Longtime Christian minister Wilbur Lingle wrote an excellent book in 1994, and then updated it in 2004, entitled “Approaching Jehovah’s Witnesses in Love”. This book analysis and review contains some thoughts about what and how Mr. Lingle wrote his book, and the ways it has been encouraging and instructive to me personally as someone who has close friends and family members that are asleep within the Organization.
As most of you know my goal (which is shared by many of us here on the JWS site) is to gain Christian Freedom from a man-made structure that creates doctrinal creeds to control our conscience. Another goal of mine is to help others among my JW brotherhood (especially friends and family members within the movement) to see that there is more than one rigid way to serve God besides underneath the banner and tutelage of the Watchtower Society. And it is for this reason I feel that the book helps in both ways.
The subtitle to Lingle’s book, below the main title adds: “How to Witness Effectively Without Arguing”. Isn’t that a refreshing approach and sentiment? So often when we try and share TTATT with a Witness, it devolves quickly into an argument. We are not looking for fights! Notice these verses:
But a slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all, qualified to teach, keeping himself restrained under evil, instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed; as perhaps God may give them repentance leading to an accurate knowledge of truth, and they may come back to their proper senses out from the snare of the Devil, seeing that they have been caught alive by him for the will of that one. (2 Timothy 2:24-26, New World Translation)
Here it is from the Good News Bible:
As the Lord’s servant, you must not quarrel. You must be kind toward all, a good and patient teacher, who is gentle as you correct your opponents, for it may be that God will give them the opportunity to repent and come to know the truth. And then they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the Devil, who had caught them and made them obey his will. (2Ti 2:24-26, GNB)
The book can be ordered on Amazon.com. Many people there have reviewed the book, and I found several of the reviews to be illuminating, so some have been copied and pasted below. Also some comments from other internet sites reviewing the book are included. Note that some comments were edited slightly for brevity, and any bracketed words are mine and were added for clarity.
Rev. Lingle has walked his talk, with years of experience in witnessing to JW’s. What’s more, if you call him, he is eager to help you personally with any questions you have in witnessing to your loved ones involved with the Watchtower Society. His approach to witnessing using a series of questions based on John 5:24 is the most useful, concise one I’ve ever seen. (See page 221)
This book is practical, biblical, and goal-oriented. Lingle is honest about what witnessing methods to JW’s work and which ones don’t work. His basic philosophy is to place doubts in the JW’s mind about the infallibility of the Watchtower Society. He relays documentation from their own literature of the changes the WTS has made over the years in its beliefs and practices.
This book would be an excellent place to start your with your response to the Jehovah’s Witnesses at your door or in your life.
I met Wilbur Lingle this past weekend in Pennsylvania. Mr. Lingle was a very nice man and I can assure you that he is not getting rich off of his ministry. If anything, he is probably making sacrifices in order to get the word out about the [JWs]. His books are nicely written and have been instrumental in helping myself and many others to talk to JWs.
This book asks some very thought provoking questions. The purpose of this is to get Jehovah’s Witnesses to think for themselves. The biggest problem with the members of this organization is that although they ask others to be open minded in their witnessing effort, they are very closed minded themselves and will not even consider looking at something written by outsiders relating to the Bible. In taking this approach, they are not taking their own advice, even though it is scriptural. “Test all things, hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21) This publication does not attempt to demean members of this group, but to help them think on their own. The thought provoking questions given here should help the ones who are honest hearted to see that the points being made are logical and scriptural.
He is a selfless man who I have spoken to several times…Wilbur was a missionary in Japan for many years.
A most excellent, must have tool for those studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses! …This book offers frank, easy to use, easy to understand help in dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses out of love.
He wrote in the “Overview” to this 1994 book, “I have not written from theory, but from eighteen years of study and personal witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses. (The book) shows how you can have meaningful, non-confrontational encounters with a Jehovah’s Witness over many weeks. It also explains how you can get him to open his heart by first building a friendship with him, and then asking him questions to make him THINK regarding the Watchtower organization… This approach does not attack the individual. Rather, using the information in this book will bring one to the point where he will be willing to listen amicably to the message of salvation.” (Page 14)
Here are some additional quotations from the book:
“Question #1: When one looks at the Watchtower publications he soon notices that the writers quote from many different books and encyclopedias in order to try to prove their beliefs and teachings… Since they read and quote from so many sources, it seems to suggest that there are many good books on the market which are not written by Jehovah’s Witnesses and yet contain a lot of the truth that agrees with the Watchtower’s teachings. Are you as a Jehovah’s Witness free to read these various books?” (Pg. 144)
“If the teaching is true that only 144,000 persons will go to heaven, I would like to know how there could possibly be any openings left when Charles Russell came upon the scene in 1880? The Book of Acts mentions at least 60,000 people saved, and this was only the beginning of the growth of Christianity… Also there were over 250,000 martyrs who would surely be included in the 144,000…” (Pg. 147)
There are a few negative reviews, but it seems they are primarily from ones that are Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves. Here are a couple:
If you want to “witness” to one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, do what Jesus commanded his followers to do, go out and preach and make disciples (Matt 28:19), and seek them out. Jehovah’s Witnesses respect their neighbors and their beliefs. This book is a classic example of a bitter former JW, It’s quite simple, in sports if you don’t follow the rules, what happens? That’s right you get disqualified or booted from the team. Likewise when God’s high standards, outlined in his word are not adhered too, then that person is removed. Simple. The author, if he chose to not be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses any longer, should first of all, stop being bitter and find something more productive to do with his time, as most former members should do also.
WHERE did he get the idea that MOST witnesses do NOT want to go door to door? I am grandpa to a kid who LOVES the work! My daughter of 20 – single, sweet, still a virgin – is a pioneer and goes out for LOVE of JEHOVAH, not for some guilt or whatever. [Lingle] is all wet. Hence my question, which likely will remain rhetorical: has he ever MET any of Jehovah’s people?
Regarding these two negative comments, it should be noted that Mr. Lingle has never been one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and so would not be eligible for shunning as current Witnesses are required to do of former members. Also, the author has met and spoken with scores of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and attended meetings at the Kingdom Hall many times, in a number of places.
So with no further ado, here is a small sample of “Approaching Jehovah’s Witnesses in Love”. I hope to feature a few more small excerpts from the book in future posts, and encourage you to buy the book if you feel it would benefit you or a loved one.
“Approaching Jehovah’s Witnesses in Love”, excerpts from pages 106-107:
Christ said that we are not to kill and that a Christian should love his enemies as himself. How can you love your enemy if you kill him? Most of the “Christian” faiths have gone to war — “Christian” brother against “Christian” brother. I am talking about Catholics, all of the main Protestant groups, Mormons, and others. Jehovah’s Witnesses have not and will not go to war.
Not all of the mainline Protestant groups have gone to war. Several centuries before the Jehovah’s Witnesses came into existence, the Moravians and the Mennonites, not to mention the Quakers and some others, were against war. The statement “Jehovah’s Witnesses have not and will not go to war” is incorrect. The writer either did not know the history of the Society or he ignored it. For the first sixty years of the movement they [discouraged but] allowed their members to join the army and go to war. They didn’t change this policy until 1939. If the Bible is against war, why did it take them so many years to find this out? It is interesting to read in context the Bible reference about love. They render Luke 6:27-31 in the New World Translation as follows:
But I say to you who are listening, Continue to love your enemies, to do good to those hating you, to bless those cursing you, to pray for those who are insulting you. To him that strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also; and for him that takes away your outer garment, do not withhold even the undergarment. Give to everyone asking you, and from the one taking your things away do not ask (them) back. Also, just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them.
Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t practice this kind of love. They treat those disfellowshipped from the Society as enemies. [It may be added that this is especially the case with those that disagree with official WT doctrine and are labeled "apostates"] The Witnesses will not speak to them or have any-thing to do with them, nor will they show a drop of love to them.
The Witnesses go door to door, but if you try to visit them, [or ask them to accept any literature] they will tell you to leave. Once I made an appointment with a Witness to come to my house and had him agree to visit me at least ten times. He agreed to do so. However, he came only once, so I went to his house. After a short time, even though he was the one asking the questions, I was told to “leave in five minutes” or he would call the police. I left immediately but he still called the police.
Another time, Jehovah’s Witnesses were in my area and left an invitation to come to their Kingdom Hall. I did go. After attending three meetings, people started talking to me and asking me questions which I answered. In the middle of the conversation, as I was answering questions asked by a Witness, the elders told me to leave. I replied that I would leave when I finished the conversation. The elders called the police and had me put out of the hall. When I asked what I had done wrong, they only said that I had been told to leave.
I have never experienced any of the love that the Jehovah’s Witnesses say that they show to their enemies. I should receive a lot of love from them! I do not hate Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I do hate their false teachings. I love [these] people and want to win them to Christ.
As taken from Approaching Jehovah’s Witnesses in Love by Wilbur Lingle, pages 106-107. (Bracketed text and emphasis inserted for clarity)
Mr. Lingle’s website is: www.lovetoshareministries.com.