Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Jehovah's Witnesses

Isaiah 43:10-12~Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.
12 I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.

Jehovah's Witnesses Best Known for...
~Refusal for Blood Transfusions
~Door-to-Door Missionaries
Leviticus 17:11-12~For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
12 Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.

~Legal and Corporate name is "The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society."

According to the JW website-in 2008...
~7.1 million members worldwide (236 lands)-1.1 million members in the United States.
~289,00 baptized worldwide-35,000 in United States
~Worldwide-1.4 billion hours "preaching" (door-to-door visitation)
~17 million people attend their Memorial Service (a JW unbiblical version of the Lord's Supper)

Watchtower Headquarters
~Located in Brooklyn, New York (Sometimes called "Bethel")
~Also owns extensive Real Estate in Brooklyn including large publishing house, apartment buildings, office space, "Kingdom Farm" factory, and "Gilead"-a Bible school.

Jehovah's Witnesses Publications
~Watchtower Magazine-17.8 million per month in 106 languages
~Awake Magazine-15.6 million per month in 34 languages

Jehovah's Witnesses Worship
~Groups meeting together are called congregations and their leaders are called Overseers or Elders.
~They worship in Kingdom Halls
~Each Kingdom Hall has five meetings a week
~They have "fieldwork" which is the door to door evangelism (1200 hours/year)
~Jehovah's Witnesses are also noted for large district and national conventions.

Some Famous Jehovah's Witnesses
~Serena and Venus Williams
~President Dwight Eisenhower
~Katherine Jackson
~Michael Jackson-renounced Jehovah's Witness after Thriller

Founder of Jehovah's Witnesses
~Charles Taze Russell 1852-1916
~Organized and taught a Bible class in Pittsburgh at age 18
~He rejected the doctrine of eternal torment (hell)
~In 1879, founded "The Herald of the Morning" which developed into today's "The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom" Magazine
~Wrote 7 books originally published as "The Millennial Dawn" now entitled "Studies in the Scriptures"
~"Pastor" Russell was never ordained but called himself "pastor"
~Moved headquarters from Pittsburgh to Brooklyn in 1908
~His wife separated from him in 1897, sued him for alimony resulting in bad press
~Russell apparently controlled the entire financial power of the Society and not accountable to any one (held $990 of the $1,000 capital)
~In 1886, published "The Divine Plan of the Ages"-projecting that Armageddon and Christ's millennial rule would occur in 1914. Also believed dimensions of the Great Pyramids in Egypt provided the clues to the end times.
~Russell denied-the Trinity, deity of Christ, the physical resurrection and return of Christ, eternal punishment, hell
~Died aboard a train traveling in Texas in 1916.

Judge Joseph F. Rutherford
~Became 2nd leader after power struggle following Russell's death. he led the watchtower Society from 1917-1942 (his death)
~Set up a theocratic organization-ruled from the top with himself being God's mouthpiece.
~Changed the name officially to "The Jehovah's Witnesses" in 1931
~Railed against "formal religion" with great vigor on radio, phonographs, and books.
~He wrote 100+ books and pamphlets.
~Predicted that Abraham and Old Testament prophets would rise from the dead in 1925-built Beth Sarim in San Diego to wait-later was his residence.

Other Watchtower Leaders
~Nathan Homer Knorr-Third President 1942-1977
~Frederick W. Frantz-Fourth President 1977-1992
~Milton G. Hentschel-Fifth President 1992-2000
~Don Adams-Sixth President 2000-Present

~Governing Body of 12 are "anointed" men who along with the President rule for life with absolute power.
~In 2000, Watchtower Society restructured significantly into a number of different corporations which restricts legal liability of the Watchtower Organization making it harder to gain large financial settlements.

The Watchtower Purpose
To declare the name of Jehovah and usher in the Kingdom Age of the Millennium and join Jehovah's forces who will triumph at Armageddon.

Their Source of Authority...The Watchtower Society
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that God set up the Watchtower Society as His visible representation on earth and people are unable to know the real meaning of Scripture without the society and its vast literature.
~Jehovah's Witnesses are expected to obey the Watchtower as the voice of God.
~"We must recognize not only Jehovah God as our Father, but his organization as our Mother." (from "Let God Be True")
~If a Jehovah's Witness disobeys the Watchtower's instructions, or leaves the Society, they are disfellowshipped and other Jehovah's Witnesses, including family, are forbidden to talk and associate with them.

Their Key Writings
The New World Translation of the Bible-Jehovah's Witnesses would say they believe both the New and Old Testament but only through their "version." The NWT changes some passages and words to fit the Watchtower theology.
~Both Russell and Rutherford wrote a number of books, but were not scholars.
~All current Watchtower publications, including,
~Reasoning from the Scriptures (published 1985)
~You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth (published/updated 1980's)
~"Watchtower" and "Awake" magazines

Jehovah's Witness Beliefs

About God
There is one God whose personal name is Jehovah (no Trinity)
~Jehovah is the English form of the Hebrew used in the Old Testament for God-YAHWEH. The Jews had such respect for the name of God that they did not spell it out-they only used the consonants. This is called the Hebrew Tetragrammaton-God's Holy name written in Hebrew. יהוה

~The New World Translation also applies the name Jehovah for God in the New Testament (237 times) even though it is not found in any original Greek manuscripts.
~God's true followers are identified by their use of "Jehovah" in their prayers, singing, Bible study, and preaching.
~If "Jehovah's name" is not invoked in prayer, Jehovah's Witnesses believe prayer goes to another "god."

Jesus Christ
~Believe Jesus is the first created and most perfect being by Jehovah and therefore subject to Jehovah. Colossians 1:15 "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature." Firstborn means highest in rank, not first created.
~ "In other words, he was the first and direct creation of Jehovah God." (The Kingdom is at Hand, 1944)
~John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." NWT translation says- "the Word was (a) god."
~The true Scriptures speak of God's Son, the Word, as a 'god'. He is a 'mighty god' but not Almighty God, who is Jehovah." (The Truth Shall Set You Free, 1943)
~Believe before he lived on earth, he was Michael the archangel and after he was on earth, he is now the exalted state of Michael.
~Jehovah made the universe through him.
~Believe Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and was a perfect human.
~"While on earth, Jesus was a human, although a perfect one. Because it was Jehovah who transferred the lie giving force of Jesus to the womb of Mary." ("Should you Believe in the Trinity?", Watchtower)
~Believe Jesus died on a stake, not a cross. (introduced by Rutherford in the mid-1930's)
~Believe he resurrected as a spirit only and his body destroyed by the disciples.
~Believe he will not return to earth in bodily form, but "returned" invisible in 1914 and very soon (1914, 1918, 1925, 1941, 1975) he will establish the Kingdom of Jehovah and destroy all non-Jehovah's Witnesses in Armageddon.

Holy Spirit
~Is not God, but rather an impersonal, invisible, active force from Jehovah.
~"The holy spirit is the invisible active force of Almighty God that moves his servants to do his will." (Let God Be True, pg 108)

The Trinity
Totally rejected (God is Jehovah, Jesus was created by Jehovah, holy spirit is a force) as polytheism (the worship of three gods).
~"The obvious conclusion is, therefore, that Satan is the originator of the Trinity doctrine." (Let God Be True, pg 100)

A material (not spiritual) creation of Jehovah.
~To Jehovah's Witnesses, the soul is the life-animating force that gives life to the material body and does not exist after death.
~Believe that man sinned and evil came about but Jehovah allowed humanity to rule itself to prove to Satan that his ways are better.
~When a person dies, the soul ceases to exist and his body ultimately deteriorates.

Jesus died as a "ransom sacrifice" to buy back what Adam lost: which was the right to perfect life on earth.
~"Jesus as the glorified High Priest, by presenting in heaven this redemption price, is in a position to relieve the believing ones of Adam's descendants from the inherited disability under which we are all born." (Let God Be True)
~Four requirements for salvation:
~Taking in knowledge of Jehovah God and having faith in Jesus Christ.
~Obeying God's laws and conforming to moral requirements of Bible.
~Belonging to and serving with God's one true channel and organization (the Watchtower
~Being loyal to God's organization.
~During 1,000 year reign, Jehovah's Witnesses have second opportunity for eternal life if they live and work toward perfection.

Heaven and Hell
Do not believe there is a hell. Hell is the grave "Those who have been taught by Christendom believe the God-dishonouring doctrine of a fiery hell for tormenting conscious human souls eternally." (Let God Be True)
~Faithful Jehovah's Witnesses hope to one day be recreated (resurrected) from Jehovah's memory after 1,000 year reign. They will inhabit one of the following.
~Heaven as the "anointed class or elite spiritual class"-who will live as spirits (they give up their right to a resurrected body) as they believe Jesus did after his "re-creation" or spirit resurrection.
~They believe only 144,00 will go to heaven (Revelations 7:4)
~Paradise (the earth) as the "large earthly class"-where they will have a body and life animating force (soul).
~Non-Jehovah's Witnesses or unfaithful Jehovah's Witnesses are annihilated (cease to exist).

End Times
~ Deuteronomy 18:20-22
~1914-Russell declared that Christ's "invisible presence" began in 1874 and He would end human government and restore paradise to earth by 1914
~1915, 1918-Shifted dates for the end of the World from Russell
~1925-Rutherford moved the date to 1925 and said how Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and other Old Testament prophets would return from the dead.
~1941-Predicted end of the world (Armageddon)-between 1940-1943, at least 44 predictions that Armageddon was imminent.
~1975-In Kingdom Ministry, May 1974, it was written that the world's end is "so very near" and Jehovah's Witnesses commended who sold their homes and property to "Devote themselves to full-time service in the short time before the wicked World's end in 1975."

Other Beliefs
~Do not believe in blood transfusions.
~Do not celebrate birthdays or holiday celebrations because they are of "pagan origin." They claim that Christ told them to only celebrate His death.
~They will observe the Annual Memorial Service (similar to communion) held once a year around in the spring but only the "anointed" are permitted to partake.
~Will not salute the flag or any other national symbol, engage in politics, or fight in war because they want no part of "this wicked world."
~Are permitted only to read Watchtower publications.

What Not to Do in Witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses
Don't bring up the Trinity or the Deity of Christ too soon. Jehovah's Witnesses have been taught to lathe the Trinity and they are trained to defend their beliefs. The Trinity and the Deity of Christ is generally one of the last Christian beliefs that an Ex-Jehovah's Witness comes to accept.
~Don't try to get them to agree with you. Your goal is to get the Jehovah's Witnesses to think for themselves.
~Don't preach at them or try to teach them. The Witness is there to teach, not to be taught. The moment they think you are trying to do any teaching they will leave and your opportunity to witness to them will leave with them. Witnesses have been taught that they are part of the only true religion on earth today and all other religions are from Satan. They will therefore view any information you have on the Bible to be coming from Satan.
~Don't be intimidated, for Jehovah's Witnesses don't know the Bible as well as you think. They will play "Bible hopscotch" and often misapplying Scriptures. Don't allow the witness to do this, reading a verse from one Bible book, then a verse from a different book, and so on, slow them down. Stop them long enough to establish the context of the verse.

Cults and False Religions, Part 1
Cults and False Religions, Part 2

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