Evangelism takes shape in many forms. At times God has random strangers walk up and ask random questions that spark spiritual conversations. Other times major life events causes us to reflect on deeper matters which leads to spiritual conversations. And at times, God even uses the internet. In this case, God chose to use the internet. A devout Jehovah Witness reached out and shared a screen shot image from the JW website about who they think Jesus is. Given the massive importance of the topic, we felt it was necessary to engage in a dialog with this individual but it quickly changed in tempo, tone, and agenda.
We began to address the question, soon more questions rolled in. As we attempted to address the new questions; the previously answered questions were re posted or asked in a different way. It was odd but we continually attempted to address the same questions in the new re-posts.
The answers were not to the satisfaction of the individual, and as the same questions were re-posted, we noticed that our answers were being left out. Even in some cases, only our references to support our answers remained but our actual answers were cropped out of the screen shot.
The individual’s rebuttals to our answers were in forms of YouTube videos produced by JW or screen shots from the JW website alone (later Wikipedia was used). We then began to focus on bringing to light the unreliability of the NWT and issues with believing what you are told solely based off what the watchtower organization teaches.
The issues with the unreliability of the NWT and sole influence of the watchtower organization were never addressed by the individual. Only more questions and rephrased questions without our answers were continually posted.
As we redirected the focus on the individual’s only sources, we began to notice our replies deleted and left out of screen shots as the same questions were re-posted again and again.
We then would ask follow up questions after we addressed the individuals question. But, our questions were never answered. No big deal, because our answers to their questions still shed light on the issue and brought truth to the odd constant questioning.
Given that this whole discussion (turned into an interrogation) was on Twitter, which limits messages to only 140 characters AND the constant bombardment of questions and re-posted questions; keeping up was becoming rather difficult.
The individual then made comments about how we had an audience. It was then we realized that this was no longer a discussion but an attempt to publicly belittle and vilify. So our focus shifted to the dishonesty of the re-posts and questioning and the unreliable nature of the sources.
Gradually, the questioning turned to more personal attacks and “showing [our] true colors” but the re-posts were manipulated where our answers were purposefully not included in the re-posts; with the accusation of avoiding to give an answer or changing the topics. A clear dishonest accusation so that his audience would feel as though we were doing so. When in fact we did address the topic, gave an answer which was deleted or cropped out of the screen shot in the re-post. So the audience would not be able to see our answers, the original post was also deleted.
As we stood fast and focused on the fact the questions were answered in previous posts about Jesus and The Bible, questioning the reliability of the sources, and pointing out and exposing the dishonesty; we were then blocked.
WHY SHARE THIS?
There are important lessons to be learned here. Those who do not live in the light, hate the light (John 3:30). What is the light in regards to this discussion? The truth about God and Jesus. The whole things started with the true identity of Jesus. This individual may not have hated the person sharing the truth about Jesus but they hated the truth about Jesus: that He is God. How is this hatred? Well, if someone is truly forgiving, merciful, patient, loving, and gracious, there would be no need to block someone if they are having a simple civil spiritual conversation. There would be no need to try and be dishonest and manipulative. But it is the hatred of the light that leads people to become dishonest, manipulative, impatient and intolerant of truth.
Another lesson to be learned is that God WILL be glorified even if the hatred of the individual causes them to reject the dialog. The person who remained patient and gracious in the conversation did so in faithfulness to the Lord despite the turned public interrogation and belittlement. Not to mention, being in the public sphere, God may lead others, who witnessed all this, to be exposed to the truth. For HIS will to be done!
In this day in age, social networks and the internet are a huge tool to reach people around the world. Proclaiming the person and work of Jesus Christ world wide IS the mission; and this is a God given tool to do so.
THESE TYPE OF CONVERSATIONS ARE COMMON
The conversations usually start off civil. A back and forth discussion about spiritual matters. That is a good thing! BUT when the lies become exposed, those who genuinely believe in the lies commonly become more and more hostile; that’s natural. BUT the dialog usually shifts from spiritual matters to personal matters; turns from a discussion to an interrogation in an attempt to shame, discredit, vilify, and belittle the truth speaker through any means necessary like dishonest quoting, and manipulation. When these more extreme attempts fail and are also exposed; the dialog falls apart and the person who hates the truth flees or seeks to silence the truth speaker. Because these situations on social networks, online forums, and conversation tools all over the internet are common, we should expect it BUT hope and pray for the truth to impact their heart by the conviction of The Holy Spirit.
COMMONALITIES TO LOOK FOR
- One way conversation; when the individual asks questions and does not answer any questions posted to them. This is a sign that they do not really want to seek truth but to only argue.
- Misquoting; when the individual consistently misquotes or leaves out the key answers to their questions. This is done to avoid the truth within the answer given.
- Situation Manipulation and public deception; when the individual manipulates the discussion to frame it a certain desired way. Like saying that the question is being avoided by asking it in different ways and leaving out what has already been stated when in fact the essence of the question has already been answered.
- Loaded or “Gotcha” questions; these are deceptive questions posed to trip up the truth speaker in an attempt to vilify and shame them if they do trip up. Quoting a verse in the bible where Satan or Pharisees are speaking and then asking something like “do you agree with this statement” without stating who said it is a common ‘gotcha’ question but at the heart is purposefully deceptive.
- Personal attacks; when the individual begins to make the questions personal and negative in tone. In God glorifying spiritual conversations, it is not about the people in the discussion but it is about the glory of God and his Son Jesus Christ. Both individuals are imperfect sinners but the truth of God is perfection.
- Always address the question with truth. Provide references and illustrations to help illuminate the answer.
- If misquoted, re-state the answer and point out the misquote
- If the situation is being manipulated, point out this as well and re-focus the conversation on the truth.
- When personally attacked, do not buy into the bait; re-focus the conversation on the truth and not on any one individual.
- At the end of it all, the gospel (life, death, resurrection; person and work of Jesus Christ) needs to be proclaimed.
- Research context and backgrounds of bible verses to avoid the ‘gotcha’ questions then expose the line of questioning for what it is; being deceptive.
- Continually re-focus the conversation on Jesus; He alone is the way, THE TRUTH, and the life.
HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR COMMON DISCUSSIONS
- GO TO: resource for quick bible verse references
- Manuscripts of The Bible and Textual Criticism
- Evidence for The Resurrection
- Did the Apostles distort what Jesus taught?
- Correctly Interpret and Understand The Bible
- Modern Secular Historians and The Bible
- Early Accounts of Christianity from Non-Christians
- Why The Bible is Divine: Prophecy
- Why The Bible Is Divine: Christology
- Why The Bible is Divine: Miracles
- Information about Other Religions and points of discussion
- Who or What Is The Holy Spirit?
- Who Is Jesus Really?
- The Triune God of Christianity
THE INDIVIDUAL OF THIS DIALOG:
We pray that this person considers the truths presented and the Holy Spirit works in their heart and mind to genuinely seek truth. We thank the Lord for this opportunity to Glorify Him through the means that He has offered. We pray that anyone following the conversation is impacted for God’s glory and seek Jesus Christ as their Lord God and Savior.
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