers?
Witness: Well, if they're at every meeting and comment a lot at the meetings and get well over the national average, well, then maybe we'll have a get-together for them. You know, invite them over to study the Watchtower with us. But, I mean, there's welfare and other social services for people like that.
Householder: Which is funded by the government.
Witness: Er, yeah.
Householder: Which your God Jehovah is going to destroy.
Witness: Yeah, um, that's right.
Householder: Well, you must have special programs and meetings to help troubled teens, domestic problems, alcohol abuse, that sort of thing.
Witness: No. We deny that these problems exist within the brotherhood. And anyone who has a serious problem must not be studying the Watchtower enough they're spiritually weak and we should avoid them.
Householder: I don't understand. How can you help people with problems if you avoid them? This doesn't make a lot of sense.
Witness: See, that's why you need these magazines. They explain everything! Let me show you ... look, see how there are all these scriptures in parentheses? You can follow along, even in your own inferior translation of the Bible.
Householder: This one paragraph lists scriptures from Ezekiel, Proverbs, Matthew, Galatians, and Revelation.
Witness: Yes! Our religion makes the most sense if you take all the verses out of context and paste them together. Reading the Bible this way reveals the ultimate fulfillment of Bible prophecy that only Witnesses understand.
Householder: So the particular historical, political, and cultural context of the scripture is irrelevant?
Witness: If you want to read the bible that way, you can it's interesting and all but you won't understand the deeper truths. You won't be able to prepare yourself for Armageddon, either.
Householder: So we're pretty close to Armageddon, huh?
Witness: That's right. You'd better take these magazines.
Householder: You don't happen to have any insight into how soon until the, um, "end," do you? I mean, are we talking weeks, months, years, or what?
Witness: We don't predict anymore that would be arrogant. Acts 1:9 says that no one knows the hour or season of God's plan. So, we don't know when the end will come.
Householder: You don't predict "anymore"?
Witness: Er ... well ... no.
Householder: So Jehovah's Witnesses have predicted the end of the world before?
Witness: Darn it! Are you sure you're not an apostate?
Householder: I'm just curious. If I'm going to convert to your religion, I think I should know something about its history first.
Witness: Well, we used to say that the end would come in 1914. Then we said it would come in 1916. Then we said it would come in 1918. Then 1925 that was a big one. Then 1941 or 1942. Then we said it would come in 1975. Then we said it would come before the generation of 1914 passed away, with a generation being the equivalent of no more than 80 years. But in 1995 someone looked up "generation" in a dictionary and we decided that wasn't true. We even said, sort of by accident, that it would come before the end of the twentieth century.
Householder: Happy new millennium.
Witness: Uh, yeah. In any event, it's coming very, very soon. Any day now. It won't delay. Honest. We mean it.
Householder: Right. Um, look I'm not the greatest Bible scholar, but isn't there a scripture where Jesus warned his followers to look out for false prophets? And doesn't the Bible also warn that false prophets will, like, die or something?
Witness: Well, the bible does say that. But it doesn't apply to us.
Householder: Why not?
Witness: Because we're not prophets.
Householder: But don't you preach the predictions of your religion, whatever they are, as printed in the magazine you're showing me here?
Witness: That's right. But it's not a big deal. You see, sometimes, in our enthusiasm, imperfect men among us have leaped ahead of Jehovah and made mistakes.
Householder: But you said that God himself directs your doctrine!
Witness: That's right.
Householder: How does that make sense?
Witness: It makes sense because we have the truth!
Householder: The truth about what?
Witness: Er, well, that is ... obviously you are an apostate, and I'm hear to reason with you, not the other way around, and, um, my car group is waiting, and, er, well, have a nice day. I will shake the dust from my feet as I climb into my Presiding Overseer's minivan.