My neighborhood is one big loop with homes on each side. It’s an older neighborhood, filled with mature trees that, when covered in leaves, provide almost zero visibility for neighborhood happenings. But I can see all the way around our loop in the winter when deciduous trees stand bare. It was a few weeks ago that I saw them coming. They come in pairs, working house by house...apparently they are Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I’ve learned to tell the difference between the various people that work our neighborhood. You can always tell the sales people because they never travel in pairs and typically carry a tattered, cheaply laminated list of services they provide1. I appreciate these folks even though I’ll never buy any of their wares. They show hustle and the courage to cold call. I try to be as pleasant as possible to them while politely resisting the sales tactics2. The second group that works our neighborhood are Mormons. They are easy to spot as well, predominately young, caucasian males, traveling in pairs, dress slacks, button downs, and the black placard on the breast pocket that says, “elder.” The third group is the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They too travel in pairs but are more ethnically and sartorially diverse.
On this particular winter weekday, I knew the conversation I’d have before the pair reached my front door. The two older gentlemen knocked on my door and then stood the requisite paces back to avoid appearing intimidating. I already had a Bible in my hand, which I didn’t notice until I reached the front door.3 I opened the door with the most courteous what-are-you-doing-on-my-front-porch face I could muster. They gave me a Watch Tower tract4 and invited me to an Easter service at the local Kingdom Hall. I responded with a short paragraph I’ve used dozens of times when pairs of evangelists5 visit my home.
“I need to tell you something very important. I’m an evangelical Christian and pastor. I’ve given my life to undermine the false gospel that you preach. I believe in the Triune God as the only God6 and in Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, as fully God and fully man, who alone can save. You not only believe a false gospel but are trying to promote it amongst my neighbors. This neighborhood is my mission field, and you are not welcome. We believe in radically different gospels, and it will cost one of our souls. I will pray for you as you leave7 that you will repent of your heresy and trust in Christ alone for salvation.”
The look on their face told me that they weren’t expecting my response. My guess is that they’re more used to the polite nod or possibly name calling. My goal was a forceful defense of the one true God and a jarring confrontation that may stick in those men’s memories long enough to be used by the Holy Spirit to bring them to true salvation. They usually, as they did this time, say that they will return to talk more but never do.8 I closed my door and prayed for them, “Father, please remove those men’s blindness, lead them to the true faith in the true Christ, your son. Amen.”
Understand me. I’m not trying to be mean or harsh. But I have two loves that I work hard to keep in resonant synchronicity. I love the Lord. And I don’t mean “my (g)od, among many.” The God in whom I believe is the one, true God. He has revealed in his Word that all other claims to deity are the empty imaginations of men9, or the work of malevolent spirits10, or both11. And that leads to my second love. I love those who are without Christ and long for them to know him. Claiming that the Christian God is the only true God is the most loving thing a Christian can do. And so I have these conversations on my front porch because I believe, “There is but One only, the living and true God.”12
1. Or magazines, or knives, or household cleaners.
2. Can I clean your windows? You like sports, don’t you? How many times a year do you sharpen your knives?
3. I have an office in my basement which means my books are likely to be scattered about the house. At this particular moment, I had left my Bible in one room and was returning it to its home. I thought afterward that these men might’ve known what to expect from our conversation given their experience with people answering the door with a Bible in their hand.
4. I aways accept them then promptly tear them up and put them in my trash can.
5. Read: false evangelists.
6. Deut 6:4; 1 Cor 8:4; Jer 10:10
7. 2 John 10-11
8. I often wonder if I get black-listed, which I would consider an honor. If they do return, the Jehovah’s Witnesses want to talk about John 1 and Granville Sharp while Mormons want to talk about the illegitimacy of the Niceano-Constantinopolitan Council.
9. Rom 1:22-23
10. 1 Cor 10:20-21
11. Eph 2:1-2
12. WLC 8