An Examination of The Jehovah’s Witnesses. Overview. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have over 6 million followers in 234 Countries. Their “door to door” witnessing accounts for nearly 1.1 billion man-hours of labor annually. They have aggressive and extensive training programs for all their members.
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Overview • The Jehovah’s Witnesses have over 6 million followers in 234 Countries. • Their “door to door” witnessing accounts for nearly 1.1 billion man-hours of labor annually. • They have aggressive and extensive training programs for all their members. • They are absolutely convinced that they are “The Only True Church.”
Background of the Group • Their services are conducted in “Kingdom Halls” generally three times a week. • They have no official pastors. • Their Headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York.
Background of the Group • Their Official name is the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. • They publish an enormous amount of material including two magazines AWAKE! and The Watchtower. • They have produced their own version of the Bible: The New World Translation.
History of the Jehovah Witnesses • Began as a “Bible Study” led by Charles Taze Russell in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (USA) in 1870. • Officially organized in 1884 as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society with Russell as the President. important of the six.
History of the Jehovah Witnesses • Since 1884 there have been only six Presidents: • Charles Taze Russell (1884-1916) • Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1916-42) • Nathan H. Knorr (1942-77) • Frederick William Franz (1977-92) • Milton G. Henschel (1992-2002) • Don Alden Adams (2002 to present) • Russell and Rutherford are the most important of the six.
Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) • Russell came from a wealthy family, was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and himself a successful businessman and writer. • He began the group in 1884. • He was not trained in either theology or biblical studies. subsequent leaders.
Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) • His personal life was littered with controversies. • His theology was largely contained in his six volume work: Studies in the Scriptures. • A significant portion of his teachings have either been modified or abandoned by subsequent leaders.
“Judge” Rutherford (1869-1942) • Joseph Rutherford was able to become the President of the Watchtower Society after the death of Russell. • There was a significant schism between Rutherford and others in the group. • Rutherford named his group Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931.
“Judge” Rutherford (1869-1942) • He was a successful attorney and a “substitute Judge” in the US Circuit Court. • He continued to practice law, arguing 14 cases before the Supreme Court until just before he died. • Most of the foundational principles of the group were formulated by Rutherford, including the “door to door” witnessing, and the publication of the AWAKE! magazine.
New World Translation of the Bible • Published in serial form in the 1950’s and as a single volume in 1961. • The translators names have never been released and no one has ever admitted to being involved in the project. However, it is known that three of the Watchtower presidents were instrumental in the “translation.”
New World Translation of the Bible • None of those known to have worked on the NWT had any training in the Biblical languages, and none of the presidents had a college degree in any subject. • In a court hearing Franz was forced to admit that he could not translate a simple passage (Gen 2:4) from Hebrew into English.
New World Translation of the Bible • In English, the style is often turgid and forced. The translation of important passages is trumped by their doctrinal considerations. • Bruce Metzger, one of the outstanding New Testament scholars of this generation stated that they “incorporated several quite erroneous renderings of the Greek” into their version.
What Do They Believe? • It is perhaps simpler to begin with what the Jehovah’s Witnesses DO NOT believe: • They reject the Doctrine of the Trinity. • They reject the Deity of Christ and affirm the early heretic Arius, as a “Great Christian Leader” and place him in their line of teachers.
What Do They Believe? • They reject the bodily resurrection of Christ. • They reject the personality of The Holy Spirit. He is viewed as a “force” or “activating power,” not an individual member of the Trinity. • They reject the idea of eternal punishment.
What Do They Believe? Jehovah Is God: The true God is not a nameless God. His name is Jehovah. His principal attributes are love, wisdom, justice, and power. God is a "spiritbeing,” invisible and eternal, but has a spiritual body and is not omnipresent. The historic Christian doctrine of the Trinity is denied. "The dogma of the Trinity is not found in the Bible, nor is it in harmony with what the Bible teaches. It grossly misrepresents the true God” Biblical Response: The Bible teaches there is only one God. He was called by several names in the Scripture. Christians acknowledge that the term "Trinity" is not found in the Bible. Nonetheless, the doctrine is clearly taught in Scripture. The Bible teaches that the One God exists in the three persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (see Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 8:6; 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 1:21- 22; 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:2).
What Do They Believe? Biblical Response: The Bible teaches there is only one God. He was called by several names in the Scripture. Christians acknowledge that the term "Trinity" is not found in the Bible. Nonetheless, the doctrine is clearly taught in Scripture. The Bible teaches that the One God exists in the three persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (see Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 8:6; 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 1:21- 22; 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:2).
Jehovah Witnesses and Salvation • The KEY issue with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or any cult, after their view of God and Christ, is their position on the doctrine of salvation.
Jehovah Witnesses and Salvation • Jehovah Witnesses teach salvation by works: • “It is for the reward of eternal life that every last person on earth should be working for” (Watchtower 15 Oct 1972, p. 492).
Jehovah Witnesses and Salvation • Jehovah Witnesses teach salvation by works: • “Jehovah God will justify, declare righteous, on the basis of their own merit all perfected humans who have withstood that final, decisive test of mankind [the release of Satan from bondage after the 1,000-year reign of Christ]” (Life Everlasting-In Freedom of the Sons of God, 1966, p. 400).
Jehovah Witnesses and Salvation • Two Classes of Saved People: Only 144,000 faithful elect Jehovah’s witnesses, known as the "Anointed Class” will go to heaven at death to rule with Jesus. Only those born since 33 C.E. (A.D.) can be part of that number (based on Rev 14:1-3). Most Jehovah's Witnesses hope to be among the "other sheep" or "great crowd” who will not go to heaven, but, after Armageddon and the millennium, will live forever in Paradise on earth. • Biblical Response: The WBTS' doctrine of a duality of saved people is not supported by a careful study of the Scriptures. The Bible makes no distinction of two classes of saved people (see Matt. 5:12; Phil. 3:20). In Revelation 7 and 14, both the 144,000 and the "great crowd" or "multitude" are "before the throne" in heaven. All born-again Christians will live forever in heaven (see John 3:16; 14:3).
Jehovah Witnesses and Salvation • Two Classes of Saved People: • Biblical Response: The WBTS' doctrine of a duality of saved people is not supported by a careful study of the Scriptures. The Bible makes no distinction of two classes of saved people (see Matt. 5:12; Phil. 3:20). In Revelation 7 and 14, both the 144,000 and the "great crowd" or "multitude" are "before the throne" in heaven. All born-again Christians will live forever in heaven (see John 3:16; 14:3).
Some Oddities of Jehovah Witnesses’ Theology • The Jehovah Witnesses have more than a few oddities in their theology. Items which do not matter as far as salvation is concerned, but are interesting: • Only the best 144,000 Jehovah Witnesses Go to Heaven, the rest remain in a “millennial” earth. • When Jesus went to heaven He became who He had previously been, The Archangel Michael.
Some Oddities of Jehovah Witnesses’ Theology • While begun as a “Bible study” the Witnesses believe that only the organization can correctly interpret the Bible. “the Bible…belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe they can interpret the Bible” (Watchtower, 1 Oct 1967, p. 587)
Some Oddities of Jehovah Witnesses’ Theology Biblical Response: All people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord are saved by grace through faith and are born again (see John 3:3-16; Rom. 10:9-10; Eph. 2:8-9). No single person, church, or religious Organization can claim exclusive possession of The source of salvation or authority to interpret the Bible. All born-again Christians are capable of understanding and interpreting the Scriptures through the illumination of the Holy Spirit (see 2 Tim. 3:16; John 14:26; 15:26; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).
Some Oddities of Jehovah Witnesses’ Theology • They teach that Christ returned in 1914. He is currently administering His “still invisible kingdom” from Watchtower headquarters in Brooklyn. • They teach that to accept a blood transfusion would cause one to lose their salvation. • They reject all holidays regardless of the type. Do not vote, hold political office, serve in the military, salute a national flag.
Some Oddities of Jehovah Witnesses’ Theology • In the first edition of the New World Translation, a note explains why a particularly Greek phrase egw. eimi (John 8:58) as “I have been” on the basis of the word being in the “Perfect Indefinite Tense.” The problem is, there is no such tense in any language. The phrase is universally translated as “I Am.”
Witnessing to Witnesses • It must be remembered that Jehovah’s Witnesses are highly trained in their doctrines before they go out. • They are well versed in their New World Translation and will use Greek and Hebrew grammatical terminology although none that I have ever encountered are trained in either language. • It also must be remembered that this group is not Christian. A person cannot believe the Witness’ doctrines and be saved.
Witnessing to Witnesses • The Major Issues to emphasize are the Deity of Christ and Justification by Faith. • Demonstrating that your know your Bible is important. • Do not allow yourself to be side tracked by unimportant issues. • Be polite and courteous (they are taught that unbelievers will persecute and ridicule them). • Make a deal with them: Allow them to speak for 15 minutes, uninterrupted; as long as they will allow you do the same.
Witnessing to Witnesses Have a clear understanding of your faith and the Bible. Make a definite plan for the witnessing encounter and take the initiative. Initially, talk about personal concerns to establish a friendly, courteous, and sincere relationship with the Jehovah's Witness. Gradually move on to a discussion of theological issues.
Witnessing to Witnesses Be prepared to cite and explain specific biblical passages supporting Christian doctrines. Define your terms clearly and ask the Jehovah's Witness to do so also. Present the basic plan of salvation and encourage the Jehovah's Witness to make a decision.
Witnessing to Witnesses Focus the discussion on the primary issue of the person and work of Christ. Stress the need for a personal relationship with Him. Share your personal testimony of God's grace and your faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Pray and trust the Holy Spirit to lead you.
References The Compact Guide to World Religions, Dean Halverson, General Editor, 1996 Nelson’s Illustrated Guide to Religions, by James Beverley, 2009 So What’s The Difference, by Fritz Ridenour, 2001 Online: www.4truth.net www.wikipedia.org www.tms.edu/FacultyDocuments/Jehovah%20Witnesses.ppt