I have recently had two people knock on my door who were from the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation, and as I pointed them to my blog, I just wanted to put here a few links to sites with further information to help them, should they be interested.
Although most people are familiar with the JW organisation, many will not know how their beliefs and practices differ from those of true, Bible believing Christians. It is certainly worthwhile familiarising yourself with a few of their core doctrines and a brief history of their organisation, to both help you to speak with them and to protect and warn others of the falsehoods they propagate.
It is important to remember that most of the Jehovah’s Witnesses at your door, or in the street, will often be genuine people. They are frequently zealous for the truth they have learnt from their organisation – the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The individuals no doubt feel that they are serving God when they come calling on you as part of their ‘mission field.’ It may however, just be a chance for you to share some testimony with them instead. But as I realise how daunting it can sometimes feel, I just thought to post some key points and links for you in this post.
General Info on Cults & False Teachers
To state that there are lots of false teachers in the world would be a colossal understatement, and as such there is no way we can learn about all of them. However, we can certainly familiarise ourselves with some of the similarities in the way they operate. Therefore, before we look at the JW’s, let us consider some similarities of “cults,” in general.
Now we know that nobody wakes up one morning and thinks, “You know what, I think I’ll join a cult today”! That just doesn’t happen! What is more likely is that you (or someone you care about) just happens upon someone or some information that perhaps appears a little intriguing. Then little by little you get drawn into their ways of thinking and living until your thoughts and beliefs have changed to another person’s thoughts and beliefs. You may wake up one day and think how did I get here and is it possible to get back again?
Other people are born into, and brought up in cult-like religious groups, and are taught that their group is the only one with “The Truth.” For such people it is difficult to start thinking for themselves – but it is still possible. I have met those who have left the JW organisation, for instance, and found the liberty that is only in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the joy of true salvation and the “knowing” that they are loved and saved by Jesus Himself.
General Patterns of Operation of Cults
- Love and kindness may initially be extended greatly towards you. This feels inclusive, non-threatening and safe; or it can feel exciting and positively life changing.
- Only some of their teachings may be available at the start; oftentimes being purposefully vague. The rest you may be drip fed to you later – take special note of websites that require you to sign in to obtain further teaching, or those that prefer to relate to you by email (privately) rather than have a comments section on their internet sites.
- They may use the Bible as a basis of doctrine but then add their own teachings and interpretations to it. They mis-use the Bible scriptures by taking them out of context &/or they warn you not to trust certain parts of the Bible at all.
- They may want to separate and isolate you from all your personal support, such as your family and friends.
- To further the isolation of members, some groups have properties in remote locations so that it is practically and physically difficult for you to leave them.
- The leaders tend to demand obedience, subjugation and subservience from their members.
- They will use various methods of psychological pressure in order to achieve this subordination of all activities to the leader’s will. This will entail your own loss of personal freedoms, to do, and maybe even to think you own thoughts eventually.
- Such leaders present themselves as infallible; possessing all the answers, and the only route to salvation, or the only “true church” – speaking dismissively or even in a derogatory manner about other Christians who are outside their group.
- Psychological pressures are used to ensure members conformity. Adherence is often enforced through notions of guilt, shame, and failure by both the leader and other members, for any who question their beliefs and practices.
- Dependency upon the leader or group for your basic needs to be met; such as communal living and food provision.
- They will want your money, of course! They may tell outsiders, whom they hope to enlist, how “free” everything is – but meanwhile members are paying, paying and paying to keep the organisation going.
- And, of course, all former members are shunned and perceived as hostile.
Do the Jehovah’s Witnesses use any of these methods?
It would appear that they do indeed operate in some of the ways listed above. Yet the JWs at my door tell me that their organisation cannot be a cult due to the large numbers of people that belong to their group. They also tell me how many countries they operate in – as if these facts give their beliefs and practices the stamp of approval from the Living Almighty God.
However, as I know they have much convoluted and twisted understanding of the Bible, I didn’t get drawn into their “logic”. I have over thirty years of living out my Christian faith and having the Lord teach me and strengthen me along the way. Yet, I know that there may be those weaker or younger in the faith that may benefit from knowing that there are Christian websites to learn from to help them to stand firm in their interactions with people from the JW organisation.
Some Facts About the JWs and the Watchtower
1. The organisation’s history is that it was started around 1870 by Charles Taze Russell. As a young man he held ideas that deeply contradicted biblical Christianity. His obsession with the return of Christ led to a series of false date predictions, notably that it would occur in 1914!
As the site, “Got Questions” says, “Charles Taze Russell was a false prophet and a teacher of “another gospel” (Galations 1:8-9)
Upon his death in 1916, there was a split and the leadership of the JW organisation was taken on by Joseph Franklin Rutherford, who centralized its organizational control, of what is now known as the “Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.”
Neither of these men (nor any subsequent leaders) were following the true Bible teachings; but were instead leading people away from true faith in Christ alone, and in trusting in God’s Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth, as they read the Bible for themselves.
2. The JW Governing Body, currently eight men living in New York, USA, is the mouthpiece of the organisation, otherwise known as the ‘Faithful and Discreet Slave.’
We must question why these 8 men are seeking to take the place of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives. Why are they controlling people’s understanding of the Bible, when the Bible itself says:-
“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” 1 John 2:27
3. They make much of their belief in the correct name of God being Jehovah. But is this correct? In ancient Hebrew God’s name was written without vowels and it translates into English as YHWH (or YHVH). YHWH means ‘I Am what I Am.’ The most likely pronunciation is Yawheh. “Jehovah” is actually a Latinization of a made-up name combining the vowels of YHVH and the vowels of Adonai (LORD in Greek) thus YAHOVAH. Thus it is not in the Bible at all as the name for God.
4. Historically they used the KJV Bible but now mainly use their own translation – the Watchtower’s New World Translation? This often diminishes the deity of Jesus Christ, amongst other errors. (Read more here https://reachouttrust.org/new-world-translation-accuracy/ )
5. Though they use the Bible, they add to it by the pronouncements of the Governing Body, through Watch Tower Society publications. Such additional teachings carry
almost as much more weight than the Bible. JWs may do very little Bible reading themselves, but instead read huge amounts of Watchtower literature, relying on it to interpret the Bible for them.
In fact the JW organization
teaches warns them not to read the Bible on its own. They say that if anyone did such a thing, that within two years they would end up lost in darkness, believing the trinity and other such doctrines. This is quite an admission from them, as it speaks clearly that their teachings oppose the Bible.
“The Watchtower asserts that the Bible predominantly only applies to the 144,000 Anointed leaders. The majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses are considered Other Sheep and only benefit from the Bible by extension when following the direction of the Anointed leadership, which is regarded a privilege.” JWfacts.com
6. They reject the Trinity of God the Father, Jesus Christ, His son, and the Holy Spirit. Their God is a single person, who does not know all things and is not everywhere.
7. Their teachings about Jesus differ widely from mainstream Christianity. They teach that Jesus was the first created being and that Michael the Archangel became a human in the form of Jesus.
Read more on Jesus is God here https://reachouttrust.org/is-jesus-god/ They also deny that Jesus physically rose from the dead. They instead teach that Jesus rose from the dead as a spirit, and his body was dissolved and taken by God.
8. They teach that the Holy Spirit is an active force likened to electricity, rather than part of who God is.
9. They do not believe in hell and eternity, as taught in the Bible. They believe in annihilation, that death is a state of non-existence with no consciousness. (At least until God remembers and recreates those found worthy). In fact, mis-
using Revelation, they teach that there are only 144,000 with Jesus in heaven! The rest, the “Great Crowd,” they teach, will have eternal life on a paradise earth!
10. JW members have a “works-based” schedule, of door-to-door canvassing to distribute their literature (The Watchtower and Awake) and invite people to do “
Bible Watchtower study” with them. They are required to submit regular individual “Field Service Reports” to the organisation leaders about such work.
The Watchtower publication states (15 July 1979), ‘It is in our endurance in proclaiming ‘this good news of the kingdom’ that we may attain to salvation.’ (Plenty of Jehovah’s Witnesses dislike the house calls and do it out of duty.)
11. Members who disassociate or resign from the Jehovah’s Witness organization, are described in the Watch Tower Society literature as wicked or apostate and are to be shunned.
12. The JW Watch Tower Society has made repeated, false prophecies and unfulfilled predictions about major biblical events such as Christ’s second coming, the advent of God’s kingdom, and Armageddon.
It seems quite clear to me that the Jehovah’s Witnesses meet many of the criteria for a cult organisation. They are not even Christian, as they do not teach the true Christ Jesus, nor the true God of the Bible, nor the true Holy Spirit. They do not teach that salvation is through faith in Christ alone, but instead teach salvation is by staying firmly under their control and works as they dictate them.
They are in bondage to man-made doctrines that keep them there by means of fear, mind-control, isolation and lies. These are typical of cult-like organisations the world over!
Even though true Christians may appear to share some of the same beliefs as the JW’s we certainly need to be aware of the major differences.
Should you wish to interact with them, please be aware that they may be attributing different meanings to words that we have Biblical beliefs about. It can sometimes therefore, be difficult to talk to them when they keep agreeing with you, or if they put obscure questions to you that have many levels of wrong assumptions that are difficult to unpick.
Remember, that they have been so strongly taught that they are right and everyone outside of their organisation is wrong, that it feels like an uphill battle to actually really communicate with them. However, I take the stance that as they are willing to discuss the Bible and things of a spiritual nature then I tend to tell them my testimony and understanding of the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. I generally try to use the opportunity to be a light and a witness, as best I can, out of a heart of love; praying that God will convict them of His real truth in all these things.
I will just add what I have read on the Reachout Trust website.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to be the teacher, never the pupil. They generally won’t accept literature from you despite their aim of convincing you to take one of their books or magazines. How, then, is it possible to get through to them?
There are a number of strategies that can be used. Perhaps the easiest is to ask Jehovah’s Witnesses questions like a pupil asking of a teacher. Having a question in mind also helps ‘break the ice’ when you speak with them; it’s a good opening to begin a discussion. Don’t expect great results though, they won’t agree with you even if they do see your point. All you can do is sow a seed of doubt and pray that the Holy Spirit will work on them and that the seed will one day bring forth fruit.
There are two types of questions; one that lays a doubt over the validity of the Watchtower Society and the other shows them the truth in the Bible. You are sowing doubt and sharing truth. If you haven’t time for both, share truth. Neither will be effective without the power of the Holy Spirit behind it – remember that and remember too that you are just one step in His plan so don’t get discouraged.
If you don’t have much time or you end up hitting a brick wall then just give them your testimony; tell them how you came to know Jesus and tell them how wonderful He is and how great it is to have a relationship with Him and His Father.
JWs rarely have such relationships it seems and this can be a great draw.
Our testimony alone is a most powerful weapon and allowing yourself to be led by the Spirit gives your words power far greater than we could produce on our own, however well prepared we may be.”
- Don’t panic!
- Always be prayerful and seek God’s wisdom.
- Always be respectful, polite, and calm.
- Remember that the individuals speaking with you are not the Organisation.
I always make a point of speaking some truth to any JW’s that happen to come to my door, due to the strong impact upon me of a video I watched in my youth. It was a testimony of a woman who had come to know true salvation by faith in Christ alone, after many hard years of religious bondage amongst the JW organisation. Her very moving words were:-
“I must have knocked on lots of Christian’s doors in all those years. Why did none of them tell me the truth about Jesus?”
As I too, was once lost in the darkness of false beliefs, I choose to use the opportunity that these door-knocking people present to me. I will tell the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me. The love of Christ for those lost in darkness compels me to share such gospel truths with any who will listen, praying that the Lord of the Harvest will gather them to Himself in His way and His time.
I will sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me.
How He left His home in glory
For the cross of Calvary.
I was lost, but Jesus found me,
Found the sheep that went astray,
Threw His loving arms around me,
Drew me back into His way.
I was bruised, but Jesus healed me;
Faint was I from many a fall;
Sight was gone, and fears possessed me,
But He freed me from them all.
Days of darkness still come o’er me,
Sorrow’s paths I often tread,
But the Savior still is with me;
By His hand I’m safely led. Listen to hymn on You Tube
Some Helpful Websites
Reachout Trust –jehovahs-witnesses
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) – jehovahs-witnesses
JW Facts.com – core-watchtower-concepts
Whatsoever Things Are True – jehovah-witnesses-the-false-witnesses
May the true and living God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit shine the truth upon all that happen to read this far on my blog post today.
Please note that links and references to other blogs do not necessarily mean that I endorse all the content of those blogs. Please use your own discernment – as always.
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