www.christdeaf.org/bible
Christ Lutheran Church of the Deaf
Silver Spring, Maryland

Several years ago I received a visit from a pair of deaf Jehovah's Witnesses who had targeted me as a mission prospect. It was a quiet Saturday afternoon, and I had time to spare, so I invited them in.

The older man was training his young young assistant in the art of Witnessing for Jehovah. They arrived assuming that I was also deaf.

When I asked how they found me, the older fellow didn't want to answer, so the younger man admitted that they found my name in the local TTY directory. 

JW:

"We are here to tell you what we believe."

   

RF:

"Wonderful! Please tell me!"

   

JW:

"Here, this book explains what we believe" (trying to hand me the standard JW tutorial for new prospects, a little blue book I have seen many times where JWs were proselytizing their newest victims).

   

RF:

(Refusing to take the book.) "No, I would rather you tell me yourself what you believe."

   
 

(JW repeats his attempt to hand me the book, and I repeat my reason for not accepting it.)

   

JW:

"Well..." (Clearly uncomfortable with unscripted dialogue) "The Bible says... (The JW sign for BIBLE is LAW with a "B" handshape.) "The Bible says that there is no hell."

   

RF:

"Oh, really!? Where does the Bible say that?"

   

JW:

"Ecclesiastes 3:19 & 20 -- 'For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.'

   

RF:

"That is interesting. Would you mind if we opened our Bibles and take a look at that verse?" (JWs love to quote Scripture out of context. You can easily correct them by leading them back into the context of the verses they quote.)

   

JWs

(Both look startled. It seems that no one had ever suggested that to them before. They looked at each other. Then they looked at me. Then they look at each other again.) "Okay, yes." (They shrug, as if it say, "Why not? It can't hurt.")

   
 

(I read the text, and found that they had quoted it accurately.)

   

RF:

"Yes, that is what it says. But for me to understand any verse of the Bible, I must read that verse in its context. So to understand Ecclesiastes 3:19 & 20, I must back up and see what the whole chapter says. Let's back up and start in chapter 2, verse 12."

   

JW:

"No, no. Only those two verses!"

   

RF:

(smile) "Sorry. A verse out of context can mean anything. The verses that come before and after explain what the verse means." (I then read Ecc. 2:12-17) "Is that really true!?"

   

JW:

"No, it is only figurative."

   

RF:

"Oh. Okay..." (Then I read the next two verses.) "Is that really true?"

   

JW:

"No, it is only figurative."

   
 

(We continue this same routine all the way to 3:18 -- all of it is "only figurative.")

   

RF:

(Reading Ecc. 3:19-20 again -- the text that started our discussion) "Is that really true?"

   

JW:

"YES! Really!"

   
 

(Then reading on to the end of chapter 3, we learn that the rest of it is only "figurative.")

   

RF:

"How is it that all the verses in these two chapters are only figurative, but for some reason you have not yet explained, right in the middle are these two verses that are 'really true?'  Why do you change the way you interpret this text? I don't see anything in this text that alerts me that the writer changed his intention."

   

JW:

(Ignoring my question, he attempted to change the topic to another doctrinal issue important to Jehovah's Witnesses - I don't remember what it was.)

   

RF:

"Hold on! We are not finished with this topic yet. You say that there is no hell, and in support of that idea, you quote only one pair of verses, which are in a context that is, by your own admission, figurative! I, on the other hand, have a Bible full of many discussions and descriptions of hell. In fact, are you aware that the Bible talks much about hell than it does heaven?"

   

JW:

(Startled and skeptical) "No."

   

RF:

"Let me show you." (I close my eyes, and "randomly" open my Bible -- aiming for the Gospels, put my finger on the page, and open my eyes, to find that I landed on Parable of the Wedding Feast [Matthew 22]. I read it to the JWs.)

   

JW:

(referring to Jesus' very direct description of hell) "That's only figurative."

   

RF:

"Really?" (Several times I repeat the random discovery of texts about hell - from both the Gospels and Revelation. Some texts are parables; some are Jesus' direct instruction, such as Matthew 5:22, 29; 10:28, all eliciting the same response, "figurative.")

   

RF:

"Now I have given you many verses that in various ways identify and describe an eternal hell. But you say they are ALL figurative. One short text, which is embedded in context you describe as figurative, is an absolutely literally true denial of the existence of hell. On what basis do you make that determination - that one verse is true, and all these other clear teachings of Jesus about hell are figurative?"

   

JW:

"How can a loving God send people to hell?"

   

RF:

"I have a neighbor, who calls himself an atheist.  And he says exactly the same thing as you teach. You two must be getting your information from the same source.  Do you realize that you can make the Bible say anything you want, simply by choosing only the verses that appear to fit your doctrine and rejecting the rest?"
   

JW:

(appearing surprised) "No, we didn't know that. We thought we were suppose to read only the verses we can easily understand, and skip the rest."

   

RF:

"You don't read the newspaper that way. You don't read letters from your friends that way. You don't read TTY messages that way. You can only understand a single sentence anyone writes by reading the whole document.  

"Do you know what the message and purpose of Ecclesiastes is?"

   

JW:

"No."(looking very curious.)

I explained to them that King Solomon was wise and good when he was young (See 1 Kings 3).  That was probably when he wrote Proverbs and Song of Solomon.  But the Bible explains that King Solomon grew spiritually lazy and careless.  He built temples to idols for his many foreign wives, and he went to those temples to worship those idols.  (See 1 Kings 11:1-8)  In Solomon's old age, seeing that he had wasted his life, foolishly failing to follow his own advice in Proverbs, he looked back on his life through his worldly eyes, and realized how foolish he had been  (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11).  Now it all looked "meaningless!"  (Ecclesiastes 1:2)  From Solomon's worldly point of view, people are no better off than animals (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20  -- the same text that JWs use to argue "there is no hell").  By the end of the book, Solomon counsels young people not to make the same mistake that he did (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 6-7).

We also discussed the meaning of the name JEHOVAH.  They understood that Jehovah is just a variation of the more correct spelling of God's name: YAHWEH.  But they didn't know why or how Yahweh got changed to Jehovah.  So I was able to teach them that, also.



A few years later, I had a visit from a couple well dressed young men (hearing), who were going door-to-door.  They said, "We are from a nearby Bible college and we are in the neighborhood telling people about our faith."

What Bible college?  What group did they represent?

They didn't want to tell me.  But when they realized that they would not be able to discuss anything more with me until they told who they were, they admitted that they were Jehovah's Witnesses.

Then they gave me a couple familiar looking booklets from the Watchtower and Tract Society.  I set the books down on a table near our front door while they talked.   In order to "prove" to me that Jesus was not God, but only a creature created by God, they read Colossians 1:15-17 in the JW "New World Translation:" 
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist."

Notice the word "other" in brackets four times.  That means the word "other" is not in the original Greek text of the New Testament, but the Jehovah's Witnesses have added that word to their translation.

When I told the two young men about this error, they objected, "Oh, but it means the same thing!"   Sorry, not true!
JWs add the word "other" to mean that Christ was created first, then He created everything else.  However, if the text is translated accurately from the Greek, then it proves that Jesus Christ is, indeed, true God.  Try reading that text above, omitting the four "others," which JWs have added.  You will see clearly, "All things have been created through Him... He is before all things..."  A very different meaning!

The two Witnesses for Jehovah realized that they would not win me as a convert, so they politely brought the conversation to a close and began to leave.  But as they left, one of them asked a favor.  "Please read the material we gave you," he said, "because Jehovah will love me more if you do."

Here you see clearly that the religion of Jehovah's Witness is a religion of works, not of grace.  This is why Deaf JWs sign the word "Bible" as "law."  By keeping the Law of Jehovah, they hope to be earn enough points to be included in the resurrection.

I answered this young man, "Oh, my friend, I have the most wonderful news for you!  Jehovah already loves you with an infinitely perfect love.  There is nothing you can do to make Jehovah love you more than He already does!  There is nothing I can do to make Him love you more!"

He became embarrassed by his mistake, and said, "Yes, you are absolutely right.  Thank you. Good-bye."  He would not give me any more chance to tell him about Jesus the Savior.



For an PDF file briefly explaining the history and teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses, click here.

Also  click here for an explanation of the JW New World Translation, and click here for a summary the JW doctrine that contradicts the Bible clear teaching.

Pastor Tim Eckert (Quad Cities Lutheran Deaf Ministry, Iowa) has excellent resources for Deaf Christians concerning the teachings of  Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses:  "Defending Your Faith."

ASL video presentation by Deaconess Loreena Stennes, Madison, Wisconsin

For more information about JW teaching and practice, go to www.irr.org.  

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