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Knock knock. Who’s there? Jehovah’s Witness. Jehovah’s Witness, *WHO*??

I think God’s telling me something…and He’s speaking primarily through religious groups that self-identify as Christian. I live next door to a Mormon ward, but I rarely think about them, theologically speaking. Separate from their theology, I believe they are good, well-meaning people. But, I know the alarming statistics that 50% of Mormon converts are lapsed Catholics and that the Mormon church is “the first new major world religion since Islam” according to Rodney Stark, who predicted this in 1984. In fact, from 1984 to 2000, the church actually grew at an average rate of 52% per decade, outpacing the upper bound on Stark’s prediction. Their recruiting campaign is aggressive, to say the least.

Lately, God likes to speak to me in “threes.” Three separate and distinct events led me to believe that I need to learn more of what Mormonism teaches with respect to the Catholic Church, so that I can better arm myself when approached. Currently, I relate what little I know to their claim that a supposed “apostasy” happened upon the death of the last Apostle. Since my arguments tend towards simplistic reasoning, I go more broad in my arguments, rather than getting into what I call “Scripture wars” with non-Catholic Christians. In other words, I rely on the basic message that the Catholic Church teaches rather than try to go “toe-to-toe” with other denominations. The Church does not serve two masters, meaning we stand firm on the foundation given to us by Christ, so there is no need for us to define ourselves against anyone whose beliefs do not match up with ours. We do not even define ourselves against Judaism because they are part and parcel to our identity, our heritage, our belief. Non-Catholic Christians, and even religious sects such as Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witness, have to define themselves against someone or something in order to validate their beliefs, thus my own personal strong conviction that they serve two masters, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

So, in the past two weeks, three separate events overlapped, all convincing me to pursue more study on why Mormons focus so hard on some supposed apostasy when, out of nowhere, there was a knock on the door. In the past, I have missed these “calls to evangelization” because my kids don’t answer the door and my husband doesn’t have the time, energy, or patience to deal with their claims. Having been initially immersed into apologetics before moving into evangelization over the past decade, I am giddy like a little kid at the rare opportunities I get when these “recruiters” come to my door.

My oldest came to me in the kitchen and said, “I think there’s a Mormon at the door.” Poor girl. I nearly trampled over her to get to the front door, all the while quietly redirecting the kids away from the door and instructing them to not bother me while I had my conversation. Deep breath, I adjusted my jacket {it was chilly in the house} and opened the door. It was an older man with a very gentle smile and the standard “tools of evangelization” behind him on the ground. He wasn’t wearing the typical black and white that the Mormons wear, so I guessed he was Jehovah’s Witness and a few minutes later he confirmed when I asked. He asked if he could share some Scripture with me, to which I replied, “SURE! Let me just grab my Bible and I’ll be right back!” I grabbed my Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition and he told me to flip to 2Tim3:16 and read it. I did.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

He asked me if I wanted a brochure and I immediately told him exactly what kind of bear trap he’d stepped into.

“Sir,” I said, “I…my family? We are practicing Catholics and we fully understand what our Faith means to us. In fact, you may have seen my church. It’s the MONSTROUS one off the interstate? You know where yada, yada, yada is and intersects with a, b, c.” I didn’t stop there. I continued, attempting to muscle rank, perhaps. “I actually serve on our pastoral council as the chairperson and serve very closely with our priests to make sure we are meeting the needs of our OVER 20K parishioners. I also helped with our adult faith formation program and evangelization is like my bread and butter. I appreciate your efforts and I know God will bless you for trying to do His work, but there isn’t anything you could say to sway me from my faith. In fact, you should stop by my church sometime or you are welcome to come back to my house with any questions you have about Catholicism. It’s kinda my *thing*.”

Silence. I continue…naturally.

“I am guessing you are ::insert quizzical look and slight forward tilt of head:: Jehovah’s Witness?”

“Yes,” he replies.

“Yes, I am aware of some of what you believe. I have some relatives who fell away from the Faith and became JW.”

“What do you mean when you say ‘they fell away from the Faith,’” he asked.

::delicious wringing of hands in anticipation of where this could go::

“Well, you don’t just *stop* being Catholic if you leave the Church,” I say. “People who are fully initiated, meaning they have received all the sacraments of initiation, are Catholic for life, whether they practice or not. You just can’t undo what the Holy Spirit did.”

He goes on to say, “Well, I have this other piece of Scripture I’d like you to read – Psalms 145:13.”

“Sure,” I say. “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.”

“What does kingdom mean to you?” he asks. I say, “I’m not sure what you mean. What do you think it means?” I shoot back, sincerely.

He grabs a little black book from his “evangelization toolbox” and proceeds to tell me this book explains what Scripture is saying about the word “kingdom.” I listen patiently for him to give me his explanation and then wait for the predictable tag question of “don’t you agree?”

I bring out both barrels and ask for the Holy Spirit’s help in what I’m about to say.

So, after he asked me if I agreed, I had to take him back to square one.

I said, “Actually, I have to take issue with this book. How can you be certain that this interpretation is absolutely, 100% divinely inspired, and therefore 100% correct? You can’t. See, here’s why Catholics believe differently than you. We believe that Christ gave Peter the keys and spoke the Truth when He promised that the gates of hell would never prevail. See, we don’t think Christ was crazy or a liar, we believe He was exactly who He said He was, and, therefore, there was no apostasy. Christ preserved His Bride, our Church, through His promise and the tools and people who would always protect Her through the Magesterium and guided by the Holy Spirit. Individual interpretation of Scripture has always been a self-imposed burden placed on the shoulders of men by…men. So, I guess my question for you would be, ‘What authority did the person who came up with that interpretation of “kingdom” have?’ It would seem no more than authority I could give to myself, you know? The same goes with the countless Christian denominations out there, all claiming that the Holy Spirit is guiding them. We all know that the Holy Spirit would not lead people in different directions. Truth canNOT contradict Truth.” 

About this time, the cohort comes up the walk slowly as the gentleman tries yet again to convince me of his Scripture interpretation. We’ve officially locked horns. I am confident in what Christ left His Church. He is convinced of his convictions. I offer again to share what I know about the Catholic Church to him anytime, wish him well and shut the door. You know? He never gave me a pamphlet. ::sad face::

I walked away from the conversation thinking about the ONE thing he stumped me on…that I didn’t share above. And he only stumped me on it because I brought it up and then drew a blank. He asked me what the Catholic Church teaches about God and His name. Odd question, I remember thinking. I thought of the most compact, succinct, non-theologically trippy topic I could and said, “we teach the Good News about Jesus Christ through the Kerygma {κηρύσσω}…and then promptly forgot what the Kerygma teaches. Stupid brain. I remembered enough to tell him it came from the Catacombs and comes directly from Jesus through the New Testament. I told him to google “kerygma and Catholic” and it would pull it up.

EPIC FAIL on my part, yo. 

I immediately went to my bookshelf in the office where I have my stash of apologetics books and grabbed the 2.5 version on How to Answer Jehovah’s Witnesses. Because my focus had been on Mormons the past couple of weeks, I had forgotten the specifics of why Jehovah’s Witnesses are not considered Christian. Not that it really mattered. I can hold my own in a conversation because I rely on what the Catholic Church teaches and ultimately that’s all that matters, but for the sake of curiosity, I thumbed through the book. It brought back to mind what I had forgotten. I’ve taken classes to learn the holes in their theology, but I’m a little rusty. Here is a quick guide for you if you find JW at your door one day.

JW will attempt to:

  1. prove that Jesus is not God;
  2. show that the Holy Spirit is not a person; and
  3. discredit Bible verses Christians use to support the Trinity

The best any Catholic can hope to do in this situation is to not focus on the precise intricacies of their door-to-door presentations, their muddied up translation of the King James Version Bible or the continuing revelation and their nonstop end time “prediction addictions,” but rather focus on what you know the Catholic Church teaches. Have faith in what God has given us through the Church and that will sustain any argument to shed light on what the Truth Faith is.

It’s nice and helpful to know what they believe, but it’s not paramount to plant seeds.

I want to leave you with one last thought {please don’t run away!!}. I know many seem incredibly offended when it is pointed out that these religious sects are not Christian, but consider this analogy. Let’s say I tell everyone I am vegan, but it is well-known that I eat steak, chicken, fish, and all animal by-products. You point out the hypocrisy and hope that I am just incredibly ignorant. My reaction is, “How dare you tell me I’m not a vegan, why would you think that? Of COURSE I’m a vegan!!” If you’re normal, you would just stare at me like I was utterly lost {and maybe a few choice words to show your disdain}. With Christianity, there is ONE fundamental definition. If I choose to reject even part of what it means to be Christian, I am, by my own admission, deciding not to identify myself as a Christian any longer. It does not make sense for me to force everyone else to stuff my flawed definition into the universally and historically accepted definition of Christianity. That is intellectually dishonest. If one iota was the difference between heresy and orthodoxy centuries ago, then we have to be very wary of groups that change and flip Dogma and Doctrine with no more authority than you or I have. We have to be strong enough to stand up and say “this is not Christian” while remaining charitable. The only way to do this is for Catholics to become strong in their own faith and then go out and evangelize with the same kind of passion these religious sects do.

Have you evangelized to JW’s or Mormons? What did you say? Were you charitable? What would you do differently next time?

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About Martina Kreitzer

I am a 30-something stay-at-home mom to six kiddos, 4/96 through 6/12. We recently decided to homeschool after many years in public school. In my "spare time," I served as the chairperson for the Pastoral Council at my home parish from 2010-2013. I currently help with our Adult Faith Formation program, from the planning committee to facilitating and mentoring incoming facilitators. I also enjoy photography as a hobby. I enjoy talking about all things Catholic and always look to infuse a little bit of humor whenever possible.

November 11, 2011 - 8:13 am

Christine - Thank you so much for your post, Martina! Well done! What you said about focusing on what the Catholic Church teaches rather than going toe-to-toe with them really helped me a lot. In my past convos with peeps that come to my door, I’ve felt that if I don’t directly respond to each thing they say, then I am somehow “running away” from the comments, when in reality it just doesn’t make sense to engage in a messy, never-ending argument. In future scenarios, I’m going to focus on representing the Catholic Church in truth and charity. :)

November 11, 2011 - 8:30 am

Marie - Bravo! As much as I loooooooooooooooooove a good debate I just really choose to not engage in debates with JW’s or Mormons. They usually come at a rotten time and I just tell them that I’m not interested. My husband says “I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but we’re very comfortable with our Faith life and I’d encourage you to look elsewhere.” It’s just the better way to go about it – but I do realize that I’m missing the opportunity to evangelize back with them. Maybe if I get a bit more well-versed in apologetics I’ll give it a try. If they would just come at a convenient time! ;)

November 11, 2011 - 9:16 am

Jaclyn - I think you are spot on as far as people being offended when you try to use a word with a definition!!! Shouldn’t every word be open to each individual’s interpretation? (not sure how we would communicate at all that way) You don’t own that word! Like Christian. Other examples are marriage, sex, and pregnant. If you redefine these words to have no meaning then anything goes and don’t you go trying to impose your definitions on me!
Heaven forbid I try to express a conflicting argument- I am seriously considering coming up with my own new words for those concepts just so people will stop getting angry when I start to “hijack” them.

November 11, 2011 - 10:18 am

Mary Ann Kreitzer - Super post, Martina. I enjoy engaging with the door to door evangelizers. I admire their zeal. I wish we Catholics were as zealous about our faith. What I’ve found is they bring up the Old Testament verse about not drinking blood when they find you are Catholic and I always respond with John 6. Catholics today really need to know their faith and immerse themselves in Scripture. As St. Jerome says, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”

November 11, 2011 - 12:07 pm

Jeanne - One of my favorite REversion stories came about because of JW’s. My Aunt received a knock and welcomed the women in because she was curious as to what they had to say. Ironically, the questiond they posed encouraged her to start questioning the Catholic faith, leading her right to square one, Apostolic Succession.
She continued the talks with the women for quite some time, until I believe one of THEM said they could no longer speak to her because they didn’t get anywhere. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt that she, through her reversion and understanding of the Catholic faith, may have planted many seeds in them. She is one of the most faithful Catholics I know, thanks to those JW’s.
We have to take every opportunity we get, sometimes they’re presented to us much differently than we’d expect.
Great Job, Martina!! (And I had to LOL at tripping over your daughter!)

November 11, 2011 - 12:13 pm

Leticia Adams - John Chapter 6 is what I always read with anyone who is not Catholic. It is my first weapon. It usually gets blank stares from anyone who is not Catholic. Their leaders don’t even go there so they have no idea those verses even exist most of the time.

Great Post.
Leticia Adams recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 4)My Profile

November 11, 2011 - 10:18 pm

jean - I have talked at length to both Mormons and JW and have been (of course) totally unconvinced. I realised that they are NOT open to anything we might say, they have a standard answer which they stick to regardless. I just take their leaflet, tell them I’m a Catholic and quote St Thomas More’s remark to his accusers when he was sentenced to death “I look forward to meeting you in Heaven and having a laugh at how wrong we ALL were”. Not I hasten to add that the CHURCH is mistaken but MY understanding may be faulty. Then I close the door, politely.

November 14, 2011 - 2:51 pm

Emily - I’m late catching up on my reading… but wanted to say thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. I’ve never been given the opportunity to have one of these conversations – I suppose that’s one of the benefits(?) of living in a gated neighborhood. But one day I’d love to have the opportunity and thank you for your insights – I hope I can be as eloquent and charitable! :)

November 14, 2011 - 3:25 pm

Elizabeth Smith - I can appreciate your thoughts, but Mormon Missionaries will not debate you, at least they are not supposed to. We do not believe in being pushy nor confrontational. We believe only in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to testify of Jesus Christ and to give every person a chance to hear the Gospel and accept it. We also believe in individual agency. We respect every person’s right to choose their God and their beliefs. Never have I heard another religion disparaged in one of our meetings nor do we study how to debate them. We love our Catholic brothers and sisters. My father was raised by Catholic Nuns; and many of my friends and relatives are Catholic. I have attended your church services many times. I assure you, we have more in common than you think. If you want to know about Mormons, then ask a Mormon, not a Catholic. We are very much Christians, infact, our whole religion is centered on Christ. Are Mormons perfect like Christ? No, we are very imperfect humans, but we try to follow His example. Isn’t that the definition of “Christian?” “One who follows Christ?”
You are doing a good work here. Keep it up. I appreciate your dedication to Christianity.
Elizabeth Smith
Elizabeth Smith recently posted..Happy FamilyMy Profile

November 14, 2011 - 4:04 pm

Lindsey - Elizabeth –
I can appreciate what you are saying, but I have to disagree. No Mormon Missionaries are not supposed to debate, but they do, and they shouldn’t be pushy but they are. If they weren’t then why do they issue the challenge the be baptized after the FIRST discussion, and very slight introduction into Mormon Beliefs?

I was a convert to the LDS church 10 years ago. Prior to learning about the LDS church I was agnostic by default because I was not raised to know God or even with a base knowledge of Christ.
I was actively attending my local ward and already believed in what I was taught before I took the missionary discussions. If I had met with the missionaries at the beginning of the experience I would have been very put off. After one 30 minute meeting where they taught me the nature of God and Christ and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about what Mormons believe they invited me to pick a baptism date – not knowing AT ALL what I thought of what they taught me, nor did they know what I did or did not believe. That is presumption and pushy.

I had a wonderful experience with the church, and I loved my faith, and fully believed all I had been taught. I felt close to God and like I was doing what He wished me to do. I was righteous and followed the commandments and church teachings. I married my husband in the temple.
I faced many doubts, buried them away, only to have them resurface again and again. Last year I finally explored them and I discovered something amazing. My doubts were NOT being driven by Satan, no amount of reading the Book of Mormon or attending the temple could have stopped the forces at work, because it was GOD.

God was calling me home. To finally learn of who He truly is. Not some muddled version invented by Joseph Smith, for whatever reason, I won’t try and assign him motive.
No, God was NOT once a man, No, Christ is NOT just His son. God is SO much more than I could have ever imagined Him to be when I was a Mormon.
Yes, a Christian is “one who follows Christ”, but I don’t think you truly follow Christ if you strip Him of His divinity and make Him merely a man – still chosen, but essentially no different than you or I were in the beginning. That is WRONG and blasphemous.

I didn’t really intend for my reply to turn into this, but I do believe in everything I said and have to share it.
Prayers for you and your family Elizabeth.

November 15, 2011 - 12:16 pm

Martina - Elizabeth,

It’s a nice sentiment to think that we are all Christian, but the reality is that the Catholic Church *never* went through an apostasy because Christ did not lie. There is absolutely no Biblical evidence to support Joseph Smith’s claims…which, by the way, his understanding of the Catholic Church was basically zero since he was raised some version of non-Catholic Christian denomination. The reason why Mormons won’t debate is because it doesn’t take much at all to expose the holes in LDS theology. Let’s go out on a branch and assume legitimacy in JS’ claim to being the one true church. *IF* that were true, you have TWO branches within the Mormon church that claim the other is “in apostasy.” {I find the use of that word to be a bit excessive, to be honest}. So, even within your OWN faith, you still have an apostasy…and further, if you believe the definition for Christianity that JS set up, then none of the rest of us Christians would be considered Christian by your OWN definition…if we are being intellectually consistent.

No…the reality is that Joseph Smith chose on his own {not through a vague mix of apostles revealed in a vision} to reject the Christian definition…which renders Mormonism *not* Christian. There is too much relying on “feelings” and “please read this and pray that the Spirit reveals to you…” sorry God doesn’t work like that. Not when it comes to theology.

If you want to know what the EXACT definition of Christianity, it is in the Apostles Creed, left BY the Apostles. You can also read it through the Nicene Creed…which is considered our Profession of Faith. It’s not enough to say “one who follows Christ.” I pray for our separated brethren who have fallen for the lies perpetuated by men like Joseph Smith, who I state again did not have any authority to redefine Christianity.

As Lindsey pointed out, Mormonism strips Jesus of His divinity. Mormons do not believe that Jesus was begotten of the Father and do not believe Jesus was 100% fully divine and 100% fully human.

I believe in one God, the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial
with the Father;
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.

For our sake he was crucified
under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son
is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic,
and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection
of the dead and the life of the world to come.
Martina recently posted..Knock knock. Who’s there? Jehovah’s Witness. Jehovah’s Witness, *WHO*??My Profile

November 16, 2011 - 1:45 pm

John - I’m copying this so I can absorb the column

November 16, 2011 - 1:50 pm

Jack - \\their muddied up translation of the King James Version Bible\\

Jehovah’s False Witnesses use their own New World Mistranslation of the Bible. It has NOTHING to do with the KJV.

Twice I have locked horns with them. The trick is to take control of the conversation, because their whose schtick is to try to control and lead the conversation themselves.

This is what I did in my last two encounters with them, and THEY walked out.

November 16, 2011 - 1:57 pm

Jack - \\ If you want to know about Mormons, then ask a Mormon, not a Catholic. \\

OK, Elizabeth Smith, then I will ask you a question.

Once upon a a time what Christians call the Virgin Birth, Mormons called it such by courtesy only. Modesty and piety prevent my going into more detail here.

Do Mormons still teach that?

If not, when did they change?

I KNOW the Book of Mormon, which your deceased Living Prophet Joseph Smith called “the most correct book of any book on earth” was changed 4000 times before 1983, when verses were added that appeared in no previous edition.

I myself prefer to be a member of the Church that doesn’t change her doctrines.

November 16, 2011 - 2:00 pm

John Dennett - Wonderful dialouge. I too have been challenged by Mormon FRIENDS and have had time to reflect on my faith and beliefs. I have studied scripture to build a foundation for my agrument. But I keep going back to the Bible, as a whole. There is no other text so pure,divine and complex that the mysterious of the Bible will NEVER be fully revealed or understood. If that is true, how can a new religion re-write the Gospels to the reformed gospel. In addition, when reversals in dogma occur; plural marriages and the exclusion of people of color in leadership is changed from a vision of their prophet – it would make me look even deeper to the source of thier faith (Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormom) Seek the truth in all

November 16, 2011 - 3:33 pm

OC Catholic - Elizabeth, that is a very beautiful picture of your family. We had Mormon neighbors, and although we didn’t see eye to eye on religion, they were very good friends and I miss them. They treated us with much more respect than our Catholic neighbors, even though we went to the same church. I think that you are right in that we share much in common. Devout Catholics and devout Mormons. In a sense, devout Mormons are more Catholic than many Catholics, which makes their religion attractive and why many Catholics leave the Catholic church for Mormonism. My brother in law, converted from Mormonism to the Catholic faith, and is a much more devout Catholic than most of my family. God works in mysterious ways.

November 16, 2011 - 6:32 pm

Rosemary - Thanks for this, Martina. Today for the second time in two months a very sweet lady from the JW came to my door, this time with her adorable teenage daughter. I was actually sorry that I had to tell them the truth, that I was late for a meeting. I did tell the mom that Tuesdays would be better, and would she come back for a cup of tea? I taught CCD for 12 years at my parish, and it was a great blessing because I learned that most people latch onto JW and LDS due to ignorance, not rancor against the Church (although that is likely true for some).
What most JW may not understand is that many of their arguments (yes, they relate to the negative) were also proposed by pagans in the early years of the Church. In holding onto the pagan arguments, they undermine their motives.
Anyway, I plan to have a very pleasant time with the nice JW lady. She’s God’s daughter, too.

November 16, 2011 - 7:05 pm

Kathryn - @ Leticia:

You said,

“John Chapter 6 is what I always read with anyone who is not Catholic. It is my first weapon. It usually gets blank stares from anyone who is not Catholic. Their leaders don’t even go there so they have no idea those verses even exist most of the time.”

It gets blank stares from anyone who is not Catholic? Really? Mainstream Protestants read this chapter. I don’t know about JWs and Mormons.

Their leaders don’t even go there? Again, mainstream Protestant leaders do — and it does not lead to belief in the Real Presence, which I assume is why you read this chapter. They always have a way to explain it away. They teach that the bread and wine are symbols only. I have been Catholic too long to recall exactly what they say to explain away the exact words Jesus spoke, but John 6 doesn’t stymie them at all. I am thus confused as to why it is your “first weapon.” Could you explain more? Thanks.

November 16, 2011 - 8:15 pm

Doug - Recently, I was at the local shopping mall, helping my 90 year-old mom handle some last minute Christmas gift exchanges, when a nicely dressed older gentlemen stepped up and inquired whether we knew that Jesus was going to return soon, and that he (Jesus) would (among other things) bring an end to all pain and suffering.

Sensing we might be a while, I asked my mom to take a nearby seat.

“Yes,” I said. “When Jesus comes again, our mortal bodies will be instantly transformed into glory, there will be judgment, and for those who pass muster, there will indeed be no more suffering, no more tears, and no more death.”

More…

http://douglawrence.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/a-chance-encounter-with-a-jeh/

November 17, 2011 - 12:31 am

Chris (or, Buster) - I have to disagree. Though JW and Mormons are not Christians, the validness of their baptism is what makes or breaks them as a Christian. Now heretic or orthodox is different. I have met plenty of heretical and schismatic Christians. :)
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November 17, 2011 - 12:47 am

Maria - One of my favorite encounters with JWs was when they came to the door and I was having a meeting with FOUR Catholic homeschool moms. I know it was hardly fair, but we did invite them in for a chat.

I have found it helpful sometimes to point out (in a friendly way) to Mormons and JW the similarities with their religions and Islam in respect to the Trinity. This gets some who are lapsed Christians really thinking.

November 17, 2011 - 3:12 am

Mark - As much as I would love to see a Mormon or JW convert on the spot, I know that will never happen so I don’t bother with scriptural arguments because they are trained not to humor them. I like to take the approach of planting a nagging question that will haunt them day in and day out and which might someday lead to them seriously questioning what they believe. Here are a few examples:

1) “Hypothetically speaking, how would you feel / what would happen if you found out tomorrow (definitively) that your religion were false?” This challenges them to explore the possibility of that happening and how it would affect them. If refuse to acknowledge even the slightest possibility of this happening, it is a great way to show them they are extremely close-minded (some of them won’t care). If they will contemplate the question honestly, there is much hope for them. This is a great question to assess where they are at and if there is any point in going further with them.

2) “Hypothetically speaking, if the JW/Mormon religion were NOT true, how would you find that out? What would have to take place in order for you to realize that?” This challenges them to actually question “Have I ever done what I need to do to make sure my religion is REALLY true?”

3) “You have most likely heard a lot about Catholicism (and other denominations/religions) from your organization’s resources, but have you ever actually gone on your own to the Catholic Church’s Resources (and others) themselves to investigate the Church’s claims? Are you sure you really know what she (they) teaches and why? If you are going to reject something, shouldn’t you know exactly what you are rejecting and why?” Then give them a Catechism that you bought cheap off amazon.com or at a used bookstore and challenged them to read it.

So far these questions seem to have been very difficult for the people to whom I have asked them.

November 17, 2011 - 11:03 am

Jan - I learned this from a former JW: The best way to evangelize a JW is to become their friend. Listen. Ask questions that plant seeds of doubt about what they believe. Invite them back. Be prepared with more questions (based on what they said the first visit) that will plant more seeds of doubt, but lead them to think that they are succeeding in gaining your interest.
JW’s have no friends other than other JW’s. Their lives are consumed with JW meetings and missionary calls. If they want to leave, they have nowhere to go. Their family and friends will disown them. Be there for them when they are ready to leave. They will not come back if they think you are trying to convert them. They are not allowed. So you need to just keep asking those troubling questions. That is where your books on JW’s comes in handy, but going on the offensive won’t work well. You’ll win the battle lose a soul.
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November 18, 2011 - 3:06 pm

Ginger - I converted from “mainstream Christianity” to the LDS faith when I was 21. It has been the best decision of my life! Lindsey, if you believed for 10 years that the LDS faith strips Christ of His divinity, then you misunderstood what you were being taught. If one iota of difference makes someone not a Christian, then anyone who is not Catholic is not Christian. “Mainstream Christianity” comes in many varieties with various beliefs. What unites them is that they all believe that Christ was the son of our Heavenly Father, and that through Him, we can be forgiven of our sins so that we may once again dwell with our Heavenly Father. That belief did not change for me as I converted to the LDS faith.

I am not schooled and studied in how to argue against any other religion as you are, but I really believe that you should study a religion from that particular religion’s point of view rather than from a non-member’s point of view. Many of your “facts” are inaccurate and/or misguided and/or misunderstood.

Jan’s instructions on how to befriend someone and plant seeds of doubt “feels” wrong to me. If you’re going to plant seeds, have them be seeds of faith, seeds of love, and not seeds of doubt.

Mark –
1 – Although I don’t believe that I’ll find out that my religion is wrong, *IF* that happened, then I would want to correct it. I want to be in the service of my God, and I want to be where I can do the most good for Him. I want to align myself with His truths and live as He would have me live. I believe that I am doing that now as I live my LDS life.
2 – Yes, I have done what I need to do in order to feel as though I have chosen correctly. How did you come to “know” that your religion is correct? For me, I always had feelings and ideas of how things should be, such as: if God is so loving, and He knew that times would be increasingly evil in the latter-days, why would He give us only scripture that is constantly debated rather than also giving us a prophet to lead and guide us through the difficulties of an increasingly evil world? When missionaries told me that there was a prophet on the earth today, I felt peace at last! Our God really is loving! As I studied and prayed both LDS and anti- information, I came to feel the Holy Spirit tell me that the LDS Church taught truth and righteousness and that it was correct for me to join myself with it.
3 – Have you done this, sir? Have you attended an LDS Church? Have you studied LDS beliefs according to LDS sources? Considering I am a convert to the faith, yes I have attended other churches, read other doctrine, studied other beliefs, and this is the one that I found to be truth. But have you done this? From the comments I have heard from others on this thread, it sounds as though the information you have on my faith is faltered and misunderstood. I hope you’ll read it again, read the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine & Covenants and listen to the prophets of this dispensation to make your decisions on the church and teach others how to argue against something so wonderful.

Again, I’m not studied in how to argue against other religions. We don’t see it as necessary, or even friendly! Everyone may choose for themselves and although I do believe my church is “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” I can’t tell others that they are wrong to believe the bits and pieces of truth that they have. I won’t tell you that Catholics are wrong, but I will say that I believe the LDS faith to be correct. I hope you’ll stop fighting it and rather embrace and love your LDS neighbors.

November 18, 2011 - 4:06 pm

Martina - **anyone who is not Catholic is not Christian. “Mainstream Christianity” comes in many varieties with various beliefs.**

I disagree with this because mainstream Christianity does not reject Christ as being 100% fully divine and 100% fully human. There are other religious sects beyond JW and Mormonism that *do* reject the definition of Christianity as well, and the burden of that rejection is on the shoulders of the creators of those beliefs…and to a lesser extent, the followers. You really need to read the Creed that I posted above because if Mormonism REALLY does believe in all of that above, then I would be interested to read a link from your church website that cites your church doctrine that states that you uphold the belief in the Trinity that is the *SAME* as it has been for the Catholic Church all these years.

**I really believe that you should study a religion from that particular religion’s point of view rather than from a non-member’s point of view. Many of your “facts” are inaccurate and/or misguided and/or misunderstood.**

This point could be valid from the standpoint that this particular article deals with Jehovah’s Witness, but I know you are speaking specifically about Mormonism, for which I have not stated that I have gotten my information from Catholics. Lindsey, who has posted here, is the person, among others, who I look to to get my information. The realization that you need to understand is that I know my *own* Faith well enough that it doesn’t take much listening to Mormons to see where the holes are in their own theology.

Too much of Mormonism is centered on “pray and see if God reveals x, y, z to you…” it’s too dependent on emotions that are ultimately tainted by sin. The problem is that if I ask you for hard evidence to prove what Joseph Smith says was true, you {sadly} wouldn’t be able to produce anything. Did you know that the Catholic Church welcomes and embraces the criticisms that the secular world throws at it? Have you ever researched Incorruptibles? Or Eucharistic Miracles?

I pray that instead of continuing down the path of vague faith that the Mormon church teaches, you will be open to both Faith *and* reason that the Catholic {which means “universal”} Church teaches. You will be blown away when you do. God bless.
Martina recently posted..Knock knock. Who’s there? Jehovah’s Witness. Jehovah’s Witness, *WHO*??My Profile

November 18, 2011 - 7:46 pm

Robb - Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus.

November 18, 2011 - 9:10 pm

Nick - I think you did just fine given that you had no preparation time. I’d say almost any time I’m in such a situation, I always make at least one dumb mistake, but otherwise I hold my ground.

If you want to totally pull the rug out from under a JW, be aware of their ultra critical 1914 doctrine and set them up just as you were already doing:
http://catholicnick.blogspot.com/2011/01/1914-house-built-on-sand-jehovahs.html

November 18, 2011 - 10:07 pm

Lindsey - Ginger -
When I joined the LDS church I was actively seeking God. I believed fully in what I was taught there, and thought I had a personal relationship with Christ. But I was left longing. Yes there were many reasons I ultimately decided to leave the church, I won’t list them here, because that is not pertinent to the discussion, one of the major ones in the end was Christ.
Why is it that Christ himself (in the LDS point of view) was unable to establish His church in a lasting way? Why was it doomed to fail from the begin, despite His promise that it wouldn’t? And why if Christ could not do it, nor His apostles manage to carry it on and pass on the authority to keep His church on the earth…then why was Joseph Smith able to? Why did it take 1800 years to re-establish the church? Why make all of those people live in darkness from truth for so long?
The answer is far more simple than Joseph Smith thought, and it was that Christ’s church never left, and He remained ever present in it.
I do think Mormons strip Christ of His divinity, because just as Martina said, he is 100% divine and 100% man – He is God, He is the Word made flesh. He is NOT a spirit child elevated to Savior just because he raised his hand and said “send me”.

If your belief in God and Christ did not change when you became a Mormon then I’d say you had a faulty understanding to start with, or you do not understand what you believe now.
Also if you’d really like to know about the church of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, I’d suggest you listen to this podcast (yes it will take you 4 hours, and you might balk because the woman being interviewed is a Fundamentalist Mormon, but I’m sure you have misperceptions of them, just as the rest of the world does, and you probably don’t realize they hold true the the original Mormonism far more than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does.) http://mormonstories.org/?p=199 (sorry this just links you to parts 1 and 2) I’d also recommend you listen to more of the podcasts on this site, as well as mormonexpression.com.

You are in my prayers.

November 19, 2011 - 12:34 pm

Fr. J - You did a good job. I had someone who lived near a Kingdom Hall. I told them to buy a statue of Mary and put it right out where they could see it as they drove out of their parking lot. He loved the idea and it cut down on visits. You might consider that for your Mormon ward next door.

November 19, 2011 - 4:22 pm

Nancy Marie - Thank you for the article, Martina. As a not-very-well catechized cradle Catholic who spent years away from the Church, I knew and talked with Mormons, some of whom were my in-laws. I thought at the time they were Christians, but have since spent much time studying and gradually have learned more about my own faith (having been reborn Catholic about 15 yrs. ago) and more about Mormon teachings as well and have come to recognize they are not. I liked your vegan analogy, My analogy would be to ask “If I say I am a Mormon, I just don’t believe in the Book of Mormon, in any of the writings of Joseph Smith, or in most Mormon doctrines, am I really a Mormon?

I did go to both Mormon sources and also read the contributions of ex-Mormons to learn about the doctrines or beliefs that they espouse. One reason for the confusion of current LDS members may be that they do change teachings over time and they may currently not emphasize some of the more “out there” ideas, although I think those are still contained in Church doctrine, not sure on the current status. It is very difficult to have a discussion with any Mormon as well as JW (I don’t know as much about JWS) because they use the same words we use when referring to Jesus or the Father, but they have a very different meaning.

As to the door-to-door missionaries, I have had experiences with some very pushy ones. When I took in my teenage granddaughter to live with me, her LDS relatives had them call on us. I allowed them to talk with her a few times since they were sent by family, but before a week had gone by they were trying to have her baptized. I sat them down and told them this was not going to happen while my granddaughter was living with us, a Catholic family, and the missionaries did listen at the time but it put a big rift between my granddaughter and me. I later had more missionaries at the door, one set told me they would be back when my granddaughter was 18 and that they would wait for her outside the house if I wouldn’t let them in. I called the ward and that stopped for a while. That’s when I really read up on LDS.

They continued to rediscover my address and call every so often, so after my granddaughter went off to college I invited the next two in. We ended up having 3 pretty extensive debates, and I hope some seeds were planted, but they never came back for a 4th.

I think the most important questions to ask of any of these missionaries is “Who do you think Jesus is?” and “What does your belief about God have to tell you about human life and human dignity?” Because Catholic teachings inform us about who we are as human beings, while the LDS or JW concept of God fails to do that. As John Paul II states, Jesus Christ “fully reveals man to himself, and makes his divine purpose clear.” In His Incarnation, God sanctifies humanity.

Another important question is on the issue of authority and apostolic succession. They want to quote Joseph Smith from 150 yrs. ago as an authority, but dismiss the Church fathers from the first century as non-biblical. But Peter’s authority is clearly established and the bible includes the letters of the early church showing that the apostles appointed bishops and priests to those churches.

Lighthouse Catholic media has a good CD by a former LDS missionary named Thomas Smith, entitled “From Mormon Missionary to the Catholic Faith.” – Hope I am not too long-winded here, thanks again for the discussion opportunity.
Nancy Marie recently posted..The Politics of the Washington State Budget CutsMy Profile

November 20, 2011 - 11:06 am

Patricia - Two memorable incidences of Mormon visits come to mind: the first occurred as we were driving out of your driveway and encountered two well-dressed young men on the way. I stopped and they asked if we knew Jesus Christ. With a twinkle in my eye I happily announced that yes indeed we knew Him well and as a matter of fact we were going to see Him right now (my boys were making their first confession). They had a confused look as we drove away. Another time I spoke with another two young men at length explaining that I was no way going to ever consider leaving the Church founded by Christ. After they left I remembered Father Neuhaus had an short article in a recent First Things addressing whether Mormons were Christians. I dug it up, got in my car and drove around looking for them. They looked very surprised as I gave them the magazine and I told them that I was letting them borrow it to read the article. They promised they would return it. They never did.
Patricia recently posted..The Virgin of Guadalupe: Patroness of Mundare SoapsMy Profile

November 20, 2011 - 12:33 pm

K.C.Thomas - The fact is that many of the Catholics are not fully equipped with the knowledge about the Catholic Church. For example, these non catholic evangelists quote some parts of scriptures and try to establish that Mother Mary is only an ordinary person and no special saintliness is attached. Another issue is that Catholics keep statues and they are idol worshippers. The simple Catholics are not able to counter their arguments and so sometimes they are hoodwinked by persistent visits and overplaying fellowship.If we tell what we believe and what deficiency they have in faith, many of these preachers will go away and will not dare visit again

November 21, 2011 - 7:20 pm

Jonathan - Most Catholics get nervous when others quote scripture at them because we cannot quote verses back. It can be very useful to look at the verse quoted in context. Most have memorized verses to say but do not know the verses before and after them that explain the real meaning of the verse. Catholics have an excellent sense of scripture and its meaning even though they cannot quote chapter and verse. If asked a question, Catholics can usually give an understanding of what Jesus said but not his exact words.
Concerning LDS, if they quote scripture it may be from the Book of Mormon and this will catch most Christians off guard because the verse does not sound familiar yet we don’t want to admit that we don’t know. The problem that the Catholic Church has with LDS is they have a different conception of God. It is very difficult to get a Mormon to explain “Mother God” as they try to do their door to door ministry. This belief is so alien to a Christian concept of monotheism and trinity.
God bless your efforts

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