Herbster Evangelism
Psalm 85:6

Jehovah’s Witness

History

The Jehovah’s Witness cult was founded by Charles Taze Russell in 1896. It is also known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. At an early age, Russell rejected and denounced many of the major doctrines of Christian teaching. In 1879 Russell founded The Herald of the Morning, a publication which, over time, grew into The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom, the name by which it is known today. Russell started “Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society” in 1884 and published a series of seven books which are now know as Studies in the Scriptures. “According to Watchtower statistics, in January 1981 the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society…had known branches in more than 100 lands and missionary and kingdom preaching in over 250. Its literature was distributed in 110 languages, and the Society’s volunteers numbered 563,453.”

The Society shifted its headquarters from Pennsylvania to Brooklyn, New York in 1908.Russell continued leading “The Brooklyn Tabernacle” and proclaiming his teachings until October 31, 1916, when he passed away on a train in Texas. In Walter Martin’s substantial work The Kingdom of the Cults (p. 80-81), Martin documents the following statements from the obituary column of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 1, 1916, concerning C.T. Russell:

“’The Society progressed amazingly under the joint administration of husband and wife, but in 1897 Mrs. Russell left her husband. Six years later, in 1903, she sued for separation.’

“The eagle goes even further and declares that ‘at the trial it will show that ‘Pastor’ Russell’s religious cult is nothing more than a money-making scheme.’”

It is documented in many different sources that Russell was raising money through the deceptive sale of “Miracle Wheat.” This wheat seed purportedly had supernatural power to grow five times as much wheat as any other brand. It was sold for $1 a pound, and those reading Russell’s teachings were encouraged to purchase it. All proceeds were to go to the Watchtower Society, which Russell clearly controlled by owning 990 of the 1000 shares of stock.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, then, are clearly following the teachings of a deceitful man. Russell was a renegade and an antagonist who used his heretical teachings for personal fame and fortune. Russell claimed to be an expositor of Scripture and a theologian, but had no formal education, did not know Greek or Hebrew and was never ordained. He then had the audacity to claim that his teachings were necessary to understanding the Bible! It is not the primary purpose of this writing to discredit only the teacher of heresy, but the heretical teachings themselves. However, the historical background regarding the character and methods of the founder does put into question the credibility and validity of the actual teachings of The Watchtower Society.

Heresies

The most destructive aspect of the Jehovah’s Witness cult is the incredibly twisted false teaching that it presents. A comprehensive explanation of the heresies of this cult could fill volumes! This limited project will list and describe two of the major heretical doctrines.

Doctrine of Jesus Christ

The Jehovah’s Witness official doctrinal statement concerning Christ is listed on the Watchtower Society’s website. They believe that Jesus is the first creation of God and that He lived in heaven as a spirit person before he came to earth. They state, “Jesus was a perfect human just like Adam.” They do not, however, believe that Jesus is God. According to them, Jehovah used Jesus to be his master worker in creation and his chief spokesman. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again in a different form, but they do not believe that Jesus raised Himself from the dead. Instead, they believe that God resurrected Christ as a spirit creature. In his work The Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin chronicles several quotes from the Watchtower literature:

“This one [Jesus] was not Jehovah God, but was ‘existing in God’s form….’ He was a spirit person…he was a mighty one, although not almighty as Jehovah God is…he was a God, but not the Almighty God, who is Jehovah” (Let God Be True, 32-33)

“As chief of the angels and next to the Father, he [Christ] was known as the Archangel (highest angel or messenger), whose name, Michael, signifies ‘Who as God’ or ‘God’s representative’” (Studies, 5:84)

“He was the start of God’s creative work…He was not an incarnation in flesh but was flesh, a human son of God, a perfect man…” (The Kingdom is at Hand, 46-47, 49)

Because they vehemently reject the deity of Christ, they also reject the bodily resurrection of Christ. They believe that, by the power of Jehovah, Jesus rose in spirit but not in body.

Doctrine of God

Since the Jehovah’s Witness cult denies the deity of Christ, it is reasonable to expect that they would also deny the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. They teach that there is one God and his name is Jehovah. According to their teaching, “God has many titles but has only one name. That name is Jehovah. In most Bibles, God’s name has been removed and has been replaced with the titles Lord and God. But when the Bible was written, the name Jehovah appeared in it some 7,000 times!”

They oppose any teaching of the Trinity as from the devil. In their minds, this teaching is dangerous because it confuses people about the one true God.

“Beyond a doubt, the Trinity doctrine has confused and diluted people’s understanding of God’s true position. It prevents people from accurately knowing the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah God, and from worshiping him on his terms.”

In addition to the above, the Jehovah’s Witness cult promotes many other false teachings. For example, they believe that Jesus died on a stake, not on a cross; they believe earth will never be destroyed or depopulated; they teach that the soul ceases to exist at death and that hell is mankind’s common grave; they claim to be the only source of truth and teach that if you do not accept their truth your soul will be destroyed.

Helps

It is ironic that two of the major texts of Scripture used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to disprove the deity of Christ in reality prove that very thing! Colossians 1:15-17 and John 1:1 are helpful passages to refer to when talking with people who have been deceived by the erroneous teaching that Christ is not God.

[Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. Colossians 1:15-17

The cult in question teaches that the word “firstborn” denotes that Christ was a created being, and thus he is not God. The text of the New World Translation (their false translation of the Bible) also inserts the word “other” six times in the passage to make it clear that Christ only created all other things after He Himself was created. In reality, however, the word “firstborn” (πρωτότοκος) does not denote that Christ is the first created being. In the Old Testament, the word “firstborn” was used to denote rank and importance. For example, in Psalm 89:27, Solomon is called the firstborn even though he was not actually the first child of David. This word, πρωτότοκος, simply denotes that Jesus Christ has priority and sovereignty over all creation. Later on the text teaches that Christ created all things. How could he create all things if He Himself was created? There is another Greek word that would have been used to say that he was the first created being. Although it is appropriate to prove the deity of Christ from the word “firstborn,” it may be more helpful to deal with the preceding phrase, “He is the image of the invisible God,” and explain the word “image.”

The word “image” (εκων) undeniably points to the deity of Christ. The word denotes primarily two ideas: representation and manifestation. “Image is not to be understood as a magnitude which is alien to the reality and present only in the consciousness. It has a share in the reality. Indeed, it is the reality. Thus εκών does not imply a weakening or a feeble copy of something. It implies the illumination of its inner core and essence.”  Jesus Christ is an exact representation and manifestation of the inner core and essence of the invisible God, Whose name is Jehovah! Jesus Christ is Jehovah in the flesh. Jesus made this point very clear in John 10:30 when He said, “I and my father are one.”The Pharisees obviously understood that Jesus was actually claiming deity; their response to Christ was, “You, being a man, make yourself out to be God” (John 10:33).

John 1:1 is translated improperly in the New World Translation. It states:

“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was a God.”

It may seem a small matter to insert such a little word as “a” before “God,” but it actually has a great deal of significance; inserting the word “a” affects the entire meaning of the verse! The Jehovah’s Witnesses insert this word to deny the deity of Christ. This verse, however, cannot be refuted when looked at in the original language.

 εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος

There is not one other modern English translation that translates John 1:1 the way the New World Translation does. All of them say “the word was God.” Θεος is used “quite predominately of the true God, sometimes with, sometimes without, the article.” In John 1:1-18 the word θεος is used six times without the definite article. In order for the Jehovah’s Witnesses to be consistent in their translation, they would have to translate all of them as “a god,” which they do not. It is clear to conclude that the absence of the definite article does not mean that someone other than the one true God is being mentioned.  The absence of the definite article actually clarifies that θεος is the predicate and ο λογος is the subject. It is properly translated, “The word was God.”  The Jehovah’s Witnesses have, to their own satisfaction at least, sufficiently twisted the Scripture to fit into their theology. It is helpful to remember here that founder C.T. Russell did not know Greek or Hebrew!This text was obviously changed to be consistent with the foundational teachings of the cult.

If Christ, as their own Bible teaches, is a god, then the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in a polytheistic system. They refuse to say that Jesus is God. They will call him a mighty god, but notthe Almighty. Exodus 20:3 commands that we are to have no other gods before the one true God. In trying to explain away the deity of Christ in John 1, they are actually contradicting their own statements concerning the “one true God!” Christ must be either the one true God or a false god!


[1] Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults. (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 1997) p. 79.

 

[2] Ibid p. 80.

 

[3] Jehovah’s Witness official site, “Who is Jesus Christ,” [on-line], accessed 20 April 2004, available from http://www.watchtower.org/library/rq/article_03.htm, Internet.

 

[4] Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, p. 108

 

[5] Jehovah’s Witness Official Site, “Who is God,” [on-line], accessed 20 April 2004, available from http://www.watchtower.org/library/rq/article_02.htm, Internet.

 

[6] Jehovah’s Witness Official Site, “Should You Believe the Trinity,” [on-line], accessed 20 April 2004, available from http://www.watchtower.org/library/ti/index.htm, Internet.

 

[7] “What do JW’s believe, but won’t tell the general public,”[on-line], accessed 20 April 2004, available from http://www.bible.ca/Jw-Wont-Tell.htm, Internet.

 

[8]Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. “An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire ‘BE’ series”–Jkt., Col 1:15. (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989.)

[9]Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. Edited by Kittel, Gerhard, Geoffrey William Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976.)

 

[10] Arndt, William F., and Gingrich, F. Wilbur, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. (Unversity of Chicago Press, 1957) p. 357

 

[11] Josh, McDowell, A Ready Defense. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993) p. 337

[12]Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Jn 1:1.