I got to fence with a Jehovah’s Witness the other day. It was an elderly man doing door-knocking and offerring tracts.
I was annoyed at not being told straightaway that he was a JW, and told him so. Though, to his credit once faced with this he was more than happy to acknowledge he was. But his method of proselytising was to talk about Heaven.
Hmm. My usual response to JWs is to invite them to my church. JWs don’t usually like that because they are taught to firmly believe that they and only they have the right scripture and message. And they have a reputation for isolating themselves from the world, which is counter, I believe, to the way Jesus (and Paul!) taught us to witness. My visitor fit these to a T. He didn’t want to come to visit my church, but wouldn’t say that outright. His argument was about “proof” of The Truth. He even invited me to “prove” my beliefs.
He didn’t get it. He just didn’t get it.
Offering up a religious tract as ‘proof’ of The Way To Live is going to turn people off. It turns me off. It requires pre-existing belief in JW-sanctioned scripture. Belief might work that way for some people, but put them in the world, and it doesn’t. People find their own beliefs and often in fellowships of people caring about them first.
That was what I was offering to my visitor: the chance to see a church-based community interested in caring for a potential new member, without starting from a checklist of spiritual beliefs. Of course, for just such a person to question the JW world he’s lived in for 40 years, presenting an alternative checklist might be what he requires. But I decided that providing an opportunity to step outside his world was what I should be offering.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t take. Like I said further up, he didn’t get it.
But it did set me thinking about what I do believe in, and to some extent why. I’m becoming fairly progressive and liberal in my Christianity. I have rallied for sometime against the problem of sanctioned scripture: which explains why I’m not Catholic or Anglican. Also explains why I could never buy into the JW or Mormon world-view.
Arguing religious “proof” isn’t going to work for me. It’s just going to make you like isolated and brainwashed.