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Millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) worldwide spend approximately a billion hours each year serving the Watchtower Society. Claiming that people must “come to Jehovah’s organization for salvation,”1 great pressure is placed upon JWs to perform according to all their guidelines. In addition to attending five meetings each week, JWs are required to distribute Watchtower ( WT) material for several hours each month, conduct WT “Bible studies,” and research various topics in WT literature for discussion during their meetings. JWs are forbidden to serve in the military, salute the flag, say the pledge of allegiance, vote in elections, take blood transfusions, celebrate birthdays and holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, and are forbidden to read literature critical of the organization. Over the years, JWs have also been discouraged from associating with nonJW friends, participating in after school activities such as sports, and furthering their education by going to college.
All these restrictions and demands placed on JWs tend to isolate them from the rest of society, so that the organization becomes the “life” of JWs who actively serve it. If a JW fails to follow the guidelines set up by the Society, they are subject to be “disfellowshipped,” and thus shunned by all their JW friends and relatives.2 For many, this is a painful experience which leaves former JWs feeling hopeless and empty. Because of these policies and the overwhelming control this organization has over the physical and spiritual lives of so many, it is of paramount importance that a person thoroughly examine the Society’s claims and history before becoming involved with this organization. The Society itself has said, We need to examine, not only what we personally believe, but also what is taught by any religious organization with which we may be associated. Are its teachings in full harmony with God’s Word, or are they based on the traditions of men? If we are lovers of the truth, there is nothing to fear from such an examination.’
CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL
In 1879, at the age of 27, Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Watchtower Bible &Tract Society, began publishing Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. Born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania in 1852, he was raised a Presbyterian but later joined a liberal Congregational Church because he preferred its views. For 10 years prior to publishing his Zion’s Watch Tower, Russell studied with a splinter group off of Second Adventists and was greatly influenced by their teachings against the bodily return of Christ and the immortality of the soul. 4
Russell engaged in practices and taught many things that today’s JWs totally reject and consider to be of pagan origin. In fact, if he was a JW today, he would be disfellowshipped for his beliefs and practices! Among these are the following:
(1) Using the symbol of the sun god Ra on the cover of his books.’ 5
(2) Using the Masonic Knights Templar logo of the Cross and Crown on his issues of Zion’s Watch Tower.6
(3) Teaching that he was the “Faithful and Wise Servant” of Matthew 24:45-51, which resulted in many of his followers actually worshipping him.’ 7
(4)Teaching that “the forming of a visible organization.. would be out of harmony with the spirit of the divine plan.” “Beware of ‘organization,’ ” he said, “It is wholly unnecessary.” 8
(5)Teaching that Christians “are divine beings—hence all such are Gods, thus we have a family of God… in the resurrection we will rise in our true character as Gods.”9
(6) Teaching that “the whole body of Christ the ‘Mighty God’… shall share in the work of restoring the life lost in Adam, and therefore be members of that company which as a whole will be the Everlasting Father to the restored race.’ 10
(7)Teaching that the Lord Jesus should be worshipped and that he is not Michael the archangel.” 11
(8)Celebrating birthdays and holidays such as Christmas.’ 12
(9)Teaching that one can join the military as long as he “did not shoot anybody.” 13
(10) Teaching that white skin is better than black skin, and “the white race exhibits some qualities of superiority over any other.”14
(11) Teaching that the shape of one’s brain determines his responsiveness to God.’15
(12) Teaching that Jehovah “governs his universe” from the star “Alcyone” in the Pleiades constellation.16
(13) Teaching that the “Great Pyramid of Gizeh” was “God’s stone witness” which proved Russell’s claims that “the time of the end” was from 1799-1914, with Jesus’ invisible presence beginning in 1874, and the destruction of present governments in 1914.17
THE DOUGLAS WALSH TRIAL
In the 1954 Douglas Walsh Trial in Scotland, Fred Franz, who was Watchtower president from 1977-1992, was asked about the Society’s changes in doctrine. Here is how he answered:
Q. So that what is published as the truth today by the Society may have to be admitted to be wrong in a few years? A. We have to wait and see.
Q. And in the meantime the body of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been following error? A. They have been following misconstructions on the Scriptures.
Q. Error? A. Well, error.
—Douglas Walsh Trial, Pursuer’s Proof, 1954, p114
Satan attempted to use his influence in a subtle way, and in this he was successful. How so? By insinuation and falsehood. He put forth error, under cover of a lie, as a substitute for truth. In other words, he put darkness for light (Watchtower, 5/15/76, p304).
The Watchtower Society published their own translation of the Bible in 1950—the New World Translation (NWT). JWs are told that this is the most accurate, unbiased translation available. The Society claims that the NWT Committee was made up of highly trained Greek scholars who did their best to “transmit his [God’s] thoughts and declarations as accurately as poCssible.”‘” However, if you try to check the credentials of these men, you will find that the Society is unwilling to release this information, stating that the Committee desires that all the glory for this translation go to Jehovah God and therefore the translators desire to remain anonymous.
But is this the real reason why they desire to remain anonymous? Over the years, through further investigation, the identity of these translators has been revealed; and the facts show these “scholars” were totally unqualified for the task of translation. They had no qualifications to function as critical Bible translators. Their names are: Frederick Franz, Nathan Knorr, Albert Schroeder, Milton Henschel and George Gangas. None of them hold degrees in the biblical languages! And except for Franz, none of them knew biblical Greek or Hebrew. Further, Franz’s biblical language abilities are open to serious question. In the Douglas Walsh Trial (just 4 years after the release of the Watchtower’s New Testament and during the translation of the Old Testament) he gave this testimony under oath (Pursuer’s Proof, pp7 &102-103):
Tuesday, 23rd November, 1954: Frederick Franz, Examined:
Q. Have you also made yourself familiar with Hebrew? A. Yes.
Q. So that you have a substantial linguistic apparatus at your command?
Q. Yes, for use in my biblical work.
Q. I think you are able to read and follow the Bible in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and French? A. Yes.
The following day, Franz’s claims were put to the test:
Wednesday, 24th November, 1954: Frederick Franz, Examined:
Q. You, yourself, read and speak Hebrew, do you? A. I do not speak Hebrew.
Q. You do not?
Q. Can you, yourself, translate that into Hebrew? A. Which?
Q. That fourth verse of the second chapter of Genesis? A. You mean here?
A. No, I won’t attempt to do that.
What Franz failed to do was a simple exercise which an average first or second year Hebrew student in any seminary would have no difficulty with. No wonder the Society refuses to publicly reveal the translators names. Would you put your trust in a doctor who refused to give his credentials? Yet this is what JWs do when it comes to vital Bible truths.
THE NEW WORLD TRANSLATION VS.
THE KINGDOM INTERLINEAR TRANSLATION
In 1969, the Watchtower produced The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, ” … a literal word-for-word translation into English under the Greek text as set out in ‘The New Testament in the Original Greek’ [Westcott and Hort] .”19
The purpose behind the publishing of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation…is to aid such seekers of truth and life. Its literal interlinear English translation is specially designed to open up to the student of the Sacred Scriptures what the original koine’ (common) Greek basically or literally says…. The word-for- word interlinear translation and the New World Translation are arranged in parallel on the page, so that comparisons can be made between the two readings. Thus, the accuracy of any modern translation can be determined.’
What follows is a comparison between the Kingdom Interlinear Translation (KIT) and the New World Translation (NWT):
Col 2:9—KIT: “all the fullness of the divinity” dwells in Christ. NWT: “all the fullness of the divine quality” dwells in Christ.
Greek scholar Joseph Henry Thayer states that the Greek word used here “Theotes” literally means “deity, i.e. the state of being God, Godhead.”‘
Col 1:16-1 7—KIT: Christ created “all (things).” NWT: Christ created “all other things.”
The word other is inserted four times here in order to make this passage agree with their doctrine that Christ himself was created. (Yet see John 1:3 which says he created “all things.”)
Gal 2:20— KIT: Christ is living “in me.”
(2 Cor 13:5) NWT: Christ is living “in union with me.”
Phil 3:9— KIT: “be found in him.”
NWT: “be found in union with him.”
To be found “in Christ” means that one is trusting in Christ alone for his righteousness and is therefore positionally “in Christ.” Thus, when God looks at this person who is “in Christ,” he sees the very righteousness of Christ.
Phil 2:9—KIT: God gave Christ the name “over every name.” NWT: God gave Christ the name “above every other name.”
JWs teach that Jehovah has the name above every name, so they insert other. Yet John 17:11 says Jesus has Jehovah’s name!
Acts 10:36—KIT: “Jesus Christ: this is of all (them) Lord.” NWT: “Jesus Christ: this One is Lord of all others.”
JWs teach that Jehovah is Lord of all, so in order to keep Jesus in his place and Jehovah as supreme, they insert others.
2 Peter 1:1—KIT: “the God of us and of Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:11—KIT: “the Lord of us and of Savior Jesus Christ.”
(v 1)—NWT: “our God and the Savior Jesus Christ.”
(v 11)—NWT: “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
The apostle uses the exact same Greek phrase in both of these verses with the exception of just one word: Theos (God) (vi) and Kurios (Lord) (vii). So Peter declares Jesus not only to be “Lord and Savior,” but also “God and Savior.” The Society doesn’t mind Jesus being “Lord and Savior” (vii), but when it comes to “God and Savior” (vi), they have to insert the word “the” for it to appear that Peter is referring to two persons.
Titus 2:13—KIT: “the great God and of Savior of us.. Jesus.” NWT: “the great God and of the Savior of us.. Jesus.”
Again, the Society inserts the word the before Savior so that it appears that Paul is referring to two persons: God and Jesus.
John 1:1—KIT: “god was the Word.” NWT: “the Word was a god.”
The Society claims that the Greek word for God Theos, when it appears without the definite article (“the”), must be translated “a god.” If this is so, then why do they render Theos in verses 6,12,13 & 18 as “God” (not “a god”) when the Greek word likewise appears without the definite article?
John 8:58—KIT: “Before Abraham to become Jam.”
NWT: “Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.”
The Greek words for “I am” (ego eirni) appear often in John’s Gospel. They are always translated “I am” in the NWT, except in this verse. Why? because Jesus is plainly identifying himself as the Eternal God, the Great “I AM” (see Exodus 3:14). The Watchtower translators had no other option with this verse— either they change their doctrine of Christ, or they conceal the truth. They chose the latter. They changed Jesus’ words from “I am” to “I have been.” One speaks of him as eternal and self-existent, while the other merely states that he existed before Abraham. Christ’s use of these words ego eirni constituted his claim to be eternal—to exist without a beginning—in contrast to Abraham, who had a beginning. Abraham was created and finite; Christ was uncreated and infinite.”
John 14:14—KIT: “If ever anything you should ask me…”
NWT: “If you ask anything…”
Because the Society believes that Jesus is not God, they teach that no one should pray to him—since prayer is a form of worship. But Jesus lets his followers know they can request things of him in prayer. The NWT omits the words “ask me.”
Acts 7:59—KIT: “Lord Jesus, receive the spirit of me.” Acts 7:60—KIT: “Lord, not you should make.. the sin…”
(v59)—NWT: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
(v60)—NWT: “Jehovah, do not charge this sin against them.”
Stephen here is most clearly praying to the Lord Jesus—the same “Kurios” in both verses! The only reason the Society didn’t insert “Jehovah” for Kurios in verse 59 is because it would read “Jehovah Jesus.” So they translated the first Kurios as “Lord” (v59) and the second Kurios as “Jehovah” (v60) to direct at least one of these prayers to Jehovah instead of Jesus.
Does the Society’s New World Translation pass the test of accuracy when measured by the Society’s Kingdom Interlinear Translation? By no means. This is why no recognized Greek scholar will endorse the NWT, but instead, along with Dr. Julius R. Mantey, Professor of Greek and New Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (Chicago), affirm that the Society’s translation is “a grossly misleading translation.’
THE WATCHTOWER PROPHET
The Watchtower has claimed for over 100 years to be God’s only living “prophet” on earth. They have stated that they are “The Prophet of God.” But their record proves otherwise:
1874: Christ came in the character of a Bridegroom in 1874.24 Surely there is not the slightest room for doubt in the mind of a truly consecrated child of God that the Lord Jesus is present and has been since 1874.25
1914: The “battle of the great day of God Almighty” (Rev 16:14) , which will end in AD 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced.26
1915: The “battle of the great day of God Almighty” (Rev 16:14) , which will end in AD 1915, with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced.”
1918: In the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions. 28
1925: 1925 shall mark the resurrection of the faithful worthies of old… based upon the promises set forth in the divine Word, we must reach the positive and indisputable conclusion that millions now living will never die.”
1940’s: It would therefore appear that there is no reasonable or Scriptural injunction to bring children into the world immediately before Armageddon, where we now are.”
1975: Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property and planning to finish out the rest of their days in this old system in the pioneer service. Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world’s end.”
This organization, since the first Watch Tower was published in 1879, has had a history of proclaiming the end of the world: 1914, 1915, 1918, 1925, 1940’s, 1975. You be the judge if this qualifies them as a “false prophet” according to God’s Word?
The prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak… must die.. when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true (Dent 18:20-22 NWT).
Then judge them by their own definition of “False Prophets”:
Individuals and organizations proclaiming messages that they attribute to a super human source but that do not originate with the true God and are not in harmony with his revealed will.’
Jesus also warns that in the last days, false prophets will arise and claim that he came back when he did not: “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets” (Matt 24:23-24). JWs presently believe that Jesus’ “presence” (second coming) began in 1914, and that he has been reigning “invisibly” in the heavens ever since. But that’s not always what they’ve taught. From the very first Watch Tower publication in 1879 all the way to 1943-more than 60 years!-they falsely proclaimed that Christ’s “invisible presence” began in 1874.
A clearer understanding of biblical chronology [pointing to 1914] was published in 1943. did away with the year 1874 C.E. as the date of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.’
Under oath, at the Douglas Walsh Trial, Hayden Covington (former vice president of the Watchtower Society) gave this testimony concerning the 1874 date (Pursuer’s Proof, pp 346-344: A. That was the publication of a false prophesy, it was a false statement or an erroneous statement in fulfillment of a prophesy that was false or erroneous.
Q. If a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses took the view himself that the prophesy was wrong and said so, he would be disfellowshipped?
A. Yes…. Our purpose is to have unity.
Q. Unity based upon an enforced acceptance of afalse prophecy? A. That is conceded to be true.
Why would Jehovah appoint a false prophet to be his representative to mankind, especially since Jesus warned his followers not to follow prophets who would falsely prophesy his return?-“Many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many” (Matt 24:11). He told us to beware of those who say “THE TIME IS AT HAND” (Luke 21:8 NASV). How fitting a warning from our Lord himself against the organization founded by Russell who specifically entitled a book, “THE TIME IS AT HAND.”35
In that famous Watchtower (April!, 1972) where the Society sings its own praises about being God’s only true prophet, they say, “Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a ‘prophet’ of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way this can be done is to review the record” (p197). Well, we’ve done just that-review the record-and the final verdict is…
“True, there have been those in times past who
predicted an “end” to the world, even announcing a
specific date. Yet nothing happened. The “end” did not
come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why?
What was missing? Missing from such people were
God’s truths and the evidence that he was using and
guiding them.” -Awake! magazine (Oct 8, 1968, p23)
For by your own words you will be justified, and by your
own words you will be condemned” -Matthew 12:37
(1) Watchtower (WT), Nov 15, 1981, p21 (2) WT, Sept 15, 1981, pp 25,29,30 (3) The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life, 1968, p 12 (4) Jehovah’s Witnesses: Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom (Proclaimers), 1993, pp 45,46(51 Studies in the Scriptures, vol 1-7 (6) Proclaimers, p200 (7) WT, April 15, 1904, p125; Studies, vol 1, 1925 ed. Biography, p7; 1975 Yearbook p88 (8) WT, Dec 1, 1894, p384; Sept 15, 1895, p216 (9) WT, Dec 1881, pp 2,3 (Reprints p301) (10) WT, Nov 1881, p 10 (Reprints p298) (111 Studies, vol 5, 1899, 1916 ed., p85; WT, Nov 1879, p4 (Reprints p48); Studies, vol 1, 1891, p 178 (12) Proclaimers, p201; WT, Nov 15, 1907, p 351; WT, Dec 1, 1904, p364 (13) WT, July 1, 1898, p204; WT, Aug 1, 1898, p 231 (141 WT, Oct 1, 1900, p 296; WT, July 15, 1902, p 216 (15) WT, Mar 15, 1913, p 84; Pennsylvania Superior Court Reports, vol 37, p 351 (16) Studies, vol 3, p 327 (17J Proclaimers, p201; Studies, vol 4, 1897, pp 621,622 (18) NWT, 1984, p5 (19) KIT, title page, 1969 (20) KIT, 1985, p5 (21) The New Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament, 1974, p 288 (22) For a more indepth discussion of John 1:1 & John 8:58 see our tract entitled Jehovah’s Witnesses & John’s Gospel (23) In the 1969 ed. of the Kingdom Interlinear, pp 1158-59, the Society misquoted Dana and Mantey’s A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament to try to support their translation of “a god” at John 1:1. In response, Dr. Mantey wrote a two page report entitled, “A Grossly Misleading Translation.” (24) WT, Oct 1879, p 4 (25) WT, Jan 1, 1924, p5 (26) Studies, vol 2, 1889, p 101 (27) Ibid., 1917 ed., p 101(281 Studies, vol 7, 1917, p485 (29) Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, pp 89,90,97 (30) WT, Nov 1, 1938, p324; WT, Sept 15, 1941, p288 (31) Kingdom Ministry, May 1974, p3 (32) Reasoning from the Scriptures, 1985, 1989, p 132 (33) Proclaimets, 1993, pp 133,134; Prophecy, 1929, p65 (34) God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached, p209 (35) Studies, vol 2
SALVATION IN CHRIST
Why did Christ come into the world? He came because of our sin problem-we do things that displease God. But why are we sinful? because Adam sinned-he disobeyed God’s will-and as a result we are born sinners, and experience the wages of sin, death and eternal condemnation (Gen 3:1-19; Rom 5:12; 3:23; John 3:18).
Because of our sinfulness, we’re separated from a holy God who cannot allow sinners into his presence. Jesus came and never sinned; he always pleased his heavenly Father; and he gave his life a sacrifice for sin. Being both God and man he could come between a holy God and sinful men (1 Tim 2:5). His blood provided an atonement, a covering, so that we could be pardoned.
The third day after his death on the cross, Jesus was raised from the dead and glorified. After appearing to many witnesses, he ascended to the right hand of the Father to make intercession for his people (Acts 1:9; Rom 8:34). He will come again gloriously to receive his own unto himself and to judge with everlasting punishment those who have not obeyed the gospel (2 Thess 1:7-10).
After his resurrection, Jesus said that repentance from sin and forgiveness of sin must be preached to all nations (Luke 24:47). Whenever men look to Jesus by faith for the forgiveness of sins, they also repent of their sins. Repentance means that a man has godly sorrow for his sins and turns from evil in order to live a righteous life (2 Cor 7:1; 1 Thess 1:9-10).
All who stop trusting in their own “works” to make themselves right with God, that is, anything they can do or perform, and look by faith to Jesus Christ as their Substitute, they are accepted of God. God doesn’t see the sins of those who believe in Christ, but sees the perfect life and work of his Son (Rom 3:22; 5:18,19). The Bible calls this “justification”-God accepting sinful people on the basis of Christ’s finished work (Rom 4:1-8).
Jesus spoke of a man who was convicted of his sins. He did not compare himself to others. He knew his best efforts could not satisfy God’s demands. Instead, he beat upon his breast, and said, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified” (Luke 18:13-14).
In order to stand before God we must be holy. Since we are all unholy in his sight (Isaiah 64:6; Rom 3:23), we must look outside of ourselves to Jesus alone who is holy and perfect. We will all stand before God’s judgment some day. We will either stand there in our sins and be condemned, or stand before him clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9).
We tend to think that God will accept us because of something we do, perhaps our good deeds outweighing our bad deeds. But it’s only what Christ did that God accepts, and those who are “in Christ.” We can only come to God through his Son. Have you ceased from your own works and rested your soul in the work of Christ-trusting his life, death, burial and resurrection alone for your salvation? May the Holy Spirit bring you to cry out, “God be merciful to me the sinner, for Christ’s sake.”