Not too long ago, a young woman named Jenny came into my store and announced that she had begun a Bible study with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although Jenny had been baptized into the Catholic faith as an infant, she had not been raised Catholic. She had no idea who the Jehovah’s Witnesses were or what they taught.
Naturally, I did not want to dampen any enthusiasm that she had developed for Bible study, but I did try to warn her about the heterodoxy of the JWs’ teachings. I explained that JWs were not Christian, as they did not believe in the Trinity or the divinity of Christ. When Jenny told me that the Bible study met on Monday mornings, a day my store is closed, I asked her if I could attend. She agreed and seemed enthusiastic that I was willing to study with her.
The following Monday at ten I was sitting on Jenny’s couch when Ramona, the JW, arrived with her trainee. After introductions were made I told Ramona that I was the owner of the local Catholic bookstore and that I had been studying the materials produced by the Watchtower for many years. Ramona informed me that she had been baptized as a Catholic and raised in the faith but had been a JW for the past nine years.
I told Ramona that I believed the Watchtower Society was one of the most devious organizations I had ever encountered. After her initial shock at my statement, Ramona asked, “What do you mean?” There was my opening. Since JWs will not accept any literature that is not produced by the Watchtower Society, I knew that if I wanted to get anywhere with Ramona I would have to rely exclusively on Watchtower materials. I brought out my New World Translation of the Bible and a Watchtower magazine dated January 15, 1992. Ramona recognized these materials as being produced by the Watchtower and approved of them.
I then turned to page 20 of the Watchtower booklet and showed her an article entitled, “What Do the Scriptures Say about the Divinity of Christ?” The last line on page 21 began with, “But do not Jesus’ miracles prove that he was a God-man? No, for Moses, Elijah, Elisha, the apostles Peter and Paul, and others performed miracles without being God-men (Exodus 14:15–31; 1 Kings 18:18–40; 2 Kings 4:17–37; Acts 9:36–42, 19:11–12). Like them, Jesus was a human who performed miracles with God-given power (Luke 11:14–19).”
Ramona read the article and said she agreed with it. I then opened my New World Translation and went to the first Scripture cited by the article. Exodus 14:15–16 states: “Jehovah now said to Moses: ‘Why do you keep crying out to me? Speak to the sons of Israel that they should break camp. As for you, lift up your rod and stretch your hand out over the sea and split it apart, that the sons of Israel may go through the midst of the sea on dry land.’” When I asked Ramona who performed this miracle, she replied, “Moses.”
I went on to verse 21, which states, “Moses now stretched his hand out over the sea; and Jehovah began making the sea go back by a strong east wind all night long and converting the sea basin into dry ground, and the waters were being split apart.” Once again, I asked, “Who performed this miracle, Moses or Jehovah God?” Ramona answered, “Well, I guess Jehovah God actually performed this miracle.”
We then looked at all the other Scriptures passages cited by the Watchtower article. Each time Ramona agreed that only Jehovah God had the power to perform a miracle. In each of these instances, it was readily apparent that the individuals involved did not themselves have the power. Each of them called on the power of Jehovah God, or Jehovah God directly intervened. Ramona then admitted that only Jehovah God could really perform a miracle. Naturally, I agreed.
We then turned to the New Testament, where there are thirty-six miracles attributed to Jesus. Step by step we reviewed some of these miracles. I asked Ramona to show me where Jesus received help from Jehovah God and she could not. We reviewed miracle after miracle and came to the same conclusion; yet Ramona would not admit that Jesus was divine. Somehow, Jehovah God must have performed these miracles through Jesus.
Finally, I took her to the story of the hemorrhaging woman. Each of the three synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—contains this story. I turned to Luke 8:43–46: “And a woman subject to a flow of blood for twelve years, who had not been able to get a cure from anyone, approached from behind and touched his [Jesus’] outer garment, and instantly her flow of blood stopped. So Jesus said: ‘Who was it that touched me?’ When they were all denying it, Peter said: ‘Instructor, the crowds are hemming you in and closely pressing you.’ Yet Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me, for I perceived that power went out from me.’”
Previously, Ramona had admitted that only Jehovah God had the power to perform a miracle. Now we had a Scripture passage that showed that the power to heal was within Jesus. If only Jehovah God had the power to perform miracles and Jesus had the power to perform miracles, then it stands to reason the Jesus must be Jehovah God.
Ramona sat there stunned. Her hands were visibly trembling and she kept repeating, “You can’t be right, you can’t be right.” She said, “I don’t know how to answer you but there must be a way.” Ramona left in confusion. She could not bring herself to believe that the Watchtower Society had deceived her.
The following day, Ramona came into my store accompanied by one of the elders of her congregation. The elder was visibly angry. They had come to prove to me that Jesus was not divine. The elder had brought along a booklet titled Should You Believe in the Trinity? I went to my stash of JW books in the back room and brought out my annotated copy. After about 45 minutes, the elder literally dragged Ramona out of the store, finger-wagging at her all the way to their car.
Ramona pulled away before entering the car and returned to the store to ask me one final question: Could I prove that hell existed? I told her I could prove it using only her New World Translation. We made an appointment for the following Monday at 2 p.m. to discuss this subject. I spent hours studying up on hell over the next few days, using only the NWT. When Monday arrived I was prepared to address Ramona’s question. Unfortunately, she telephoned me at 1 p.m. to cancel our meeting. She had gone to the kingdom hall for help. The elders asked her if she believed I was trying to convert her. Ramona said “yes.” Then they asked if she thought that there was any way of converting me to their teachings. Ramona said “no.” She was forbidden to speak to me, since speaking to me already had placed her salvation in jeopardy.
The following Monday at 10 a.m. I was once again sitting on Jenny’s couch. When Ramona came in we spoke briefly. I told her that if she wanted to continue to study with Jenny, then I would always be there to offer my view. I offered her literature contradicting Watchtower theology, which she refused to accept. She left in a huff and never returned.
I wish I could say that this story had an immediate happy ending. To my knowledge Jenny never did find a Catholic Bible study, and I believe that Ramona may still be in the Watchtower’s clutches. I can only pray that seeds have been planted that will someday come to fruition.