The Jehovah’s Witnesses: True Christianity or Christian Cult?
A cult is a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader. A cult also includes those religious groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses who use (possibly exclusively) non-standard translations of the Bible, put additional revelation on a similar or higher level than the Bible, or have beliefs and/or practices that are not held by current, mainstream Christianity.
Charles Taze Russell in 1872 initiated what was later to become known as The Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was born on February 16, 1852, the son of Joseph L. and Anna Eliza Russell. He had great difficulty in dealing with the doctrine of eternal hell fire and in his studies came to deny not only eternal punishment, but also the Trinity, and the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
When Russell was 18, he organized a Bible class in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1879 he sought to popularize his aberrant ideas on doctrine. He co-published “The Herald of the Morning” magazine with its founder, N. H. Barbour. By 1884 Russell controlled the publication and renamed it, “The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom.” Russell also founded Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society (now known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society). The first edition of The Watchtower magazine was only 6,000 copies each month. Today the Witnesses’ publishing complex in Brooklyn, New York, churns out 100,000 books and 800,000 copies of its two magazines, Watchtower and Awake –daily!
Russell claimed that the Bible could be only understood according to his interpretations. A dangerous arrangement since he controlled what was written in the Watchtower magazine. This kind of assertion is typical among leaders of cult religions.
After the death of Russell on Oct. 31, 1916, a Missouri lawyer named Joseph Franklin Rutherford took over the presidency of the Watch Tower Society which was known then as the International Bible Students Association. In 1931 he changed the name of the organization to “The Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
The group has over 7 million followers world wide. The Watchtower Society statistics indicate that 740 house calls are required to recruit each new member of the nearly 200,000 new members who join every year.
Since its inception, the Watch Tower Society has taught that humanity is experiencing the last days of the present world order. In the years leading up to 1914, 1925 and 1975, the Society’s publications expressed strong expectations that Armageddon would occur in those years, resulting in surges in membership and subsequent defections.
Jehovah’s witnesses are most well-known for their door-to-door preaching, and for their refusal of military service and blood transfusions. The religion’s stance of conscientious objection to military service has brought it into conflict with governments that conscript citizens for military service, and activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses have subsequently been banned in some countries.
Jehovah’s Witnesses meet in “Kingdom Halls” instead of churches. Once a year, those who are considered, “anointed ones” may partake of the Lord’s Evening Meal (communion). They do not observe holidays or birthdays and are forbidden to vote or salute the flag. They have their own version of the Bible, “The New World Translation” which has been intentionally mistranslated in order to bolster their heretical doctrines.
John 1:1, which reads “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” is shockingly mistranslated in the New World Translation to read,
“Originally the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”
John 14:14 should read, “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” Jesus made it clear that we could pray to him directly. The New World Translation intentionally omits the word “me.”
In Colossians1:16 -17 the NWT inserts the word “other” in brackets into those two verses four times:
“Because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist.”
By inserting the word other in that passage, the NWT has distorted its meaning. Since they teach that Jesus is a created being and Colossians 1:16 opposes this by stating that Jesus created all things, then basic logic would declare that Jesus can’t be part of his own creation. By inserting the non-inspired word “other”, which does not appear in the Greek in verses 16 and 17, the meaning is changed, allowing for their erroneous interpretation.
Their view of the person and nature of Jesus is highly distorted. It is the assertion of the Jehovah’s Witnesses that before Jesus lived on earth, he was the Archangel Michael. Therefore, they have intentional mistranslated the following passage from Jude:
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Jude 1:9
It is clear from this passage that the Archangel Michael calls on the Lord Jesus to rebuke the devil. Therefore, it is quite evident from this verse that Michael is not the Lord. The Jehovah Witness Bible intentionally mistranslates the Greek word, kyrios and replaces the word Lord, with Jehovah. Using the name Jehovah in a translation is only appropriate when translating from a Hebrew manuscript containing the name of God. The four Hebrew letters (Yod, He, Waw and He) is called the “Tetragrammaton”. The four characters are the four Hebrew letters that correspond to the English letters YHWH and are transliterated Yahweh.
The witnesses claim that Jesus is not God but a created being, Michael the archangel. On earth he was a man who lived a perfect life. After dying on a “stake” and not a cross, he was resurrected as a spirit and his body was destroyed.
This claim of a spiritual resurrection only is a contradiction of the very words of Jesus himself found in the Gospel of John. After Jesus had cleared the Temple of the money changers, the Jews demanded that Jesus show them a miraculous sign to prove his authority to have done so.
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. John 2:19-22
The doctrine of only a spiritual resurrection was necessary to cover up the evidence of the Witnesses being false profits who had predicted that the Second Coming of Jesus would take place in 1914. Instead of recognizing that their prophecy was false, they said that Jesus returned invisibly in 1914 in spirit. They also claim that Jesus and the angels will soon destroy all non-Jehovah’s witnesses.
The false prediction, cover up and threats of the Jehovah’s witnesses are very similar to those we discussed when studying the 7th Day Adventists. The world was predicted to end in 1844 with the Second Coming of Christ, by William Miller, a New England Baptist itinerant preacher. Miller’s followers condemned all the churches of the day as apostate and “Babylon,” and warned Christians to come out of them. A great many did, and the “Adventist” movement was born and grew rapidly.
Christ did not appear in 1844. After this “Great Disappointment,” one “little flock” still insisted the date of their original predictions had been correct. They decided the event marked by 1844 was not the Second Coming, but the entrance of Christ into the Holy of Holies in the Heavenly Sanctuary. There, they said, He began the “Investigative Judgment.” Of course only Seventh Day Adventists will be saved and “Sunday-keeping” will be the mark of the beast in the future.