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Don’t Let ‘Em Get a Word in Edgewise

Late one Saturday afternoon, I was snoozing on the sofa when the doorbell awakened me. Craning my neck, I noticed two well-dressed young women at the screen door.

“What can I do for you?” I called out, thinking they were Avon ladies and not wanting to be disturbed.

“We’re Witnesses of Jehovah, and we’d like to share some Scripture truths with you.”

I was up in a flash. My wife was about to put an early supper on the table. “Go ahead without me,” I told her. “I have work to do.” I stepped onto the porch and closed the door behind me.

Wanting to get the upper hand immediately, I said to the proselytizers, “I’m glad you’re here. I take considerable interest in your faith. I have a copy of the New World Translation of the Bible, the one your Brooklyn headquarters distributes. I subscribe to Awake! and Watchtower magazines. I have several of the books designed to instruct you in door-to-door work, including Reasoning from the Scriptures. I want you to know that I appreciate your zeal and am grateful that you have come to my door.

“Now, before we go any further, tell me a little about yourselves. I presume neither one of you was brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness.” My guess was right. One woman was a former Methodist, the other a former Catholic. Naturally enough, I intended to zero in on the latter.

“You say you want to share Scripture truths. That’s laudable. Why don’t we start with the Gospel of John?” I had them open to the sixth chapter, and we went through it slowly.

In the first part Jesus feeds the five thousand. He provides them, miraculously, with earthly food, a foretaste of what is to come. In the last half of the chapter, he promises to provide them, miraculously, with heavenly food—his own body and blood. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51).

“Consider the reaction of his listeners,” I said to the Witnesses. “The Jews who were listening to our Lord asked themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ They took him literally, didn’t they?” The former Methodist made no sign, but the former Catholic nodded slightly.

“Look at what Jesus did not do. He did not correct them. He did not say, ‘You misunderstand. What I said was just a metaphor.’ There was no need for him to say that because they had understood him properly.” Jesus repeated himself: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you . . . for my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (John 6:53–55).

Then, I noted, came objections not from the Jews who all along had opposed Jesus but from his own disciples, people who had accepted everything up to this point. “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60). Again, no attempt was made to “correct” Jesus’ listeners and to assure them that he spoke merely in symbols. He upbraided them: “There are some of you that do not believe” (John 6:64). “After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him” (John 6:66)—the only place in Scripture in which any of Jesus’ followers left him for a doctrinal reason.

I stepped close to the former Catholic and looked her square in the eyes. “And do you know who was among the unbelievers?” She shook her head slowly, her mouth slightly agape. In my snakiest voice I whispered, “It was Judas-s-s-s!”

Her eyes grew wide. Verse 64 refers to the betrayer and brackets him with those “that did not believe.” The disbelieving disciples at least had the courage of their convictions, I said. They ceased to profess with their presence what they no longer believed in their hearts. Judas, rejecting the teaching on the Real Presence, nevertheless stayed with Jesus. Later on he would steal from the common purse, becoming a thief, and later still he would hand the Master over to the executioners, but his first betrayal was in the form of disbelief.

“You need to get right with God,” I exhorted my visitors. “You need to study Scripture more diligently. You need to pray to Jehovah God and ask him to enlighten you about the real meaning of this chapter. And you in particular,” I said, turning on the former Catholic, “need to come back to the Church that Jesus established—the only Church that gives the authentic interpretation of these verses and of all verses in the Bible. Quite innocently, I’m sure, you have allowed yourself to abandon Jesus’ own Church. Don’t be like the disciples who rejected his hard sayings and turned away from him.”

They told me they would think about it.


Written By Karl Keating



  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    I just love it when different Christian denominations argue with each other over the interpretation of the bible. They seem to forget that the bible is not evidence or proof. The bible is the claim, and it is a claim for which no originals exist, and for which there are varying versions that illustrate editing has taken place, based on the few copies and translations that survived. These are fun and interesting, but academic, discussions, until you prove that the bible is indeed divinely inspired – or literal as the JWs believe.
    Having read the book a few times myself, in general I agree with the JW interpretations of the “claim” on several issues. They don’t see Jesus as God and they rightfully reject Hell. On the other hand, I did some research a while back and in my view it’s fair to suggest that it isn’t really a religion, it’s a huge (tax free) publishing company masquerading as a religion with a highly successful production and marketing strategy. They selected some oddball things to focus on, like blood and idols, and got even more manic about sex than the Catholics – if that’s possible, having recognized what a powerful tool for control sex is. By staying isolated from society, this sect has managed to prosper and grow, while Catholicism stagnates or even fades. (Why would Catholic God allow that to happen?) Like the RCC, the manic attitudes towards sex similarly seem to lead to higher than normal levels of child rape and abuse among clergy/elders.
    One thing that is very different, is that they read the bible. I know very few Christians who have read the entire bible, particularly Catholics. Catholics are consistently told that they are incapable of properly interpreting it – so why bother? That was the attitude I had growing up Catholic, “The priest will tell us what we need to know.” On the other hand, it seems like JWs are required to read the bible, but they do so with careful oversight and instruction in the “correct” interpretation. Their claim about using earlier translations of the bible than does the RCC may or may not be correct, nor is there any reason to believe that an earlier copy is necessarily any more correct than a later copy if one does not know what they were copied from to begin with. In in my experience, Catholics as a whole don’t know the bible anywhere as well as JWs do, so when the author tells you not to let them get a word in edgewise, aside from being highly uncharitable and rude, it’s because he knows you will lose, unless you are one of the rare Catholics who knows enough about the bible to stand your ground.
    So what happens in the real world? What does the former Catholic lady think of this exchange? She left the Church for a reason, and it can’t be because she objects to RCC doctrine on sex because JWs are even more uptight; so why did she leave in the first place? Why was she compelled to try another religion where people were kind and walked her carefully through their book, explaining it as they went, and empowering her with knowledge, whereas the Church she walked away from was rude, overbearing, condemning, and reinforcing her sense of worthlessness and ignorance. Now along comes our buddy Karl the author bragging about how he’s chased another one away from the Church for good… That lady is going to sit down over coffee and go over the passages in question, and be given a very convincing re-indoctrination; again with a view towards empowering her with information, rather than belittling her with arrogance and condescension. The outcome is pretty obvious unless the woman possesses absolutely no sense of self-worth.
    By the way, one can have a lot of fun with the passages referred to in John. There’s the whole issue of free will for example (6:65). And what makes Judas such a bad guy? How could Jesus have accomplished his mission without him? He insisted, like a couple other messiahs of the time who were trying to usher in failed prophecy that dated all the way back to Jeremiah, that a death was needed to bring about the end times. In order for this death to occur, Jesus had to have someone betray him. That might have been the most difficult thing for a follower to do, and Judas may be the real hero of the story (or maybe not, if you are enabling the death of a delusional person). John is the last gospel, reinventing Jesus’ character to a large degree and trying to tie up theological loose ends. Take John with a grain of sand. Most scholars think it was written at least 60 years after Jesus’ death, in a time when the average lifespan was 35 years old. These aren’t arguments a JW would make – they would point to passages supporting the idea that he was a very special man and not a god, but these two ladies apparently weren’t prepared for our overbearing, arrogant author and just wanted to get off his porch and remind themselves of why neither was ever going to go into a Catholic Church again….

  2. elizabeth Reply

    Jehovah witness are told not to read the Bible, they are instructed by the leaders in New York to study the watchtower and pamphlets that at distributed from the main office. They add and subtract to the Word of God, which we are told not to do. Jw are brainwashed by their leaders.

  3. Maria spano Reply

    One answer ,they leave .because they don’t know ,at all our Catholic Faith .one think they bring up ,as soon you give them attention .!!the abuse of the priest ,,but they don’t say anything about their oun sexual abuse in their congregation, in the last 2 years ,their big peoples in NY ,they ran ,because they ave so many ex ,pressed charges against the .elderly ,another thing ,they believe that Jesus is the incarnation of St .Michel the archangel ,not our Savior ,,I can go on ,but follow what Jesus in the massages ,to St .Faustina ,to pray for all of them that separated from HIS BELOVED CHURCH ,GOD BLESS ,

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