The Jehovah Witness movement began in 1816 under the guidance of William Miller,
a lay Baptist minister. He promoted the belief that Christ would return in 1843.
The year 1843 came and went but Christ did not return. Miller had about 50,000 followers
who put their faith in his prediction that Christ would return in 1843. When this
did not happen, Miller extended it to March l844. Still Christ did not return as
predicted by Miller. As a matter of fact, we just recently had a cult leader in
our day and time, 2011, who convinced hundreds of people that Christ's return was
imminent. This kind of thing has come up many times over the years and still Christ
has not returned. Jesus clearly told the disciples in Matthew 24:36, "But of that
day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the father
alone." Miller soon found out, as have so many false prophets, the Scriptures tell
the truth whether they want to believe it or not. The vast majority of Miller's
followers abandoned the movement. However, the movement was kept alive by a few
of Miller's followers.
Watch Tower Magazine
The Watchtower claims that God appointed Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) to provide
spiritual truth for Jehovah's true worshipers through literature such as "The
Watchtower" and "Awake". The Witnesses claim that Christianity fell
into general apostasy in the 4th century A.D. and God appointed Taze Russell to
right the ship. The Bible teaches in I Timothy 4:1 that in the last days some will
depart from the faith but it does in no way indicate that true Christianity would
almost entirely fall away. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, "And I also say to
you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates
of Hades shall not overpower it." The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 3:21,
"to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever
and ever. Amen." The Lord already knew that some would fall away from the church
in the last days but the church in its entirety would never depart from the faith.
We are warned by the Scriptures that a time will come when "people will not
endure sound doctrine." Look what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:3,
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting
to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance
to their own desires." To even go further along these same lines Paul writes
in 2 Timothy 4:4, "and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn
aside to myths." This applied to the people in Paul's time and it still
fits today. There are people today who do not want to hear sound teaching as presented
by the Scriptures but rather teachers of novelty and untruth seemingly intrigue
those looking for something in accordance to their own desires.
Russell and the Witness steadfastly believed that the Second Coming of Christ would
occur in 1914. The outbreak of World War I seemed to be just what the Witnesses
had predicted in terms of a great Advent. The Witnesses were convinced that the
"times of the Gentiles" was over and the world would end in the prophetic
"battle of Armageddon." Russell believed that World War I was the beginning
of Armageddon. Russell died in 1916 and Armageddon has not happened yet. It's
easy to explain why, as far as Christians are concerned, that 1914 was not the battle
of Armageddon. The Scriptures clearly tell us that "no one knows the day or
the hour when Christ will return." And to this day the Jehovah's Witnesses
still believe that Russell's prediction of 1914 marked the "end of the
times of the gentiles."
Charles Taze Russell
"Judge" Joseph Rutherford, Russell's successor, moved the date for
the end of the world to 1925. He proclaimed that "Millions Now Living Will
Never Die!" He even built a home in San Diego anticipating the return of Abraham,
Isaac, Jacob, and other "ancient worthies." Rutherford taught that Jehovah
"governs his universe" from a star somewhere in star cluster named Pleiades.
The end of the world did not happen in 1925 either.
The name Jehovah's Witnesses is the way they refer to themselves. It is a descriptive
name, indicating that they bear witness concerning Jehovah, His Godship, and His
purposes. "God," "Lord," and "Creator." -- like "President,"
"King," and "General"- are titles and may be applied to several
different personages. The Jehovah's Witnesses deny the deity of Christ, His
physical resurrection and salvation by grace. This alone makes it non-Christian.
The Witnesses Governing Body distorts the Bible and makes it fit their false teachings.
They do not believe in the Trinity and they teach that Christ is a lesser created
God. Like most cults, the Witnesses take biblical verses out of their immediate
context. They alter biblical verses to fit their needs or certain situations and
they will latch onto one verse to interpret a host of other verses. They will ultimately
add to the Word of God. The Bible clearly tells us not to add or take away from
the Word of God. Since 1976 the beliefs of the Witnesses have been based on the
decisions of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. The beliefs of the Witnesses
have been propagated by the Watchtower Magazine and other media materials and various
conventions organized by the Witnesses. The Witnesses endeavor to convert as many
as possible to their beliefs. They tend to avoid secular society. The Witnesses
today have over l8 million followers worldwide.
The Jehovah's Witnesses magazine, The Watchtower, claims that there are two
classes of Christians. The 144,000 who were living between Pentecost (c. AD 30)
and 1935, called the "anointed class" or "little flock" will
live in Heaven as spirits forever. Those who became a Witness after 1935 and those
who never heard of Christ will have a chance to live forever as human beings in
a paradise on Earth. The Word of God explicitly teaches that when believers in Christ
die they go immediately into Christ's presence (Luke 23:43 and Phil. 1:21-24).
All believers will be resurrected with immortal human bodies like Christ's (Romans
8:11, 1 Corinthians 15:42-54 and Phil. 3:21) and live together in the New Heaven
and New Earth (Matthew 5:5, 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1). All of the redeemed
will see God and Christ (Matthew 5:8; 1 John 3:2; and Revelation 21:3-4). There
is no scriptural basis in Revelation 7 or any other passage for dividing Christians
into two classes.
The Witnesses teach that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal "active force"
and that it never appears as a person in Scripture. A study of the Scriptures reveals
that personhood qualities are attributed to the Holy Spirit. He is seen as a teacher
(John 14:26), intercessor (Romans 8:26), one who testifies (John 15:26), and who
guides believers (Romans 8-14). The Witnesses take the position that since the Holy
Spirit is said to "dwell" within believers, it never appears as a person
in Scripture. The Witnesses claim that the personality as attributed to the Holy
Spirit by the Scriptures are merely "personifications" of abstract qualities
like wisdom, which is personified in the book of Proverbs. In the book of Proverbs
wisdom is personified in highly poetic passages. The Holy Spirit is attributed as
a personality in various non-poetic contexts (historical narratives, sermons, and
epistles). There is simply no comparison between the personification of inanimate
objects or abstract qualities in Scripture and the attributions of personal characteristics
to the Holy Spirit.
The Jehovah's Witnesses believe that salvation is by the undeserved kindness
(grace) of Jehovah God. However, to be saved the Witnesses claim that one needs
faith demonstrated by Christian works, kindness to others, the proper discharge
of family duties, and by showing proper attitudes to others. The four requirements
for Witnesses to gain salvation are:
- Taking in knowledge of Jehovah God and of Jesus Christ;
- Obeying God's laws and conforming one's life to the moral requirements set
out in the Bible;
- Belonging to and serving with God's one true channel and organization (that
is, the Watchtower Society)
- Being loyal to God's Organization.
The Word of God teaches that good works can't save. This is purely and simply
stated in the Bible. In the book of Romans 3:10, 23, the Apostle Paul writes "that
all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Good works are the fruit
(evidence), not the root (cause) of a saved relationship with God (Mark 4:20 and
Ephesians 2:10). No one can earn or deserve salvation; it is a "free gift"
from God based on Christ's merit, not human worthiness. Those who "have
the Son" have the full assurance of eternal life (1 John 5:10-13). Thus, only
because of Jesus, true Christians will rise from death, made perfect in Christ (Heb.
10:10, 14 and John 5:24). The Witnesses teach that salvation is earned through a
combination of faith and good works. True Christians can have no assurance of eternal
life. They must work toward perfection throughout this life, and then throughout
Christ's 1,000-year reign on earth. All of the Witnesses will be tested a final
time by Satan when he is released from the pit. If they fail at any point they are
at risk of annihilation or eternal destruction.
The Watchtower teaches that transfusing blood into one's veins violates God's
law against eating blood as written in Leviticus 17:14 and Acts 15:29. Even when
one of the Witnesses rejects a blood transfusion in a life saving situation, this
is regarded as helping to secure a future place in Paradise. The Old Testament injunction
was against the eating of blood; transfused blood is neither digested nor metabolized
by the body when it enters through the veins. The Witnesses are forbidden to celebrate
birthdays and holidays since they regard such festivities as having pagan origins.
The Watchtower claims that Jesus commanded that only his death was to be celebrated.
Therefore, Witnesses believe that true Christians do not commemorate anything but
Jesus' death and their own wedding anniversaries. Watchtower objections to celebrations
based on pagan origins can be answered by the fact that many customs today have
lost their pagan significance. What Paul writes in Romans 14 in addressing holiday
celebrations and eating pagan sacrificial meat should hold true for all Christians.
In verses 5 and 6 Paul writes, "Let each man be fully convinced in his own
mind. He, who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does
so for the Lord." The Witnesses, for decades condemned both pasteurization
and the germ theory of disease. Also, in years past, the Society has forbidden its
followers to accept vaccinations ("a crime against nature") and organ
transplants ("cannibalism"). The Watchtower prohibits military service,
voting, as well as saluting and pledging allegiance to the flag. We find in Matthew
5:13-16 encouragement for Christians to function as "salt" and "light"
in their communities. Many prominent Bible characters were both militarily and politically
active, e.g. Daniel and his colleagues in the pagan government of Babylon; the Ethiopian
eunuch in Acts 8 was in charge of the treasury; and many others.
Now that we have learned a little about the Witnesses, we should be able to talk
a little more intelligently about their beliefs and true Christian beliefs. We should
not slam the door in their faces and turn them away. Rather than being argumentative
in our approach to the Witnesses we should be calm and prayerful in our manner,
using the following as a general guide in an encounter with the Witnesses.
- Do pray before each encounter with the Witnesses
and invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide the conversation.
- Don't depend on evidence and argumentation alone. Rely on the Holy Spirit
to guide you.
- Do approach the Witnesses in a humble and loving
manner. Show genuine concern and address them in a respectful manner, realizing
that they probably would not have become a part of the Witnesses had they known
all the facts.
- Don't act like you have something they don't and don't exhibit
a superior attitude or belittle them.
- Do ask the Witnesses how to reconcile and understand
their beliefs in concert with the Bible. Remember the Witnesses are trained to teach,
not to listen to you. Well thought out questions can help break down the barriers
and get them out of their programmed response status and get them to "think"
- Do challenge the Witnesses trust in the Watchtower
by pointing out the various discrepancies in their own literature. Remember the
Witnesses are not allowed to read anti-Watchtower literature. Consequently, it is
better to use their literature and scripture alone. Based on the knowledge of their
Scriptures you can better show how it conflicts with our Bible.
- Don't approach the Witnesses in an argumentative manner, trying to "teach"
them. As far as they are concerned they have and know the "truth", and
you don't have anything to offer them.
- Don't jump into a deep scriptural discussion too soon. The Witnesses
hold that they can't understand the Bible apart from Watchtower literature.
Their total trust in the Watchtower needs to be broken before they can interpret
the Bible for themselves.
- Do pray for the Witnesses and pray about personal
things that are happening in their lives. Emphasize the "Father" aspect
of "Jehovah" in your prayer and how He cares for you personally. In your
prayers, refer to Jehovah at some point because the Witnesses fear that if prayer
doesn't have Jehovah's name mentioned, it may end up in Satan's hands.
- Do share with the Witnesses about your personal relationship
with Jesus and how prayer works in your life. The Witnesses do not believe God cares
as much for them as He does for the organization. Your testimony about what God
has done in your personal life can make them hungry for a real relationship with
the true God.
- Don't try to force the Witnesses to agree with you. They're not allowed
to disagree with the Watchtower. Planting seeds of doubt will be far more effective
than disagreeing. Let the Holy Spirit do His work.
- Do be available, persistent and patient. If they
are asking questions, they're starting to think for themselves. This is the
first step to leaving the Watchtower.
There are some features common to most cults:
- They do not adhere solely to the sixty-six books of the Bible as the inspired
Word of God.
- They do add their "special revelations"
as equally as authoritative.
- They do not accept that our relationship to Jesus Christ is a reality "by
grace through faith" alone, but practice instead a salvation by works.
- They do not recognize Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God as the Second Person
of the Trinity, which is composed of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy
What makes the Jehovah's Witnesses or any other religion a cult? Jehovah's
Witnesses clearly fall in the above categories and fit the definition as a cult
group. A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from
the biblical message of the Christian faith. We must be careful to avoid any involvement
with cults. Cults often teach some Christian truth, mixed with error, which can
be very difficult to detect. To avoid this pitfall the Christian needs a sound background
in Christian doctrine and faith.
On The Road
References: Rose Publishing & Internet