Opening the Door
In order to make the reasoning mechanism of a Witness function, the facts you have must reach the mind. If the wall cannot be penetrated, how do you reach the mind of the Witness?
You must induce the Witness to open the door in his or her wall. This door is opened wide during the many Kingdom Hall meetings and when reading Watchtower literature. It is the wall's strongest point - also its weakest if you know how to open it.
The key is to use theocratic terms. These are words, which the Society uses as triggers for whole avenues of understanding. For example; Armageddon, Babylon the Great, great crowd, Bethel, channel of communication, evil slave, faithful and discreet slave, Governing Body, Jehovah's arrangement, memorial service, new world, old world, organization-mindedness, pioneer service, theocratic society.
Using these terms will not open the door. They are just a key - they unlock the door. The Witness is trained to allow in all favourable comments towards his religion. So how should you respond to a Witness?
Perhaps you could like to know the best way to confound a Witness with some points that he or she will find impossible to refute. There is no such ready-made recipe. Unless you have studied the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses and are totally familiar with the scriptures they quote to support their beliefs, it is unwise to take on a trained Witness.
In any event, however convincing your argument, most Witnesses will hear very little of what you say. They are trained to appear to listen for a while, then return to the point they originally wanted to make. Trying to win on points of doctrine is usually a waste of time. The Witness will ask questions in order to establish an area that you can be proved wrong on. It is best to avoid answering questions; if say, a male Witness is trying to give you a testimony of his beliefs, it is proper for him to answer your questions.
To the Witness, the Bible is his authority. It is inconceivable to Witnesses that any other holy book could contain the truth about God and his purpose for the human race. If the Witness opens his Bible to support his view or answer your question, do not allow him to dart all over the Bible, but take the verse that he has read and insist on staying with that thought and reading the whole chapter. Usually the context will clarify the meaning. It is best to follow in your own Bible. On the whole try to avoid getting bibles out. The few minutes of discussion time do not allow for this. Quoting single verses of scripture establishes nothing. Argument and conflict must be avoided. Debate must not turn into a point scoring competition. Once the Witness has decided that you are not a threat to him, he will open the door to his mind a little because he feels you and he understand each other. This is not a trick. To converse with a Witness and achieve his trust, you really do need to understand him. Behind the wall is a caring and kind human. His intentions are honest. He is a disciplined man who cares enough to call on others to share his beliefs.
The motive for any discussion should be concern for a worthwhile person who has been misled. If he opens his mind to you, do not abuse this trust or try to hurt him. Continue to reason with him in a kind and understanding way. Attacking his organization or threatening his feeling of spiritual superiority, will cause him to slam the door to his mind.
Once a Witness begins to think, many suppressed thoughts and feelings will begin to surface. Insecurity will cause him or her to stay behind their wall while working things out. You will not be allowed into the Witness' mind for any length of time. In the brief moments while the door is open, do not try to threaten the security he or she finds in their organization but rather offer additional security. To fully understand a Witness and help them, takes time and patience. All offence at their presumption that you are soon to die at the hand of God, whom they love, while they are to be rewarded with eternal life, must be put aside. Most Witnesses are motivated far more by a fear of God than a love for him.
Jehovah's Witnesses as individuals have learned to develop a shield against each other out of fear that should they not measure up to the Society's standards, they will be reported. The Society expects them to show no favouritism to other members. There must be a uniform amount of affection to each congregation member. The Watchtower Society is an impersonal corporation. Their books and articles never bear the writer's name. The instruction and information is said to come from Jehovah God through this remote publishing company.
The number of members leaving is seen as proof that we are living in the last days as the Bible states that "the love of the greater number will cool off." When enough replacements join the organization to swell the number again, the Scripture that says, "Jehovah will speed it up in his own time" is quoted to again prove that these are the last days. Witnesses are expert at finding a verse of Scripture to support any belief they hold. In their eyes, to disagree with them is to contradict the Bible and therefore God.
Before any progress can be made towards establishing a relationship with a Witness the fear of you as a "worldling" or outsider, must be overcome by the Witness. This can only be done if you have a genuine concern towards the Witness and feel affection towards him or her as a person. Should the person you wish to help be a relative then this should come naturally.
It is difficult for someone who has never been a Jehovah's Witnesses to fully comprehend how totally committed most members are. Keeping up with the demands of a modern world and the demands of their religion can cause severe stress. To remain a Witness it is necessary to totally accept Watchtower policy and teaching. It has become increasingly difficult for many Witnesses to harmonise their beliefs with the flood of information that is now available.
Anyone or anything that threatens to upset this delicate balancing act will be avoided totally. For a Witness to even contemplate the possibility that they may not have been told the whole truth is a major step. At stake are not just a set of ideological beliefs, but also the security and protection that the Witness depends upon and maintains by remaining safely within the boundaries that have been set.
Many members are feeling let down and disappointed due to the failure of the promise that a new world would come during the last century. They are bruised and, in some cases, angry. Thousands have left, some after a lifetime of dedicated service.
It is essential to respect and sympathise with the situation that the Witness you care for has found his or her self in.
Most Witnesses are principled people who place honesty high on their list of priorities. Appealing to their sense of honesty as a legitimate reason to examine their beliefs, at a pace they can cope with, is a good place to start. Witnesses that find the courage to do this can find that although their conscious minds can make quite rapid changes, their emotional or unconscious minds take far longer to make adjustments. This is true of all people but more so with Witnesses because they have invested so much in their faith.
Once a Witness knows that you are prepared to talk to them about their faith it is best to wait until they approach you then they will be receptive. It is best to register just one thought-provoking point and leave the door open for future conversations. If you are too eager for confrontation you will run into a wall. For a Witness to let you past the wall they have built is an act of trust. That trust must not be betrayed but rewarded by reassuring the Witness that your motives are honourable and that you have their best interests at heart.
As I stated earlier in this book I have avoided listing a number of set ways to debate with a Witness, as those wishing to draw closer to a Witness will fare much better if they follow the guidelines I have suggested and treat each Witness as an individual who has deep feelings for his or her religion.
Taken from the newly released book 'Opening the Door to Jehovah's Witnesses' by Trevor Willis. Available from 'Amazon Books' ISBN 0954018206