The Jehovah’s Witnesses were founded by Charles Taze Russell, a former haberdasher from Philadelphia, in early 1872. He was baptized a Congregationalist, and was raised in a strict Protestant family. His later study of the Bible led him to deny the existence of hell and the doctrine of the Trinity, and to express Arian views concerning the nature of Jesus Christ, denying His divinity
They offer a cunning mixture of Scripture verses and “almost” Christian doctrines. Their approach, like that of the Mormons, is to stress elements of their doctrine which avoid controversy. But they are an “organization” of slaves, working desperately to “earn” eternal life. They seek salvation, not by grace, but by becoming “Kingdom Publishers.” They don’t have a personal relationship with Christ (who they say is not God), but rather they observe a system of law and works.
- Jehovah God existed from the beginning. His first creations were two angels, Michael (who later becomes Jesus) and Lucifer.
- Jehovah appointed Lucifer to watch over earth, but the angel became jealous of Jehovah. He seduced Adam and Eve, and became Satan. He challenged Jehovah’s right to rule! Jehovah gave Satan 6,000 years to try to win over all humanity. When he fails, Jehovah God will re-establish his kingdom and destroy Satan and all his rebellious followers.
- After thousands of years of this struggle, Jehovah God arranged for Michael to cease to exist and be recreated as Jesus, a human. He was killed as a ransom on a torture stake (not a cross) for all mankind. This released men from Adam’s sinful legacy, and gave them a chance to be worthy of eternal life, if they were faithful Witnesses.
- When the human Jesus died, he stayed dead. He was recreated as a spirit (no bodily resurrection) and lives in heaven.
- Jesus Christ (now Michael) returned to earth invisibly in 1914 (the date has been changed repeatedly) and is working through his “Organization” to re-establish Jehovah’s kingdom over the earth.
- The final battle between Jehovah and Satan, the Battle of Armageddon, is to start shortly, settling the question, “Who will rule earth?” A very special 144,000 Witnesses, the only ones considered “born again,” will rule with Jesus in heaven at the end of this battle. All other Witnesses (numbering millions) will survive Armageddon, and live forever on earth, in the kingdom of the “New World.”
- After 1,000 years of this utopian Kingdom comes the final test. Satan will deceive many. He and those who rebel with him will be destroyed by fire from heaven (no eternal hell, just quick annihilation).
Jehovah’s Witnesses deny most of the basic doctrines of Christianity. Former Witnesses point out several basic denials. They claim:
- Jesus Christ is not God. Rather, he is Michael the archangel.
- The Holy Spirit is not a person, but an “active force.” J.W.’s deny the Trinity.
- When you’re dead, you’re dead. Man has no eternal soul, any more than animals.
- Jesus Christ was not raised bodily from the grave, but was recreated as a new “spirit body.”
- Jesus returned invisibly in 1914. There is no “visible coming” planned in the future.
- There is no hell. Just like animals, when we die, it is over.
- Only 144,000 people achieve heaven. The rest of the faithful Witnesses who have died will be recreated on earth during the kingdom of the “New World”, while the wicked will undergo complete destruction.
- Witnesses are deeply convinced that the end of the world will come within a very few years.
- Each Witness is considered an ordained minister to give witness to Jehovah by announcing His approaching Kingdom. He may do this by door-to-door evangelization, by meeting with others for home Bible studies, or by standing at street corners to display Watch Tower literature. Preaching the good news is the only means of salvation. Ordinarily, the entry level Jehovah’s Witness is called a “servant”. A “publisher,” attends five hourly meetings a week and is to devote 10 hours a month witnessing. A “pioneer” gives 100 hours a month to the society.
Focusing on the Old Testament, the JW system is a legalistic one. They forbid blood transfusions (they say that is eating blood). They also consider any salute to a flag as worship of that flag, and is therefore prohibited. They don’t vote, hold public office or serve in the military. However, when they baptize, they use the formula, “…In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
They are only allowed to use their own translation of the Bible and other official publications. Unfortunately, many purposeful mistranslations exist in their version to support their tenets.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the immortality of the soul, the existence of hell, and the seven sacraments. Although they have ritual of baptism, they regard it as merely the exterior symbol of their dedication to the service of Jehovah. They observe no feast—including Christmas—except the Memorial of the Last Supper, which they hold once a year after sundown on the 14th day of Nisan (a former method of computing the date of Easter and Passover) and during which only those who consider themselves as being among the celestial 144,000 may partake of the bread and wine.