I Met a Jehovah’s Witness on a Bus — Here’s What I Told Her
Charles Taze Russell ‘has spoken on his own authority, and you are not to fear him.’
“How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You sail the seas and cross whole countries to win one convert; and when you succeed, you make him twice as deserving of going to hell as you yourselves are!” (Matthew 23:15)
I was on a New York City bus, tired and eager to get home, when a woman who lacked all ability to “read the room” approached me and, unbidden, sat down beside me.
“Hi! Do you believe in Jesus?” she asked sparkling and bubbling. I assured her that I do indeed believe in the Savior.
“What church do you go to?” she asked excitedly. “I’m Catholic,” I said. “The Church Jesus founded 2,000 years ago.”
“Oh! I used to be Catholic but now I’m Jehovah’s Witness,” she said. “I want to talk to you about Jesus and what he really wants you to believe,” she said.
“Sure, but I have a question before we start,” I said. “What did Jesus say about the End Times?” Without waiting for her response, I quickly searched for the passage on my cellphone and read from Mark 13:32:
No one knows, however, when that day or hour will come — neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son; only the Father knows.
The woman knew exactly where I was going with this one.
“Have you ever heard of Deuteronomy 18:21-22?” I asked. She shook her head in the negative. “I promise you, it’s what Jesus wants you to believe,” I said, repeating her earlier remark. I called up the passage and read:
You may wonder how you can tell when a prophet’s message does not come from the Lord. If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord and what he says does not come true, then it is not the Lord's message. That prophet has spoken on his own authority, and you are not to fear him.
“Do you understand what this means?” I asked. “It means that if someone claims to speak for Jesus and makes even one mistake, we know that the person is either lying, crazy or mistaken. Either way, you’ve got a false prophet on your hands.”
The Jehovah’s Witnesses claimed the world would end 12 times in the past century and a half. The first was in 1877. It was quickly followed by other predictions in 1914, 1916, 1920, 1925, 1938, 1942, 1961, 1966, 1975, 1984 and finally 2000.
“There’s no way to misinterpret that passage. False prophets deliver false prophecies. A prophecy is false if it doesn’t deliver on the goods.”
“Well! The Catholic Church is false …”
I stopped her mid-sentence before she blasphemed again and embarrassed herself even further.
“You made the same criticisms throughout the time that you prophesied the world would end 12 times. There’s no question that your prophets are false but because of the pridefulness of your leaders, you ignored the Scriptures 12 times. You can’t get around that.”
“You don’t understand the Bible!” she said. I ignored her and reread the passage about what Jesus said about the End Times.
Despite Jesus being painfully clear, the JWs insist that they — and not our Savior — truly know the world’s Expiration Date. But they’ve been wrong 12 times. That is the definition of hubris.
“Either you’re right or you’re wrong. Which one is it?” I pressed.
“We’re right!” she said, much too loudly for the tight confines of a half-empty New York bus.
“If you’re right, then why didn’t the world end any of the 12 times you said it was going to?”
The truth stung her. I stood for my stop but before I got off the bus, I turned to her.
“Come back to the Catholic Church. We’re the only one God established. Your founder and false prophet Charles Taze Russell hasn’t done you any good at all.”
We know two things for sure regarding the Jehovah’s Witnesses: First, someone has repeatedly deceived them over the nearly last two centuries, and second, God doesn’t deceive people. There’s very little theological wiggle room here.