The purpose of this article is to provide a summary of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, articulate why it is a cult, and explain how one could share orthodox Christianity with a member of this Society. Although members of this “sect” of Christianity claim to be the one true representation of the people of God on the planet, the reality is their doctrine is so contrary to orthodox Christianity that it is a cult. Moreover, a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) can be shown that the Christian orthodox doctrine a Witness denies to be true is in fact affirmed in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (the Watchtower Bible).
With roots back to 1870 and Charles Russell’s Bible study group in Pennsylvania, JWs subscribe to the belief that only their sect is the one true people of God. They teach that there is only one God whose only name is Jehovah, and they are His witnesses. As JWs, each follower has a personal responsibility to proclaim the truth in a very deliberate way often in door to door witnessing and home “Bible” studies. They believe Jesus Christ is not the only begotten Son of God, and that their translation of the Bible, the New World Translation (NWT) published from the Watchtower Society, is a more perfect translation of the Bible. Walter Martin writes, “The Watchtower Society is an absolute autocracy. All authority is vested in the [Society] including the authority to understand and teach the Bible.”
Although a JW may affirm faith in Christ, their understanding of how one is saved is based on good outweighing bad. Words like repentance, faith, grace, atonement and justification are not understood in the traditional orthodox sense. Witnesses are motivated to do right and adhere to a legalistic set of rules to please Jehovah. At best, Christ created an opportunity for men to be saved, but he did not secure the salvation of anyone. The Watchtower teaches that only 144,000 (the “Anointed Class”) are born again and will spend eternity in heaven with God; “the other sheep” (John 10:16) live forever in an earthly paradise. The souls of everyone else are annihilated. Witnesses do not believe in hell or the eternal punishment of those outside of Christ.
In 1914, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus returned, in an invisible way, to establish His kingdom. This kingdom is administered by the Watchtower Society headquartered in Brookline, New York. Thus, they meet in kingdom halls and are not organized like a New Testament church. According to Hager JWs are obsessed with uniformity including “uniform kingdom halls, consistent dress codes, and training for evangelism.”
The Jehovah’s Witnesses understanding of truth substantially departs from orthodox Christianity in four major areas. They are: the entire Godhead, the Person (in both the deity and incarnation) and the salvific work of Christ (including the gospel), the second coming of Christ and the reality of Hell (including the eternal punishment of lost souls). The Watchtower Society indoctrinates new converts with false doctrine in two ways: first, they use a modified translation of the Bible and second, they teach only from their books, tracts and lessons and discourage the use of other Christian material.
Beginning with the doctrine of God, the JWs err in teaching that God’s only name is Jehovah who has not revealed Himself to mankind in three Persons who are one God. The JWs believe Jesus is a god—but not the Almighty God. He existed as a created spirit being until His birth and then was only human while on the earth. They deny the truth that Jesus is God possessing all the same divine attributes as God the Father. Finally, JWs believe that the Holy Spirit is not a separate distinct person in the Godhead but the non-personal active force of God.
Not only does the Watchtower Society deny the full deity of Christ, but it also denies His incarnation. The mysterious union of deity and humanity in the Person of Jesus...
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