Construyendo los cimientos intelectuales para la futura civilización cristiana.

Jehovah’s Witnesses vs. The Shorter Catechism

By Roger Oliver

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What do you do when the Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on your door? My mother used to ask them why they didn’t salute the national flag. That seemed to do the trick. Considering where we are nowadays as a nation I’m wondering if they were onto something in that area. An evangelist friend takes over the conversation. “I am really happy that you are interested in spiritual things. Has anyone ever taken a Bible and shown you how you can know you are going to heaven?  May I?”[1] He talks so fast they can’t get a word in edgewise. I can’t. They always come by my house on Sunday morning when we are getting ready for Sunday service in our little house church. The have kind of given up on the “güeros altos” (tall white people) so they pretty much leave us alone.

A visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses can be intimidating. They are taught to be intimidating. If you get in a disagreement with a Mormon they will try to beat you with kindness. If you get into a disagreement with a Jehovah’s Witness they will get angry and argue with you. My advice: if they ask you to join them in a Bible Study, don’t do it unless it is your calling and ministry. They will take over you house and dominate the study with their heretical agenda. It’s an ancient heresy you don’t want to get involved with. If you live near one of their meeting places and are regularly assaulted with these visits AND you feel called to this, a very good resources is Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, by Ron Rhodes.[2] Ron’s calling is to deal with the heretical sects and he is very good at it.

If this is not your calling, what do you do when they come to the door? You don’t want to be rude but most of us don’t have the time to study the particulars of their heresy to be able to respond really well. We kind of think we need a seminary education or at least a course in the sects in order to deal with them. Not so. From the mouth of babes.

niño leyendo bibliaIn the Learning Center we teach the Westminster Shorter Catechism to the children and have a competition with a financial prize for the winners. This was Andrea Schwartz’s idea and a good one it was. We call it “Basic Principles of the Christian Faith (principios básicos de la fe cristiana). The word “catechism” sounds Roman Catholic and causes and allergic reaction among the evangelical Christians we work with. So what does the catechism have to do with responding to the Jehovah’s Witnesses? Turns out a lot.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday morning the Jehovah’s witnesses made their required visit in the neighborhood to win their salvation points. There is a kingdom hall down the street from our house. They visited the neighbors across the street who attend our house church. Later at breakfast in our house church the neighbor, Cristi, asked what they believe. Lolita, another neighbor, answered that among other things they don’t believe in the Trinity or that Christ is God.

Ximena, Christi’s 9 year old daughter (the twins who live across the street) jumped right in and said she knew what she would say to them the next time they visit, question 6 of the Shorter Catechism. She quoted the question and the answer, and this without having taken any courses on how to witness to JW’s.

How many persons are there in the Godhead? There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

¿Cuántas personas hay in la Divinidad? Hay tres personas en la Divinidad, el Padre, el Hijo y el Espíritu Santo, y estas tres personas son un solo Dios, las mismas en sustancia, e iguales en poder y gloria.

A few weeks later the JW’s visited the home of another of our students, Marleny, who lives across town from us. Marleny is a junior higher. It was a Saturday morning and her parents were asleep. As she tells the story the JW’s asked if they could talk to her parents. She told them her parents were asleep. Not wanting to waste the visit they began talking to her about God. After positing their version of who and what God is they asked Marleny what she thought. She responded with the answer to question 4 of the shorter catechism.

What is God?
God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.

¿Qué es Dios?
Dios es un Espíritu, infinito, eterno e inmutable en su ser, sabiduría, poder, santidad, bondad, justicia y verdad.

Marleny says the JW’s were stunned into silence. They didn’t know what to say. Seems the beat a hasty retreat saying they would come back when they could talk to her parents. Marleny’s mom told me the story the following Monday at the Learning Center. She was beaming! So was I!

Of course we tell these stories during Bible class in the Learning Center. As I was writing this one of the moms who work in the Learning Center came to me with another similar story about an encounter her twin boys. Esteban and Samuel, had with the JW’s. The are 11 years old. The JW’s came to their door last Saturday. Grandma said, “It’s the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Don’t open the door.” But the twins would have none of that. They ran to the door to engage these guys. When the JW’s put their standard question, “Who do you think God is?” the boys responded with the answer to question 4 of the shorter catechism, “What is God?” The JW’s response was, “Glad to see this is a family that knows about God and the Bible. See you later! Bye, bye.” Pretty cool.

The boys’ version was typical boy. The JW’s came to the door. We answered. They asked, “Who is God.” We answered, “God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth,” and they left. Little irrepressible warriors of the Cross. With kids like these, don’t you think Mexico has a future and a hope?

We are all very proud of Ximena, Marleny, Esteban and Samuel. They took the catechism beyond the contest and the repetition in class. And they say, “Repetition and rote memory are old fashioned.” A wise fellow once told me, “Repetition is the mother of skill.” I think so too.

I taught a two week class on the sects several years ago at the seminary here. Two weeks is not enough time to master the particulars of the Christian cults. What to do? I defined a Christian cult as a group that names the name of Christ but denies Christ’s person and work. Specifically, they deny Christ’s deity, his humanity and/or His efficacious work on the cross. They usually offer a works salvation. We visited the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Luz del Mundo, the three major Christian cults in Mexico, and invited their leaders to come to class and tell us what they believed. The Jehovah’s Witnesses turned us down. They did not want to darken the door of an evangelical Christian seminary.

The students were permitted to ask questions but were not allowed to be aggressive or to offer corrections to their heretical doctrines. It was a kind of presuposicional apologetic methodology applied to an interaction with a cult leader. Of course they walked right into the corner and admitted to what they really teach, something they often try to hide from the unsuspecting. When we visited the Mormons one of my students overheard the leader say to the woman who was going to lead the study that day, “Just use the Bible. They don’t believe in the Book of Mormon.”

Thursday of the second week of class we had dinner at my house and celebrated a communion. Few times in my life have a heard more insightful prayers of grateful thanksgiving for our orthodox Christology or more tender hearted pleas for the salvation of these lost and confused souls.

What do you say when the Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on your door? The best answer is to boldly speak what you believe. If you’re not sure about that, start with the Westminster Shorter Catechism. If you are dealing with a Christian cult, know your Christology. Here’s a novel idea, read your Bible, study it. You really don’t need to know all the phenomena of what every religion in the world believes in order to meet them head on and challenge their false faith. You absolutely do need to know and be crystal clear on what you believe.

[1] Larry Moyer, founder and director of Evantel and the very effective Bad News, Good News tract. Check it out at
[2] Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Eugene, OR., Harvest House Publishers, 2009. Kindle edition available at Ron is also a dispensational premillennial prophesy expert and has written several books on the subject. I don’t agree with his eschatology but he is very good with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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