Intro: Over the years as I’ve spoken to members of Reformed churches, I’ve noticed that far too many don’t know what to do when the door-bell rings and they find themselves face to face with Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons. In most cases they simply try their hardest to get them to go away as quickly as possible, and a few have admitted to me that they will pretend they aren’t home instead of opening the door.
In doing this we are missing an opportunity to witness for Christ to people who are in the most pitiable of situations; they think they have entered via the narrow gate and are on their way to salvation, but are in fact following blind guides down the broad path that leads to destruction. Witnessing to cultists is far from easy, but I would argue that it falls under the calling of all Christians to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15)
Accordingly, I’ve put together this brief guide designed for laymen and those with no prior experience on how to begin the process of “witnessing to the (false) witnesses.” Rather than reinventing the wheel, I’ve also included links to the profiles and beliefs of the JWs and Mormons provided online by CARM (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry).
Also OSP pastors and planters take note, if your congregation members can’t/won’t defend or present their faith to cultists, chances are very poor that they will be willing to do so with friends, relatives, and coworkers as those confrontations are actually in many respects more difficult because those confrontations are far more personal. It’s one thing to tell someone you’ve never met before and quite possibly never will again that you think they are going to hell, but it’s another thing entirely to say that to grandma or the coworker they see every day.
Cultists on Your Doorstep
A Brief and Untechnical guide to interacting with cultists going Door-to-Door
Your doorbell rings, you open the door and there stand two well-dressed young men who want to give you a small blue bible and talk to you for a moment. What should you do?
I) Pray! Even as you begin to interact with them, lift up a silent “arrow” prayer for God’s help and defense as you speak with them.
II) Figure out which organization they are with. Most cult organizations will travel in groups of at least two when doorknocking. Some giveaways that will allow you to figure out which one they are with:
1) Two young men (around 17), both wearing “Elder” name badges and white shirts and ties: Mormons. They will identify themselves as being with “The Church of Jesus Christ” and less commonly “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints.”
2) Two individuals (male or female), well dressed with copies of “Awake!” or “The Watchtower”: Jehovah’s Witnesses (hereafter JWs). The will identify themselves as being with some permutation of “The Watchtower.”
If you can’t tell immediately, just ask them, “Are you Mormons?” or simply “What organization are you with?” They will tell you. You may have to translate the name however, as they like to fly under the radar.
Why is it important? So you will have some idea of who they are and thus what they really believe, and how to speak to them. This is especially important as Mormons are now marketing themselves as a Christian organization in their witnessing and want you to think of them as your brothers in Christ.
III) If you aren’t yet comfortable enough in your own understanding of the Christian faith, then don’t invite them in, politely tell them you aren’t interested in talking or taking their literature. This is the less preferable option however, for a number of reasons.
If you are comfortable in your understanding of Christianity, invite them in. (The exception being if it is a single member of the opposite sex and you are alone.) You may be used in their conversion, and at the very worst, you will slow down their progression through the neighborhood. Invite them to sit down. They usually will.
Some basic ground rules: Neither will generally accept refreshments beyond water. JWs are specifically told not to take any “apostate literature.” Mormons will generally be willing to listen more and talk less than JWs, keep in mind you only have about an hour to talk with them at most. With JWs, one will be the leader, and the other the learner. The one doing the most talking is usually the leader. Use either a KJV or an NKJV in witnessing to them. Both groups will generally accept quotes only from the KJV, the JW’s however have their own Bible, called the New World Translation. As a translation, it’s hopeless, its primary purpose is to transmit faulty JW theology. For instance “1 In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” (John 1:1 NWT) Neither will generally accept tracts or other materials from you unless you’ve really made headway with them.
Basic Presuppositions: JWs will generally be local people. Mormon visitors generally will not be local. You are just another potential notch in their belt, their objective is to get you to come to a meeting, they want to get you interested in their organization. Your objective is to teach the truth about Christ, refute their teaching from the bible and somehow be used of God in leading them to a saving knowledge of the Gospel. Remember the consequences to them of leaving false religion. They will lose their friends, their “base,” and oftentimes alienate their family. Conversion for them is socially a VERY BIG DEAL – bigger even in some cases than non-cultists.
Plan Your Interaction: Part of your time will inevitably be spent listening to them, it has to be or you won’t gain the right to talk to them. Remember not to venture much into history, stick to the Bible as much as possible. A good tack is to ask them a question about an unbiblical doctrine they teach, and after they explain it, adopting the Columbo routine: “There’s just one thing I don’t understand…” and then going to texts that unequivocally refute what they teach. As you interact, be doing all you can to show them, gently and respectfully, that their feet are planted in thin air and that the word doesn’t actually teach the doctrines they have been taught.
Brief Backgrounds and Beliefs of the Two Main Organizations
Jehovah’s Witnesses & Mormons
(links to profiles from CARM – CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS & RESEARCH MINISTRY – http://www.carm.org)
Basic Bible Verses to Help You in Witnessing to JWs
Acts 5:3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?
4 “While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
(Also ask them how one can lie to “a force” and not a person? Can you lie to electricity, for instance?)
Luke 3:21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. 22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”
Col. 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
(Ask the Witnesses if Jesus is an Angel and if we should worship Him (they will answer “yes” and “no”) – then read this text:)
NKJ Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”? 6 But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”
(who is the first and last? “Jehovah”)
Rev. 1:17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
Exodus 3:14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ “
(who is the I AM? “Jehovah”)
John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” 59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
(“Should we Worship any Created thing?” – JWs will answer “no”. Here are texts in which JESUS receives worship and DOESN’T rebuke those who worship Him:)
John 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Luke 24:51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
Matthew 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Matt. 28:9 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
Matt. 14:33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” 34 When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret.
John 9:35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” 36 He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 37 And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” 38 Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him. 39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
(What happens in the bible when mere CREATURES are worshipped?:)
Rev. 22:8 Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
Acts 10:25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.”