on 5 February 2016
Ron Rhodes has excelled in giving Christians clear answers and helpful advice for interacting with those of other worldviews, especially with "Jehovah's Witnesses". This book takes the information he has put into other books and brings it into real life, doorstep scenarios.
The book is in two main sections. Part one gives us the basics of tactical conversing. He is interested in helping us make the most out of the opportunities we get with JWs, and having the right answers is not sufficient, we need the right attitude. He addresses seven areas:
1) Why effective conversation matters
2) The importance of listening
3) The importance of asking questions
4) The importance of effective redirection
5) The importance of avoiding offense
6) The importance of speech peppered by grace
7) The importance of your testimony
These chapters give useful guidance for all witnessing situations, not just with JWs. Rhodes says, "Let's convey the appearance not of a battleship but of a rescue ship en route to the heavenly country. If we handle ourselves rightly, they may accept our invitation to come aboard our rescue ship." (Loc 719).
The second section is Conversations on the Big Issues and covers 13 areas:
Conversations about the Watchtower Society
Conversations about the New World Translation
Conversations about Jehovah
Conversations about Jesus and the Archangel Michael
Conversations about Jesus and Jehovah
Conversations about Jesus's crucifixion
Conversations about Jesus's resurrection
Conversations about Jesus's second coming
Conversations about the Holy Spirit
Conversations about the Trinity
Conversations about the Anointed Class and other sheep
Conversations about salvation
Conversations about soul sleep and hell
Rhodes gives sample conversations on each of these issues and he has a two pronged approach. He always seeks to undermine the JWs confidence in the Watchtower society, and he seeks to correct their understanding of a doctrinal point. In many of the conversations he includes the believer giving his own testimony. JWs who have been converted to Christ often testify just how powerful these three approaches (shaking their faith in the Watchtower, meeting a Christian who knew the Bible, and meeting a Christian who spoke of assurance and a personal relationship with the Lord) were in convicting them about their need of the true gospel.
Rhodes is on top of all his history regarding the Watchtower and is crystal clear on all the scriptures relevant to the areas of controversy. There were many useful points that I have filed away to use when opportunity arises, and it is lovely to read of him exalting the glory of the Lord's person and work.
So why not five stars then? Well, I have engaged in lots and lots of conversations with JWs, and I simply have never met any like the ones in these sample conversations! Perhaps they are different in the USA? But in Rhodes' book the JWs stay on topic, don't engage in lengthy monologues, and they acknowledge when the Christian has made a good point - that just doesn't happen here. In my experience the biggest struggle is keeping a JW on the topic or text under consideration. If there is a passage raised that contradicts their view they will launch into a long lecture with lots of hidden assumptions and leaps of logic and obfuscations, raising about 15 other doctrinal errors in the process, and the Christian needs wisdom and guidance in knowing whether to go down one of the rabbit trails just introduced or drag the JW back to the original subject of conversation. Also, the Christian in Rhodes' sample conversations seems to take the tone of instructor, but I have never found that this opens up a conversation, but instead closes it down. So the conversations just seemed too ideal. I understand he couldn't put in a lot of tangents and diversions, but if he had have put in something to demonstrate the struggle a Christian will have to guide the conversation it would have bumped the rating up a star!
That being said, I enjoyed the book and found the advice and information extremely useful. I meet up with a JW every two weeks to talk about our beliefs and feel better equipped having read this book. I recommend it. Rhodes quotes a Christian leader, "Every heart with Christ is a missionary; every heart without Christ is a mission field." (Loc 958). Don't miss the mission field that God brings to your doorstep.