The Jehovah’s (False) Witnesses — Why You Should HEAD FOR THE HILLS
Most of us have had (or will have) run-ins with members of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” due to their dedicated practice of canvasing neighborhoods to acquire converts. They claim to staunchly adhere to what the Bible teaches, but do they really? Are they a legitimate Christian organization? Is it wise to meet with them and consider their doctrines? And maybe join them?
As a non-sectarian teacher of the Bible my main concern is “rightly dividing” the Scriptures and teaching others what God’s Word reveals on all the relevant topics. As such, I’m unbiased as far as the varying sects of Christendom are concerned. I personally don’t care who’s right or who’s wrong on any given issue — or partially right or partially wrong — all I care about is what God’s Word teaches through observing the common sense rules of interpretation:
- Scripture interprets Scripture.
- Context is King,
- Taking the Bible literally wherein possible and only figuratively when the text is clearly symbolic, in which case we should look for the obvious truth the symbolism intends to convey.
- If the plain sense makes sense — and is compatible with the rest of Scripture — we shouldn’t look for any other sense lest we end up with nonsense.
You can read more about these hermeneutical guidelines here.
With this understanding, my studies and experience compel me to inform you that the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) are a wholly unhealthy group with which to get involved. Sure, they’re nice, moral people, generally speaking, obviously because they use the Bible’s moral code as a prototype, as should all believers. Yet this doesn’t negate several blatant problems inherent to the JWs, which is why I sometimes amusingly refer to them as the Jehovah’s FALSE Witnesses.
Let’s now rundown seven of the most important problems with this religious organization without going into too much detail (links are supplied for further information):
1. The JWs are staunchly sectarian in an unhealthy way.
The JWs claim that their governing organization, the Watchtower in New York, alone knows the true interpretation of the Scriptures on any given issue. This would be fine if several of their creative interpretations of Scripture (to be nice) weren’t wildly unbiblical, like the “other sheep” whom Christ spoke of (John 10:16) and all that goes with that bizarre teaching. Even young students of the Bible realize that the “other sheep” clearly refer to the Gentiles worldwide.
Because of the JWs staunch sectarianism, members are not free to think & pursue the truth for themselves through study of the Scriptures with the help of the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27); on the contrary, they are obligated to believe & practice whatever the Watchtower says the Scriptures teach, whether it’s true or not. Genuine debate on any of their established doctrines is forbidden (of course they’re willing to talk about their peculiar beliefs, but members must agree or they’re removed).
For details on what’s wrong with sectarianism see this article.
2. The most important topic that the JWs are obviously erroneous about is the nature of Christ, whom they claim is not God, but rather a created angel whom the Almighty then used to create the Earth & Universe
For clear biblical proof that Christ is the LORD and not merely a powerful angel like Michael see this article.
3. The JWs are legalistic: Obsessed with eye-rolling rules that they’ve added to biblical Christianity, like how believers can’t celebrate holidays — including birthdays or Thanksgiving — can’t participate in politics, including voting, and can’t receive blood transfusions, etc.
The JW organization by its very nature puts people into religious bondage, which is the opposite of genuine Christianity (Galatians 5:1).
See this article for proof that celebrating holidays — or not — is not an issue for New Covenant believers.
4. The JWs have a long, documented history of failed predictions and date-changing concerning the end of the world and Christ’s return, which the New Testament clearly says we can’t do anyway
All we can do is pinpoint the general time of Christ’s Second Coming, not the day or week or month; see Matthew 24:36.
Here is a documented list of false predictions by the JWs for your perusal.
5. Their founder, Charles Taze Russell, embraced the pyramidology theories of John Taylor and Charles Piazzi Smyth, studying the Great Pyramid of Giza in order to unlock eschatological truths
What’s curious about this is that the JWs are staunch about (supposedly) following the Bible as the basis of their teachings when nothing in the Holy Scriptures encourages us to study Egyptian pyramids to uncover eschatological truths. (Eschatology, by the way, refers to the study of end things).
In 1928 the Watch Tower Society rejected the idea that the Great Pyramid was a blueprint for biblical chronology. The group officially adopted the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in 1931.
6. Russell’s successor and president of the JWs, Joseph F. Rutherford, was guilty of an outrageous greedy scam; here’s the story:
In San Diego Rutherford acquired a stunning villa in 1929 less than a couple months after the Great Depression hit America. He used this extravagant bastion during the cold month wherein he lived like royalty while most folks were struggling thru the challenges of the economic collapse. He drove a Cadillac, imported luxury items and smoked expensive cigars.
Rutherford hoodwinked his Witness sheep into accepting the idea that the mansion was erected for Abraham & the faithful heroes noted in the Hall of Faith chapter, Hebrews 11. He christened the manor “Beth Sarim,” which was Hebrew for “House of Princes.” In a Time magazine interview from March, 1930, Rutherford maintained: “I have purposely landscaped the place with palm and olive trees so that these princes of the universe will feel at home.”
Rutherford stated when he built the manor that any minute the LORD would slay every human on the planet – male & female — except genuine JWs. The saints of the Hall of Faith chapter would then be resurrected and have their earthly homecoming and. With King David’s lead, they would use Rutherford’s lavish villa as their command center to govern the earth.
Of course, the majority of JWs today are unaware of this ridiculous con because Watchtower leaders have brushed it under the proverbial rug. The manor was retailed under the radar in 1942 and the doctrine that the resurrected patriarchs would soon arrive and reign was scrapped in 1950.
The deed of the estate stated that Rutherford was allowed to use the grounds as he determined until “the appearing of David or some of the other men mentioned in the Eleventh Chapter of Hebrews…” It went on to stipulate that when King David appeared it was necessary for him to prove his identity to the leaders of the Watchtower before he could take ownership of the estate!
You can read more about the Beth Sarim scam here.
7. The JWs are a works-based human religion with an emphasis on house-to-house evangelism
Not that a believer can’t participate in this kind of evangelism, but consider this: There’s not one instruction in the New Testament epistles for believers to ‘witness’ door-to-door. JWs might respond, “How else will people hear the good news?” Numerous ways: Natural contact, revivals, internet, tracts, books, radio, TV, inviting people to assembly services (whether conventional facilities or house churches), etc.
I’m not at all saying that believers shouldn’t go door-to-door, as Christ sent his disciples to do this on two occasions, but there’s no specific instruction or rule in the New Testament that believers must go door-to-door. Why? Because not all cultures or generations are conducive to the door-to-door approach, as 1st century Israel was, and believers need to adjust their evangelistic methods accordingly.
What God’s Word does say is that believers should “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks” us to give the reason for the hope that we have, “But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15); and that we should “shine out like stars in the universe” as we “hold out the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16).
You see? There’s no ironclad commandment that believers must go door-to-door, but rather general instructions to hold out the word of life in a respectful fashion as led of the Holy Spirit. Speaking of which, if the Holy Spirit guides a believer to go door-to-door in certain neighborhoods, he/she should by all means do so. But, be careful, because any evangelistic effort can become a works-oriented religious grind. Learn to be led of the Spirit. Amen.
Other Relevant Issues
Before closing, let’s consider four additional questions or points that are apropos to the discussion…
‘But why would God allow a counterfeit group to mislead me and trip-up my pursuit of truth?’
This is an understandable argument by anyone that might be sincerely looking into the JWs or whom the JWs are trying to convert.
But consider Satan’s second temptation of Christ:
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
As you can see, the devil quoted a Scripture passage in his temptation of Christ. This shows that Satan & evil spirits know the Scriptures well and will sometimes use them to tempt people to take a wrong path. The Messiah naturally recognized that Satan’s usage of this verse conflicted with other truths and so he cited another passage that gave balance to the matter, which is in line with the hermeneutical rule “Scripture interprets Scripture.”
Of course you can only do this if you’re familiar with the Scriptures, so I encourage you to acquaint yourself with God’s Word more and more by developing a daily reading program. Try different reading plans until you find one that fits your lifestyle and schedule. Consider changing your plan every now and then so it doesn’t get predictable and boring. Also switch translations from time to time; and consider reading plans based on topical studies, which is what I often do. Always pray for knowledge, understanding and wisdom before you read and the LORD will bless you (Proverbs 2:1-7).
Now here’s the point I want to drive home: The Enemy can and will tempt you through a person or group who cite Scripture (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). The Jehovah’s Witnesses are a good example. Yet such a temptation can very well come through people functioning under the tag of whatever camp you favor, e.g. Baptist, Evangelical, Charismatic, Reformed, Mainline, Pentecostal, Emergent, etc. Thankfully, it’s easy to recognize these fakes, if you know for what to look (Matthew 7:15-23).
The Communal Appeal of the JWs
I’ve never been involved with the JWs, but I generally enjoy chatting with them from time to time because they’re usually nice people and interesting to converse with, although some are so staunch they’re obnoxiously Pharisaical. I even worked with a JW years ago, but for only like 5-7 shifts altogether; he was a quality person and great worker.
Like with practically any group/club/organization — religious or secular — there’s a feeling of kinship when you meet together. Human beings naturally gravitate toward groups and the sense of belonging therein. We understandably look for a place to fit. So I fully understand every believer’s desire to find a Christian group where s/he gels.
But gelling with a certain group of people socially and finding them interesting to talk with isn’t grounds for the group’s correctness or healthiness. I’m sure hanging out with hedonistic Spring Breakers would be “fun” to a point, but is that grounds for doing so? If you meet a friendly coven of witches or satanists, should you join?
‘But the JWs are right about some things’
Practical every religious group on earth is right about some things. Does that mean you should join ’em? The above seven main problems of the JWs absolutely eliminate the group as a consideration for involvement.
I live not too far from where the JWs’ founder, Charles Taze Russell, started out — the Pittsburgh area — and so I’m familiar with his & the JWs’ questionable history. He was on the right track about some things — e.g. the nature of human damnation and the fact that immortality is only available through Christ and not something people intrinsically possess apart from the gospel (see Matthew 10:28 & 2 Timothy 1:10) — but wildly off on others, as noted above. Please notice that I said he was “on the right track” on some issues, which is different than saying he was wholly correct. The reason he was “on the right track” was because he stepped outside of the blinding influence of unbiblical religious tradition – e.g. the absurd doctrine of Amillennialism — and he simply knew how to read. Anyone who knows how to read will be blessed by the truths of the Scriptures if they apply them and change accordingly, regardless of their sectarian tag.
Being close to the truth or even correct on some important topics is good, but this doesn’t make the JWs “the one true church” or a healthy organization with which to get involved. It certainly doesn’t make their other creative (to be nice) doctrines true, like the idea that Christ is actually Michael the archangel, which is blatantly disproven by Scripture; or the laughable idea that the “other sheep” refer to spirit-believers who go to Heaven eternally rather than the new heavens and new earth; not to mention Russell’s documented devotion to pyramidolgy in interpreting biblical eschatology.
If You Join the JWs You Could End Up Losing Years of Your Life, Literally
Let’s say you hook up with the JWs despite the above warnings because you enjoy hanging with them and, besides, there’s an attractive girl/guy at the local “Kingdom Hall” that you’d like to know better. Say you marry and have children who naturally become part of this quasi-Christian sect. But, then, it dawns on you somewhere down the road that they’re a false cult and you want to leave. Many members of your family, however, stay and dis-fellowship you to prove their faithfulness. If this happens, not only did you waste valuable years of your life on this heretical group, but it also forced a split from beloved family members and friends.
Simply put, the JWs are experts at sucking people into their fold wherein the converts end up losing months or years of their lives. Why waste your time? Remember what Jesus said: “If the blind lead the blind they will both fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:14). Seek out legitimate believers & groups with which to fellowship; just remember: No group is perfect and they’ll be even less perfect if you join them.
If you don’t want to experience the tangled web described in this section, I urge you to…
Head for the Hills for your Spiritual Welfare!
For all of these reasons and more I encourage you to head to the hills if you’re considering hooking up with the JWs or even meeting with them to discuss things. Since JWs are trained to answer certain arguments and know what passages to cite in order to (supposedly) back-up their dubious beliefs, the only believers who should meet with them are mature saints that know the LORD and know the God-breathed Scriptures. If you’re not in this category, flee for your spiritual welfare!
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