A number of years ago I received a phone call from an elder in a Jehovah Witness church to come and preach. The elder on the phone began his conversation with, “Hello Brother McClain, how are you doing? I am calling to confirm your preaching appointment next Sunday at our Kingdom Hall here in the San Fernando Valley. Do you need directions to our Hall Brother McClain?” I was a little surprised at first, because there was no way in the world a Jehovah Witness congregation would ever invite me to preach. I had been a pastor for a number of years, and, from time to time, I received calls to preach, but at a Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall? Hardly! Had I been a little more spiritually shrewd, I would have accepted the call and preached the real truth about Jesus and His plan of salvation to those Jehovah Witnesses. Instead I explained to them the kind of pastor I was, and they responded quickly by getting off the phone. I think they were a little embarrassed.
If you do not know much about the Jehovah Witnesses, I have put together a short review of their beliefs. If a Jehovah Witness has never visited you, they will eventually. They, like the Mormons, have set goals to visit every residence in the United States at least once. If either group (Jehovah or Mormon) arrives, I would encourage you to be courteous to them, but lovingly decline their invitation to talk. They are very well trained and ready to break down what you believe. If you want to do something for them, then pray for them, because they are very lost concerning Christ and His plan of salvation. If you want to do a little more, then hand them a copy of this review or the one I have written on Mormonism from my folder on cults at my website www.tmoments.com. Before you do, delete the introduction and conclusion. Who knows, perhaps one of them is struggling with their beliefs
Here is what the Jehovah Witnesses are all about; most of this material was taken from S.F. Fleming’s book the Gate Breakers (page 100-126). This book can be found at the www.christianbook.com web site.
The bottom line is that Jehovah Witnesses deny the Trinity, reject his bodily resurrection, teach a works salvation, and hold that Christ was Michael the Archangel, the first created being, but not God.
A Short History of the Jehovah Witness Cult
Charles Taze Russell founded the Watchtower in 1884. It was formerly known as Zion’s Watchtower Tract Society based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Watchtower is also the name of the chief Jehovah Witness publication. In 1874, Russell began publishing The Herald of the Morning, which eventually became the Watchtower magazine.
Joseph Franklin Rutherford took over the Watchtower Organization in 1917 after Russell’s death and remained the leader until his own death in 1942. There emerged a split as Rutherford held to only some of Russell’s views. Rutherford was the lawyer who defended Russell in the suit against Ross. Rutherford was popularly called Judge because he had briefly served as a special judge in Missouri. His charisma and organizational talent matured the cult from infancy into a major organization. Under his influence, the Society began to be seen as Jehovah’s theocratic kingdom on earth. It became God’s “supposed” voice to the world. It was under Rutherford’s leadership that the name Jehovah’s Witness was coined.
His personal life proved embarrassing for the Society. His drinking problem, vulgar language, and possible promiscuity lead to Watchtower humiliation as well as a divorce from his wife. Another major embarrassment for the Watchtower occurred under Rutherford, because of false prophesies. Rutherford taught that in 1925, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the Old Testament prophets would return as “princes” and live in the estate in San Diego, California, known as Beth-Sarium (House of the Princes). Of course, large sums of money were solicited to build the spectacular home for the prophet’s return and Watchtower leadership took full advantage of the situation while waiting for their return. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses were once again disappointed when the prophecy failed.
The name Jehovah Witness was coined in 1931, at a convention in Columbus, Ohio. The name was derived from Isaiah 43:10, “Ye are my witnesses saith the Lord [Jehovah], and my servant whom I have chosen.”
As of 1998, there were almost 1 million members in the U.S. and 4.5 million worldwide in at least 212 countries. Four to six new Kingdom halls (their church buildings) are constructed every month somewhere in the U.S.
Every Jehovah Witness church member is considered a missionary. They are trained to go door-to-door and equipped to debate doctrine with Christians. They often do not identify themselves as Jehovah Witnesses and are very tactful in their approach. As with Mormons, they normally witness in pairs, one experienced and one an apprentice. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have mapped out the entire United States so that every residence will be contacted at least once or twice a year by a team of door-to-door workers. They claimed recently that in one year over 3.6 million members spent over 835 million hours of door-to-door witnessing for the Watchtower!! (Parent Organization). Out of sheer grueling persistence they have been able to harvest many people who have not been grounded in God’s Word and were easily led astray by this counterfeit religion.
The Watchtower organization
- They regard their organization as the prophet of God.
- They see their organization as God’s sole channel for His truth.
- They believe to reject the organization is to reject God.
- They deem that only their organization can interpret the Bible, not individuals.
- False doctrines of the Watchtower
- Denial of Trinity
The most cultic teaching of the Jehovah Witness cult is their denial of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ. Traditional Christianity has had to put up with such cultic twists almost since the time of Christ. Aruis (AD 250-336) denied the deity of Christ by teaching that Jesus was not coeternal with the Father. Arianism influenced many people including Eusebius, the first century historian. Arianism was condemned at the council of Nicaea (AD 325) because it failed to recognize the authority of numerous Spiritual references affirming the deity of Christ (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6; Mic. 5:2; John 1:1, 5:18, 5:21-24; 8:58; 10:30; 17:5, Phil. 2:11; Col. 2:9, 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:3; 1 John 5:20, etc.) However, even though Christianity has warded off attacks of heretics in the past, the Watchtower has become a powerful voice because of its publications. Their “supposed” translation of the Bible, New World Translation, has erroneously changed many verses that oppose their doctrine, but they weren’t able to change them all.
- The Bible teaches that the Father is God (2 Peter 1:17), the Son is God (John 20:28; Col. 2:9), and that the Holy Spirit is God.
- “He received honor and glory from God the Father.” (2 Peter 1:17) NASB
- “Thomas said, ‘My Lord and My God.” (John 20:28) NIV
- “You have lied to the Holy Spirit… to God.” (Acts 5:3-4) NIV
- The Bible also teaches there is only one God (1 Tim. 2:5; Gal. 3:20, Deut. 6:4, Is. 44:6) Therefore; the doctrine of the trinity is sustained by the Bible.
- “For there is One God.” (1 Tim. 2:5)
- “I am the first and the last; there is no other God.” (Isaiah 44:6) LIV
Denial of Christ’s Deity
The Watchtower Doctrine teaches that Jesus was Michael the Archangel, the first created being, only a man when on earth, not God.
- Christians who believe in the Bible hold that Jesus Christ is God, an equal part of the Trinity.
- The Bible teaches that Michael is the archangel of God and never implies that he is Jesus Christ. He is a created being just as is Gabriel, the angel. Lucifer was an archangel, but fell. Jesus Christ is not the same as the angels and is to be worshipped by all the angels of God (Heb. 1:6). Michael was/will be present when the voice from Heaven proclaims Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:7, 9)
Denial of the Holy Spirit’s Deity
The Watchtower denies the Deity of the Holy Spirit.
- The Bible clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) is the Third Person of the Trinity and always has been.
- ”… of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Mt. 28:20 KJV
- ”… and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” Gen.1: 2 NIV
- ” Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image.” Gen. 1:26 NIV
- The Bible also teaches that the Holy Spirit has a personality that can comfort us, give us righteousness, peace, and joy, sanctify us, give us spiritual gifts, and give us direction. In Acts 5, we are told that Ananias and Sapphira died because they lied to the Holy Ghost. We can commune with the Holy Ghost. (2 Cor. 13:14)
Denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ?
The Watchtower denies the bodily resurrection and the physical return of Christ.
- The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead in the same body. It never insinuates that Christ’s spirit inhabited various bodies.
- “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Luke 24:39 Other scriptures: John 2:19-21, 1 Cor. 15:17
- The Bible teaches that all the nations will see him return. It will not be done in secret as the Witnesses imply. This was merely a whitewash to cover up Charles Russell’s failed prophecy predicting the return of Christ in 1914.
- The Bible teaches that Jesus will physically return just as He physically departed.
Denial of heavenly reward for all believers
The Watchtower theology teaches that only 144,000 Jehovah Witness followers will go to heaven. The other sheep (believers) will go to paradise, which is on earth.
- All of these slots for heaven were filled by 1935. After this, the most a Jehovah Witness could hope for was to work his or her way into paradise on earth.
- Of the original 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, just a few thousand are still alive as the world enters the new millennium.
- This anointed class, truly the elite according to Watchtower theology, have many privileges, such as: being born again, conformed in Christ’s image, members of the New Covenant, partakers of the Lord’s supper, and holders of glorified bodies. They also have a permanent place in heaven, and rule with Christ (Michael the Archangel) Himself.
The Bible, in contrast, classifies the 144,000 as literal Jews, makes mention of an innumerable amount of believers in heaven, and makes available all the riches of glory to any who choose Christ (Eph. 1:13-14) Somehow this has escaped the eyes of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jehovah Witness and blood transfusions
Jehovah Witnesses refuse blood transfusions. They believe that references to the Old Testament Scriptures of “eating blood” prohibit receiving blood through transfusions. They forbid it even in cases of life and death.
The interpretation of eating blood in the Old Testament and consequently refusing blood transfusions is such a stretch it is hardly worth commenting on.
|The verses in Leviticus 7:26-27 upon which the Watchtower builds this rule has to do with eating blood, not transfusions.|
|Orthodox Jews of today, who still scrupulously observe the regulations for kosher butchering and bleeding of meat, have no religious objection to blood transfusions.|
|Lev. 3:17 says, “You must not eat any fat or any blood at all,” yet the Jehovah’s Witnesses have no objection to eating fat.|
Jehovah Witness arguments
They may argue, “Don’t you know it is essential for one’s salvation to use the correct name of God, Jehovah”?
In their new world translation, the name Jehovah appears numerous times throughout Scripture emphasizing that this is the name of God the Father. Even though thousands of original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament never include the name, the Watchtower took liberty to put it in any place they felt referred to the Father. While the name Jehovah is included in some legitimate translations in the Old Testament, it is not included to the extent of the Watchtower’s translation. The KJV only uses the name four times. The original Hebrew includes the name “Yahweh” – or more literally, YHWH. Since the Hebrew scribes had a superstitious dread of pronouncing the name of god, they would say “Adonai” (Lord) instead. Eventually scribes inserted the three vowels of “Adonai”, a-o-a, into YHWH and produced Yahowah, or Jehovah. Most modern scholars believe “Yahweh” is the correct rendering. However, we should not criticize anyone for using the name “Jehovah” but rather understand it is not necessarily the most accurate.
They may argue, “The term Trinity is not in the Bible.”
This is accurate, the word Trinity is not in the Scriptures, but the concept is. There are many terms that have been created to simply describe a concept.
They may argue, “The concept of the Trinity is not reasonable. It is not something anyone can understand.”
The doctrine of the Trinity and the deity of Christ are the watershed issues that theologically divide mainstream Christianity from the cults. It certainly is the case with the Witnesses. These are the main areas that Jehovah’s Witnesses will attack. In their reasoning, they attempt to make the concept of the Trinity appear illogical, and even ridicule its teaching. While the doctrine of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) might not be easy to understand, that does not make the concept unreasonable.
They may argue, “Jesus tells us, ‘The Father is greater than I.’ Therefore, Jesus is not God Almighty.”
There are many verses that seem at first appearance to justify their position. But when these Scriptures are truly considered in context, it becomes obvious that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are trying to manipulate the Scriptures for the sake of their own beliefs.
|The Scripture that contains “The Father is greater than I” is found in John 14:28. In this passage, Jesus is telling His disciples that He will soon depart to the Father and that the Holy Spirit will be sent to them.|
|The Jehovah’s Witnesses use this verse to contend that Jehovah was greater than Jesus not only in regard to office or position but also in regard to His person. While it is admitted that God the Son in human flesh did not have the same position or role as God the Father had, during His time on earth, this did not make him inferior.|
|In order to make good interpretation, all the Scripture must be taken into account before proclaiming a doctrine, not just the passages that support what you want to believe, as the Jehovah Witnesses have done. In regard to Jesus’ statement on the Father being greater, you must also include what He said in John 5:18 about being equal to the Father. “…He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.|
|And what about all of the following verses: John 1:18, 5:22-23, 10:30, and 20:28?|
John 1: 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
John 5: 22 “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”
John 20: 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing. 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
The Watchtower’s prophetic inaccuracy
|The prophecy of the second coming of Christ in 1874 by Charles Russell failed to occur.|
|Russell’s prophecy that Armageddon would occur in 1914 failed.|
|The Watchtower’s prophecy that Christ would return to earth in 1918 failed.|
|Russell’s prophetic teaching – that the Great Pyramid of Egypt was “God’s Bible in Stone” showing us God’s prophetic time table – was later contradicted by a Watchtower teaching that the Great Pyramid was rather Satan’s Bible in Stone.|
|Judge Rutherford’s prophecy of the earthly resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophets of the old between 1925 and 1929 failed.|
|The Watchtower’s prophecy of Armageddon in 1954, forty years after Christ supposedly returned in 1914, never came to pass. Then they began to teach that 1958 was Armageddon.|
|The Watchtower’s prophecy that the world would end in 1975 failed. Over a million disillusioned Jehovah’s Witnesses left the organization in 1976 and 1977.|
Witnessing to a Jehovah’s Witness
Remember that they don’t think they will ever get into heaven. They have been told that only 144,000 will make it into heaven and that all those slots are full.
Remember that most of them are not coming door-to-door because of some driving force to see people won over to Jehovah, but rather a required work-for-salvation motivation. Their eternal life in Paradise is connected to their obedience to spread the watchtower world. The moment they cease to be an active part of selling the publications and going door-to-door is the moment that the other Jehovah’s Witnesses question their eternal life in Paradise
Remember that many of them have no experience of God’s saving grace. Therefore, their conversion is more of a cognitive agreement than a “born again” (John 3: 3) transformation.
Remember they have been brainwashed to believe that anything outside of the Watchtower Organization is from the devil. In their eyes, the devil probably wants to use you to lead them astray. It is sad, but the average Jehovah’s Witness is so preoccupied with the evils of this dying old world and involvement in proselytizing his neighbors that he usually has little time or desire to examine his faith or community objectively.