Questions to Ask A Jehovah's Witness;
at a cart or during a Bible Study
This article was originally intended for people studying with Jehovah's Witnesses, listing topics to discuss for a better understanding of Watchtower's less palatable doctrine.
Over the last decade, far fewer Bible studies progress to baptism. On the other hand, there are far greater numbers of former members wanting to know how to assist Jehovah's Witnesses. With the introduction of Jehovah's Witnesses spreading their message by placing carts in busy locations, it is easy to approach one and initiate a discussion.
If you are studying with Jehovah's Witnesses, there are a number of sensitive topics that you are unlikely to learn about in any detail before being encouraged to be baptised. You should discuss the following topics with your study conductor, prior to becoming overly involved, to have a solid understanding of what you are becoming involved in.
If your goal is to educate a Jehovah's Witness about their own religion, these questions are equally effective as a way to stimulate considering doctrine from alternative viewpoints.
The aim of these questions is not to have a doctrinal debate, as a Jehovah's Witness will question your motives and not accept your reasoning. Rather, asking thought provoking questions aims to stimulate educated responses. An occasional comment may be necessary to make sure the answer is logical or correct, and not avoiding the question. A Witness will deflect to another topic when you raise difficult questions, so be vigilant in preventing this from happening.
Before asking each question it is worth reading the corresponding section on this site. Clicking on the heading will take you to a discussion of the question, with quotes showing what the Watchtower teaching is. The answer you are likely to receive from a Witness appears in red.
- Salvation for Whom?
- What is the Good news of the kingdom?
- Is Jesus your Mediator
- Last Days
- The word Jehovah
- Blood transfusions
- Disfellowshipping and Shunning
- The Trinity and Worship of Jesus
- History of Jehovah's Witnesses
- Directed by Holy Spirit
Who will be saved?
Everyone in Jehovah's organization.
Does that means only Jehovah's Witnesses be saved?
It is not for us to judge, some other people may yet come to God's organization.
So that means billions of people currently are not eligible for salvation.
Why do you think most people are so bad God will destroy them?
That is not how we look at it, but the Bible does say that a person needs to be part of Jehovah's organization to be saved.
Do you think I will die at Armageddon if I don't become a Jehovah's Witness?
Would you kill for Jehovah
The following outline is from an actual cart conversation. Personalising the doctrine of Armageddon is effective at demonstrating its barbarity.
Me: In the past God used his chosen people to kill his enemies, such as the destruction of Canaanites
Me: In the future, who will destroy the wicked people on the Earth?
JW: The angels under command of Jesus.
Me: Hypothetically, if God decided that his people today would have a hand in the destruction of the wicked at Armageddon, would you willingly follow God's command?
JW: Yes, but...
Me: Okay, so you would kill other people if God commanded it.
JW: Um, well... I'm not sure I could do that. I mean, surely God would not change his mind or want us to do that.
Me: So you're uncomfortable with the idea of killing other people, even if it is God's will.
JW: Well, a little yes, I guess.
Me: Right, but you're okay about it if someone else does it for you, such as Jesus or the angels? Then it's okay?
JW: Yes, well.. yes, I suppose
Me: So you would not feel comfortable killing my young son at Armageddon
JW: Um, well... I would never have to.
Me: But you are ok if someone else kills him, then that's fine?
JW: Um, er, yes
Me: So, let me get this straight. You wouldn't feel right about having to kill other people but you don’t mind if other people do it. I personally think it's a barbaric, primitive idea that has no place in a civilised society. It's hard to imagine a civilised, loving, kind God that is so limited he could only solve the world's problems by killing lots of people. I hope that's not what you believe. Is it? Do you really think the only way to fix a problem is to kill everyone who doesn't agree with you?
JW: I never really thought about it like that.
Why do you devote so much time to preaching?
Matthew 24:14 says this good news of the kingdom will be preached and then the end will come.
What is the good news?
And what is the end?
Armageddon, when God destroys the wicked.
So are you saying that the good news Jesus was referring to is that God is soon going to kill billions of people if they don't become Jehovah's Witnesses?
Why does the Watchtower teach that Jesus is not our mediator?
That's not right, Jesus is our mediator.
I researched this online and Watchtower publications definitely say that Jesus is only the mediator for the 144,000, yet the Bible says Jesus is mediator for all mankind.
You cannot believe the lies apostates put online.
I can show you the Watchtower quotes, that way you can verify for me if it is true.
"Likewise, the Greater Moses, Jesus Christ, is not the Mediator between Jehovah God and all mankind. He is the Mediator between his heavenly Father, Jehovah God, and the nation of spiritual Israel, which is limited to only 144,000 members." Worldwide Security under the Prince of Peace (1986) p.10
Why do Jehovah's Witnesses say Jesus returned in 1914?
The prophecy of the seven times in Daniel shows the Gentile times started in 607 B.C.E. and ended in 1914.
Why is 607 B.C. used when virtually all historians and other religions say it was 587 B.C.?
A person should accept what (we interpret) the Bible to say over what historians say.
So the Watchtower requires historians to arrive at 537 B.C as the end of Jerusalem's desolation, but rejects that same history for calculating when it started?
If the last days started in 1914, why are we living in the best time in all history to be alive?
No, we are living in the worst time ever. There have never been so many earthquakes, so much crime, and what about the world wars.
Actually, we are living in best time in history. Earthquakes have been constant for millennia, and we have less violence, war and food shortages than ever before. Life expectancy has doubled over the last 200 years. If you feel life was better before 1914, which century would you pick to live in?
Why has the New World Translation added the word Jehovah to the New Testament when it does not appear in a single discovered document?
Since Jehovah appears in the Old Testament of course Jesus must have used it when quoting these Scriptures, otherwise the Bible would be inconsistent.
Then why doesn't it appear in any existing manuscripts?
Because it was removed after Jesus death.
If you are suggesting that God did not prevent his name being removed from the New Testament without trace, how can I trust anything else in the Bible?
Why don't Jehovah's Witnesses have blood transfusions?
Scriptures like Acts 15:28 show blood must not be used but poured out onto the ground.
What parts of blood can be used?
Don't fractions of blood come from stored blood?
Well yes, ... but using them is a conscience matter.
If you can take blood fractions can you donate blood?
Doesn't that seem like a double standard?
I have heard that Jehovah's Witnesses disfellowship and shun people. What are all the reasons?
For gross sins like adultery and apostasy
How about things not specifically mentioned in the Bible, such as for gambling, smoking, drunkenness, Christmas and so on? (Possibly print out the list of over 30 reasons.)
What is the process?
Meet with 3 elders for a Judicial committee.
How are people treated and for how long?
Must not be talked to until they repent.
What if they never repent?
Well they wouldn't be spoken to again
What about family?Family can be spoken to in emergencies.
Wow, that sounds a lot like how members of a cult behaves.
Jehovah's Witnesses don't worship the Trinity?
You are correct, we must only worship Jehovah God.
But didn't Jehovah's Witnesses worship Jesus until the 1950s?
No, they never worshipped Jesus.
I am quite certain that they did, would you like me to find the old references for you?
Haven't Jehovah's Witnesses had a number of false time-of-the-end prophecies?
They were not false, they were just incomplete. You would have to agree 1914 was a turning point in history.
How about other years like 1925? Millions Now Living Will Never Die p.89 said that "we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old." The Watchtower Society even built a house called Beth Sarim for them. Isn't that a false prophesy?
It was not a prophesy, it was an interpretation
The Watchtower Society do call themselves a prophet. (w72 4/1 p.197, w59 1/15 pp.39-41, w64 10/1 p.601, g86 6/8 p.9) Wouldn't that make Deuteronomy 18:20-22 applicable?
"However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. And in case you should say in your heart: How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken? When the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak."
When did Jehovah's Witnesses start?
There have always been Jehovah's Witnesses.
I thought they were quite a new religion?
Russell started the Watchtower Society in the 1870s, but that was prophesied by Jesus who said the virgins would awaken in the last days.
But you said there have always been Jehovah's Witnesses. So who were they before Russell?
We don't know, but there have always been some worshippers of Jehovah.
So which Jehovah's Witnesses did Russell get his teachings from?
Well no one, God directed him.
Does Holy Spirit direct the Watchtower Society when it forms doctrine?
What Scripture shows only the Watchtower Society is directed by Holy Spirit?
The parable of the Faithful and Discreet slave showed that in the last days Jehovah would choose a special group of people.
When were they chosen?
Though the Watchtower Society was formed in the 1800s, it was not until 1919 that they were chosen, once they had cleansed themselves of false doctrine.
But in 1919 they were still teaching about pyramids, that Abraham was going to be resurrected onto earth in 1925, that Jesus should be worshipped, and celebrating birthdays and Christmas is acceptable, things now taught as being wrong.
Why have there been all these wrong doctrine if holy spirit directs the Watchtower Society?
Proverbs said that the light would get brighter.
That sounds like an excuse for error that any religion could use. I was reading that the Watchtower said the end would be in 1914 and then 1925 and now it is still in the future? A lot of these changes sound like it is different light, not brighter.
Does Holy Spirit direct the Watchtower Society when it appoints elders?
So why are elders appointed when they have been committing serious wrongs, such as shown with the Watchtower Society being forced to pay millions of dollars in compensation to victims of pedophile elders?
Baptism as one of Jehovah's Witnesses is a significant step, as it is a life time commitment to the Watchtower Society. At Matthew 28:18, Jesus commanded that a person be baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. However, baptism as a Jehovah's Witness also stipulates becoming part of the Watchtower organization.
The second question for baptism states:
"(2) Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah's Witnesses in association with God's spirit-directed organization?" Watchtower 1985 Jun 1 p.30
Such a baptism binds you to all Watchtower rules, regardless of whether or not they are from the Bible or you agree with them. Deviation from the rules or disagreeing with the teachings can lead to a life time of shunning by all your Witness family and friends. As such, it is important to be fully aware of what being a Jehovah's Witness entails, including its history and teachings.
Pamphlet for Studies
Knowing these things, is this the type of Organization that you want to serve?
If you ask these questions several things may happen.
- You will be accused of reading lies from apostates.
- It may disturb your study conductor and they will not return.
- Since a new Witness will not be able to answer the questions satisfactorily they may feel it is due to their own inadequacy and instead bring back a more experienced person such as an elder.
- An experienced Witness will not be comfortable being confronted with such questions and is likely to feel that you have bad motives and the study will be terminated.
On the other hand, a searching Witness may be enlightened by your questions, just as you will find it enlightening to observe their response and reactions to your questions.
Other Cart Scripts
Your Own Story
You - Hi, what are you offering today?
JW - Magazine about ...
You - How has it been going?
JW - Good, I have spoken to some nice people.
You - I used to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses. (Include some information, such as where or when.)
JW - Really, why did you leave?
You - There were a number of reasons, but what really made me start thinking was when I found out about … (a topic that mattered to you, such as the handling of child abuse, 607, a documentary on high control religions) and realised that the Watchtower was no different to a number of other groups being classified as cults.
JW - That is all just apostate lies.
You - I was certainly worried about that when I starting doing research. So at first I just did research from the Watchtower's own literature, and encyclopaedias. I found the evidence to be overwhelming.
Responding to "You are an Apostate"
It is inevitable that you will be called an apostate if raising difficult questions at a cart.
JW - So you are an apostate?
You - I don't think of myself as an apostate, any more than you would describe yourself as apostate. Were you raised as a JW, or did you convert?
JW - Converted or parents converted.
You - Would you say your parents are apostates for leaving their religion?
JW - No, but they left a false religion for the truth.
You - Actually, every religion claims they are the truth, and those that leave are apostates. I wouldn't be as presumptuous as to criticise you/your parents as apostates. Just as you/your parents felt they had good reason to change leave their religion, I have good reason why I do not think Watchtower is teaching the truth.
JW - What was such a good reason?
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2023