The sect known today as the Jehovah's Witnesses started out in Pennsylvania in 1870, as a Bible class started by Charles Taze Russell. Russell named his group the "Millennial Dawn Bible Study." Charles T. Russell began writing a series of books he called "The Millennial Dawn," which stretched to six volumes before his death and contained much of the theology Jehovah’s Witnesses now hold. After Russell's death in 1916, Judge J. F. Rutherford, Russell's friend and successor, wrote the seventh and final volume of the "Millennial Dawn" series, "The Finished Mystery," in 1917. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was founded in 1886 and quickly became the vehicle through which the "Millennial Dawn" movement began distributing their views to others. The group was known as the “Russellites” until 1931 when, due to a split in the organization, it was renamed the “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe? Close scrutiny of their doctrinal position on such subjects as the Deity of Jesus, Salvation, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, the Atonement, etc., shows beyond a doubt that they do not hold to orthodox Christian positions on these subjects. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is Michael the archangel, the highest created being. This contradicts many Scriptures which clearly declare Jesus to be God (John 1:1,14; 8:58; 10:30). Jehovah’s Witnesses believe salvation is obtained by a combination of faith, good works, and obedience. This contradicts countless Scriptures which declare salvation to be received by faith (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the Trinity, believing Jesus to be a created being and the Holy Spirit to essentially be the power of God. Jehovah’s Witnesses hold to a ransom theory of the atonement, in which Jesus' death paid only for what mankind lost when Adam sinned - namely, the right to perfect life on earth. Thus, they believe in a faith + works arrangement, where sin and death are freely atoned for by Christ, but physical perfection is attained through personal effort, coupled with faith in Christ.
How do the Jehovah’s Witnesses justify these unbiblical doctrines? (1) They claim that the church has, over the centuries, corrupted the Bible, and (2) They have re-translated the Bible in what they call the New World Translation. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society altered the text of the Bible to make it fit their false doctrine – rather than basing their doctrine on what the Bible teaches. The New World Translation has gone through numerous editions, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses discover more and more Scriptures that contradict their doctrines.
Jehovah's Witnesses are readily shown to be a cult that is only loosely based upon Scripture. The Watchtower bases its beliefs and doctrines on the original and expanded teachings of Charles Taze Russell, Judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford, and their successors. The Governing Body of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is the only body in the cult that claims authority to interpret Scripture. In other words, what the Governing Body says concerning any Scriptural passage is viewed as the last word, and independent thinking is strongly discouraged. This is in direct opposition of Paul's admonition to Timothy (and to us as well) to study to show yourself approved of God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of God. This admonition, found in 2 Timothy 2:15, is a clear instruction from God to each of His individual children in the Body of Christ to be like the Berean Christians and search the Scriptures daily to see if the things they are being taught line up with what His Word has to say on the subject.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses should be commended for their “evangelistic efforts.” There is probably no religious group that is more faithful than the Jehovah’s Witnesses at getting their message out. Unfortunately, the message is full of distortions, deceptions, and false doctrine. May God open the eyes of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the truth of the Gospel and the true teaching of God’s Word.
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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Thank you again Mr. Thompson for this enlightment on Jehovah's Witnesses. A branch of my own family -- a great aunt led her family in this false direction. And she had about 9 or 10 children. Of course we love them, but we know something is different. I have not known how to witness to them for lack of knowledge. But I knew it was a false direction. Thank you again for being so informative. God Bless You.