Jehovah’s Witnesses: an Introduction.

Who is at your Door?Jehovah's Witnesses calling at the door

The vast majority of Jehovah’s Witness at your door will be very genuine people. They will be zealous for the truth they have learnt from their relationship with the ‘organisation’-the Watchtower Bible &Tract Society. The individual will be calling on you as part of their ‘mission field.’ They will feel in doing this they are serving Jehovah.

Most Jehovah’s Witnesses will attend two weekly meetings. On Sunday they meet to hear a 30-minute Bible discourse (sermon) followed by an hour-long Watchtower study and discussion. They also meet together on a weekday evening for a three-part meeting focusing on Bible study based on Watchtower instruction, field ministry designed to teach communication skills, and Christian living, usually focused on serving the organisation. Twice a year Jehovah’s Witnesses will join with other congregations in a ‘circuit’ for a one-day assembly. Larger gatherings happen once a year in a three-day ‘regional convention.’ They will also meet annually for their version of communion, a ‘Memorial Meal,’ in which the great majority are passive observers since they believe only an elect – the 144,000 – may participate.

Jehovah’s Witnesses regard door-to-door visiting their primary obligation. Every opportunity is used to encourage witnessing activities. It might be said they gather to learn how to visit from house to house, then they visit from house to house. In his book Apocalypse Delayed, (3rd ed. 2015, p.287) M James Penton describes this activity as the ‘touchstone’ of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ lives, and a means of salvation. He quotes the Watchtower of 15 July 1979, ‘It is in our endurance in proclaiming ‘this good news of the kingdom’ that we may attain to salvation.’

Jehovah's Witness street cartsThose who commit to 50 hours a month are auxiliary pioneers, while those committed to  70 hours a month are regular pioneers. Witnesses who volunteer for missionary service give an average of 120 hours a month. Plenty of Jehovah’s Witnesses dislike the house calls and do it out of duty. The introduction, in recent years, of the familiar street carts has been very popular. Jehovah’s Witnesses stand by their carts and are not allowed to initiate conversations, only talking to people who walk up and speak to them.

Jehovah’s Witnesses History

The Organisation started in Pittsburgh USA in the early 1870’s when several young people, influenced by the Adventist movement, began studying the Bible to discover the date of Christ’s return. Today, it is not as it originated with the founder Charles Taze Russell; in those days there was room for differences of opinion and expression in a loose affiliation of Bible study groups. Their second President, Joseph Rutherford, made many changes to the Witnesses and, by the time he finished, it is doubtful if Russell would have recognised the group he started.

Many did not like the changes that Rutherford made and left to start their own splinter groups. Some of these still survive today although they are very small in comparison. One change that Rutherford suggested in 1931 was to call them Jehovah’s Witnesses, whereas previously they were called International Bible Students or ‘Russellites’.

The third President, Nathan Knorr was the one who worked hard to bring unity to the organisation and recognition of the central headquarters at Brooklyn New York. The fourth President, Fred Franz, was the society’s leading theologian, although he was not a theologian, or a Hebrew/Greek scholar. He played a major part in the translation of the New World Translation of the Bible. He was president from June 1977 until his death in December 1992.

Franz was succeeded by Milton Henschel, who was president until a reorganisation in 2000 in which the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses was separated from the Society’s board of directors. Henschel remained on the Governing Body until his death in 2003, being replaced as president by Don Adams. He was replaced in 2014 by Robert Ciranko and it seems to have been kept pretty quiet at the time. Follow this link to a discussion of the subject.

Today the Governing Body is not longer the legal head of the organisation but regard themselves as the ‘spiritual’ head. This means that they do not need to get embroiled in the various court cases taking place. Witnesses believe that the Watchtower Society is the only channel Jehovah is using on this earth today. The Governing Body, currently eight men living in Brooklyn, New York, is the mouthpiece of that channel, otherwise known as the ‘Faithful and Discreet Slave.’ [Matthew 24:45]

Jehovah’s Witnesses Main Beliefs

JEHOVAH alone is God. There is some similarity here in that Christians believe that the Father is God but the difference is in the fact that the Witnesses believe that He alone is God. They also believe that all true Christians should call God by this name.

JESUS is the first created being of Jehovah. They try to prove this by a mistranslation of Revelation 3:14 among other Scriptures. They also believe that Jesus is called Michael the Archangel in Scripture, based on a clumsy misunderstanding of Thessalonians 4:16. Jehovah created Jesus and then used Jesus to create all other things. To make this work they make an indefensible addition to Colossians 1:15-16. Jesus is not God but a lesser god who created ‘all other things.’

THE HOLY SPIRIT is an active force likened to electricity. He is therefore not even a person and certainly cannot be God.

THE TRINITY is a pagan doctrine invented in the 4th century.

1914 has always been a key date but has had different meanings. Today it is the date for the end of the Gentile Times and the invisible return of Jesus Christ to take his throne in the heavens. Until November 1995 it was also taught that the generation that was alive in 1914 would not pass away until Jehovah’s Kingdom was set up on earth.

There are only 144,000 with Jesus in heaven. The rest, the GREAT CROWD, will have eternal life on a paradise earth.

All who are worthy will be RESURRECTED [more akin to recreation] and after ARMAGEDDON will be given a second chance of salvation.

Only ACTIVE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES, doing God’s will by serving the organisation, will survive through Armageddon – the outpouring of God’s wrath on the earth. The remainder of earth’s population will be destroyed with no hope of resurrection.

HELL does not exist, only annihilation.

There is nothing ETERNAL in man. After death he ceases to exist until God remembers and recreates him.

Other secondary beliefs include the teaching that blood transfusions are forbidden by God, Jesus died on a stake not a cross and Christmas, Easter and birthdays should not be celebrated.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scripture

The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society has it’sown translation of the Bible, the New World Translation. The latest edition was issued in 2013 and, although still clumsy and filled with theological ‘translation’ is an improvement on previous editions. They also produced an Interlinear New Testament called the Kingdom Interlinear. This shows the original Greek text with a literal English translation underneath and by the side the New World Translation. This is particularly helpful to show where the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society has mistranslated probably up to 20% of the original Scriptures. Hard copies of the Interlinear are no longer issued, but a copy can be found on their website.

Difficult Questions

Once saved always saved?

The Society say we can lose our salvation if we do not endure to the end. Let’s look at the texts they use to make this case:

Jude 5 – Jude is not saying that some of God’s people might lose their salvation but rather those who escaped Egypt yet did not believe, or trust in God, were destroyed. This is about nominal and not true believers.

Matthew 24:13 – These verses do not say that if you do not endure you will lose eternal life! Compare Luke 21:18,19 the Lord promises that not a hair of your head will perish. John 10:28-29 states no one can snatch true believers out of Jesus’ hands, or out of the Father’s hands. We may lose our physical life but not the promised spiritual life.

Philippians 2:12 speaks of works of obedience, but note it states we are to ‘work out your own salvation,’ not work for your own salvation. the following verse,13 tells us‘it is God at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.’ Ours is not a DIY Salvation. See Philip.1:6, which tells us, ‘God who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.’

Hebrews 10:26 – ‘speaks of those who ‘go on sinning wilfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth’ for whom ‘there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin.’ The fact of wilful continuation in sin indicates people who, despite their knowing the truth, are not genuine believers. The one sin that cannot be forgiven is a refusal to repent. The unrepentant reject forgiveness in their very attitude towards their sin. See 1 Corinthians 3:9-15 where works are not the important thing for salvation but a relationship with the Lord (v23) which issues in changed hearts, and changed lives.

The Father is greater than Jesus?

John 14:28 – The Witness is taught that the Father is greater than Jesus and therefore they cannot both be God. The same Greek word for greater is used in John 14:12. Will we do works different to the Lord? Will we do better or higher works? No, but we will do works greater in quantity although not quality. Jesus was saying, while I am on earth, my Father is quantitatively greater in heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:28 – The Jehovah’s Witness also believes that as Jesus is subjected to the Father, He must be lesser than the Father. Ephesians 5:21 & 22 uses the same Greek word for subjection. Is each person here ‘lesser’ than the other and of a different nature? Of course not. This word is used in Scripture not to mean lesser than, or inferior to, but to denote order. There is a mutual subjection in the family, in the local church, and in the Godhead. Yet men and women are equally ‘mankind,’ and, within the Godhead, each has the same quality, the being of God. See When Jehovah’s Witnesses Worshipped Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is not a person but a force?

Although they have no credible biblical argument for the claim, Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the personal nature of the Holy Spirit, insisting he is simply an impersonal force. This sounds rather like the Force in the Star Wars movies – but:

Acts 8:29; 13:2; Heb.3:7 – The Holy Spirit talks to people so cannot be an impersonal, unintelligent force.

John 14:26; 16:13 – The Holy Spirit is a helper, a teacher, a guide, a speaker, and a hearer. All these are attributes of personality.

1 John 2:1 – He is described in the above texts as ‘another parakletos‘ signifying another of the same kind. The same as what? In 1 John 2:1 Jesus is referred to as our ‘parakletos with the Father.’ The Holy Spirit is another of the same kind as Jesus.

The Son is described in Hebrews as ‘the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature,’ (Heb.1:3) In Colossians he is ‘the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.’ (Colossians 1:15) John tells us ‘ll things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.’ (John 1:3)

The Spirit is described in John’s Gospel as ‘another’ of the same kind as Jesus.

This Spirit testifies of Jesus (John 15:26) and Jesus assures us that salvation is through hearing and believing (trusting in) his words and in God (John 5:24) a message that carries on through the New Testament (Rom. 1:28; Eph.2:8-9)

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