DO THE BELIEFS OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES PROVE THEY ARE THE ONLY TRUE RELIGION? – 10 Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses on How to Determine the True Religion
A common tactic used by those who oppose the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses is to present photocopied documentation from Watchtower literature that demonstrates how the Watchtower Society has changed its beliefs and practices over the years. Examples of these changes that are often discussed are given on pages 200-201 of the Watchtower Society’s 1993 history book entitled Jehovah’s Witnesses — Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom. On these pages, the Watchtower Society admits that in the 1920’s Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrated the holidays, including Christmas and birthdays, wore a cross and crown as a badge of identification and even used the cross as a symbol on the front cover of the “Watch Tower” from 1891 to 1931.
On page 201, the Watchtower Society admits that until 1928, Jehovah’s Witnesses advocated the teachings of their founder, Charles T. Russell, who believed that the Great Egyptian Pyramid of Gizeh was “God’s stone witness” and that this teaching contributed to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ view of the “Biblical time periods” prior to 1928. On pages 47-48 of the Watchtower’s Proclaimers book, the Society acknowledges that Jehovah’s Witnesses followed Russell’s conviction that “Christ’s invisible presence had begun in 1874” by distributing Russell’s Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence as early as 1879. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses now proclaim that Christ’s presence began in 1914 instead of 1874, on page 135, the Society admits that Jehovah’s Witnesses proclaimed that the rule of world governments would completely end in 1914, but readjusted their thinking when their expectations failed to teach what they currently believe that the 1914 date only marked the beginning of Jesus’ “Kingdom rule” (that is, His presence), rather than the annihilation of human institutions.
On pages 163, 76, and 78, the Watchtower Society even admits to their 1925 prophetic failure when they discuss how Jehovah’s Witnesses distributed the Millions Now Living Will Never Die booklet that stated: “that 1925 will mark the return [from the dead] of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old …to the condition of human perfection” and they show a picture of the “House of the Princes” (Beth-Sarim) built in San Diego in the 1920’s for the anticipated return of these faithful men of old.
Finally, the Society admits to their 1975 failed prophecy on page 633 by excusing away this date as a mere “disappointment” or wrong expectation based upon faulty time calculations. They claim that the false expectations surrounding this date and others resulted in a testing and “sifting” out of those in the Watchtower organization who were not firmly committed to Jehovah and His Word. Thus, Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to attribute all of these changes in end time chronology, doctrine and practices as mere human imperfections that Jehovah God allowed into His organization to purify (test) the devotion of His followers.
WHY A PRESENTATION OF THE SOCIETY’S DOCTRINAL CHANGES MAY NOT DISPROVE THE SOCIETY’S “TRUTH” CLAIMS:
In addition to believing that Jehovah God refines and purifies His organization by testing the devotion of His followers through the allowance of human imperfections and wrong expectations being promoted within the organization, Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to turn to Proverbs 4:18 for support of their changing views of “truth”. This passage in their New World Translation Bible reads:
“But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.”
Since this verse proclaims that the path of righteous people becomes “lighter and lighter,” Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the fact that they have received “new light” on their doctrines over the years instead of staying firm to old erroneous practices, this is evidence that they are led by Jehovah God. So, when a person questions how an organization that claims to be “the truth” can change over time when truth itself does not change, Jehovah’s Witnesses answer by agreeing that truth doesn’t change, but that it is merely their human understanding of the truth that changes based upon the light getting brighter concept.
Thus, most Jehovah’s Witnesses today are inoculated against concerns over these issues. When challenged about how they can be sure that what they teach now is “the truth” when their concept of “truth” may change in the future, most remain unconcerned because they believe that Jehovah God will continue to purify and refine His organization as He deems appropriate over time. Thus, they believe that they will be judged by Jehovah God (not for embracing true doctrine in all respects), but for their loyally in following Jehovah God’s “channel of communication” (His organization) in spite of any human imperfections or “unrefined” doctrines one may find. Thus, they will tell you that what matters most to them is NOT what the Society taught years ago, but rather, what it teaches currently and whether the Watchtower organization stands out from all the other religions of the world as having the most correct doctrine of any religion at this time.
QUESTIONS TO ASK ON HOW JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES DETERMINE THE TRUE RELIGION
1. Do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that there is only “one” true religion?
“Jesus started one true Christian religion. So today there must be just one body, or group, of true worshipers of Jehovah God.”—What Does God Require of Us?, p. 26
2. What criteria do Jehovah’s Witnesses use to identify this “one” true religion?
“How can we identify true Christians? The most outstanding mark of true Christians is that they have real love among themselves. …they do not share in wars. …Another mark of true religion is that its members have a deep respect for the Bible. The true religion must also honor God’s name. …True Christians must preach about God’s Kingdom. …Jesus’ disciples must be no part of this wicked world. (John 17:16) They do not get involved in the world’s political affairs and social controversies. …Can you identify a religious group in your community that has these marks of true Christianity?” —What Does God Require of Us?, p. 26-27
- NOTE: When a Jehovah’s Witness is asked what criteria he uses to determine that his religion is “the truth” most will list the criteria quoted above and some may also add addition items such as the denial of the Trinity doctrine, hell, and the immortality of the human soul, along with the idea that they are “separate” from the world by not celebrating holidays. Make note of this list of criteria and then ask the following questions:
ASSEMBLY OF YHWHHOSHUA:
“The various churches in the United States in one form or another are in, the state of disobedience to the laws of YHWH. So we can not partake in these unrighteous churches. …The true revealed Name of the Almighty is YHWH …It is quite clear from these passages that His NAME is not to be changed. In the King James (KJV) and other versions of the bible; translators have mistranslated the Divine Name, YHWH, into the word ‘LORD’; and ‘GOD’ instead of ‘ELOHIM’, the Hebrew title for the Supreme Being. In their former languages, the title ‘LORD’ is ‘BAAL’, which is the supreme idol of heathen Babylon. ‘ADONIS’, ‘ADONAI’, or ‘ADON’ are the Phoenician and Greek idol of beauty from whence comes the name ‘JEHOVAH’. …The members of the assembly of YHWHHOSHUA are to be separate from institutions, customs, traditions, styles and carnal pleasures of the United States as well as the world. A member in no way should participate into the affairs and practices of the world. …Thus a servant of YHWH can not vote or contribute to or accept any benefits from the institutes of the United States …nor should he be allowed to be a government official, to be a juror, or to serve in the Armed Forces. …Christmas …and any other heathen holiday are not celebrated in this assembly because of the inherent revelry contained in such celebration, as in the pagan names and sources that they represent.” —Encyclopedia of American Religions, vol 2, pp. 398-400
- NOTE: When quoting the teachings of the Assembly of YHWHHOSHUA in regard to God’s sacred name, it is important to point out how careful they are to accurately represent the true form of God’s name, going back to its root Hebrew characters (הוהYי YHWH) rather than relying on some altered form of God’s name, such as the form of “Jehovah” found in the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witness Bible. Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, this group also proclaims that the titles of “Lord” and “God” that have been substituted in many modern versions of the Bible distort the proclamation of God’s name. However, they go a step further in denouncing any corruption of God’s name by proclaiming that even the form of “Jehovah” used by Jehovah’s Witnesses is derived from the “Phoenician and Greek idol of beauty”. Thus, with this information, you can challenge Jehovah’s Witnesses with the idea that they are not as pure in proclaiming God’s name as this group seems to be.
ASSEMBLIES OF THE CALLED OUT ONES OF YAH:
“The assemblies follow the main ideas of the Sacred Name Movement and are very clear in their rejection of both the Trinitarian position and the ‘Oneness’ or ‘Jesus Only’ position of some Pentecostals. …Members of the assemblies refrain from military duty but will accept alternative humanitarian government service. …According to the assemblies, the Called Out Ones of Yah consists of the great multitude (which no one can number) from all nations being called out by Yah from all Babylonish religions to serve with Yeshuah in the coming kingdom.” —Encyclopedia of American Religions,5th Edition, by J. Gordon Melton, (Gale Group, 1996), p. 528
ASSEMBLIES OF YAHWEH:
“The Assemblies also publishes its own version of the Sacred Scriptures. …The Assemblies teaches the necessity of believers’ affirming the divine names Yahweh and Yahshua …A non-Trinitarian position is maintained. …Nonviolence and conscientious objection to war are stressed. The Assemblies of Yahweh is headed by the directing elder as the earthly shepherd under the Savior, Yahshua the Messiah. …Affiliated assemblies are located in 50 countries around the world. The missionary thrust, both foreign and domestic, is concentrated through the Sacred name Broadcast, heard over 24 stations across the United States (as of 1995) and in 75 foreign countries. …Affiliated members are found in 115 countries.” —Encyclopedia of American Religions,5th Edition, by J. Gordon Melton, (Gale Group, 1996), p. 529
- NOTE: The importance of listing the international data on this group is to prove that this religion has an international following. Thus, they are not some type of obscure group who are not preaching the Kingdom worldwide. While this particular group does not go door-to-door, neither did the Biblical apostle Paul go door to door in all of the cities he preached in. As an example, you can show Acts 17:1-4, 16-34 where Paul limited his preaching to the synagogue and public market places found in the cities of Thessalonica and Athens. Thus, having a worldwide “Sacred name Broadcast” can effectively accomplish the same task of internationally preaching the Kingdom as the door-to-door method of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
HOUSE OF YAHWEH (Abilene, Texas and Odessa, Texas):
“The House of Yahweh carries on an active publishing program that includes a monthly magazine, a number of booklets on various doctrinal subjects, and a new holy name version of the Holy Scriptures, The Book of Yahweh. …holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and Sunday as a day of worship are condemned as pagan and un-Biblical. Yahshua was born in the spring (around Passover), not in December.” —Encyclopedia of American Religions, 5th Edition, by J. Gordon Melton, (Gale Group, 1996), p. 531
“Christadelphians reject the Trinity. They believe in one supreme God… in eternal punishment of the wicked, but not in eternal torment; in hell, not as a place of torment, but as the grave; in the resurrection of the just and unjust; in the utter annihilation of the wicked… in a second coming of Christ to establish his kingdom on earth, which is to be fitted for the everlasting abode of the saints…” —The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1967) vol III, p. 38
“Christadelphians take no part in politics, voting, or military service.” —The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions,John Bowker, ed (Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 216
4. How can the Jehovah’s Witnesses qualify to be the only true religion that Jehovah God approves of today if their criteria for determining “the truth” is not unique to them alone? Since this criteria can be found in other religions, doesn’t this prove that the Jehovah’s Witness religion is not the “only” true religion on earth today?
- NOTE: Some Jehovah’s Witnesses may argue that since they have never heard of these religious groups, the worldwide preaching of these groups must be too small to have Jehovah’s approval. If they argue this, simply ask:
Since when has Jehovah God looked at the size of a group to determine its worthiness to represent Him? Didn’t Jesus say at Matthew 7:13-14: “Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.”—New World Translation?
Although Jehovah had appointed the nation of Israel to represent Him at one point in human history, Jesus and His small group of disciples replaced Jehovah’s first channel when Israel became unfaithful. So, how do we know that the Watchtower Society hasn’t become unfaithful and has been replace by a smaller religious group like one of these?
- NOTE: Another objection one might face is the idea that some of these groups embrace additional doctrines that Jehovah’s Witnesses feel are not accurate. For example, the Christadelphians teach Satan is not a person and some (though not all) of the Sacred Name movements listed above take their separateness from the world to a higher level than the Jehovah’s Witnesses by refusing to pay income tax. If these objections arise, simply remind the Jehovah’s Witness that Jehovah is always in the process of “refining” His people and that if He has appointed one of these groups to replace the Jehovah’s Witness religion, one should expect that with “patience” these doctrinal errors will be “refined” with “new light” over time. The Jehovah’s Witness will certainly see your point as he or she has been trained to use this argument to excuse away any doctrinal errors that can be found in the history of the Watchtower organization.
5. Does the Watchtower Society claim that Jesus appointed its organization at the start of His presence between 1914-1919 to dispense spiritual food to His followers?
“TIME OF INSPECTION BY THE SLAVE’S MASTER …All the facts of the case argue that the Master came for the work of inspection at the time… Could they, by even their latest record down till 1919, prove that they themselves were the composite ‘faithful and discreet slave’ class of the heavenly Lord and Master, Jesus Christ? …Down to 1919 C.E. they had endeavored to give ‘food at the proper time’ to the ‘household of faith’ …Not only was the regularity in serving the spiritual food a problem, but the quality of the food itself was to be considered. In this respect the body of hated, persecuted Christians, who always sought to be faithful slaves of Jesus Christ, met the test.” —God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached,1973, pp. 349-350
6. At Matthew 24:23-24, Jesus warned His followers that false prophets would proclaim His presence had begun when it had not. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses falsely proclaimed 1874 as the date of Christ’s presence for 50 years (1879-1929), how could Jesus have anointed a religious group to represent Jehovah God that was doing the VERY thing He warned His followers against?
“Russell also came to be persuaded that Christ’s invisible presence had begun in 1874. Attention was later drawn to this by the subtitle ‘Herald of Christ’s Presence,’ which appeared on the cover of Zion’s Watch Tower.” —Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom,1993, pp. 133-134
“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.” —The Watch Tower,January 1, 1924, p. 5
“The Scriptural proof is that the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ began in 1874 A.D.” —Prophecy,1929, p. 65
7. Not only were Jehovah’s Witnesses violating Jesus’ command against falsely prophesying His presence during the time of His alleged “inspection” of them, they did NOT follow the “truth” criteria that Jehovah’s Witnesses today say is the proof that they are the true religion. Would Jesus have appointed a group that violated these principles by celebrating holidays, participating in the US war effort, distorting the identity of Michael the archangel, and proclaiming that Russell was to be worshipped as the “faithful slave” of Matthew 24:45?
“…since the celebration of our Lord’s birth is not a matter of divine appointment or injunction, but merely a tribute of respect to him, it is not necessary for us to quibble particularly about the date. We may as well join with the civilized world in celebrating the grand event on the day which the majority celebrate—‘Christmas day.’ ” —Zion’s Watch Tower, December 1, 1904, pp. 363-365 [Reprints p. 3468]
“This Christmas celebration at Brooklyn Bethel in 1926 was their last.” —Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom,1993, p. 200
PARTICIPATED IN THE WAR EFFORT:
“There could be nothing against our consciences in going into the army. Wherever we would go we could take the Lord with us, the Captain of our salvation, and wherever we would go we could find opportunities to serve him and his cause.” —Zion’s Watch Tower, April 15, 1903, pp. 120-121 [Reprints, p. 3180]
“A Christian, unwilling to kill, may have been conscientiously unable to buy government bonds; later he …realizes that the nation is in trouble and facing dangers to its liberty, and he feels himself conscientiously able to lend some money to the country, just as he would lend to a friend in distress.”—Zion’s Watch Tower, June 1, 1918, pp. 168-169 [Reprints, p. 6268]
“…He found the remnant in need of refining and cleansing. For example, The Watch Tower had encouraged its readers to set aside May 30, 1918, as a day of prayer for victory for the democratic powers …This amounted to a violation of Christian neutrality.”—The Watchtower, June 15, 1987, p. 15
“For a relatively brief span during the World War 1 Period, the remnant of spiritual Israel had not kept entirely clean and aligned with God’s will. Some of them were spotted with doctrinal errors and compromised by not taking a clear stand for Jehovah when put under pressure to support the warring nations.”—The Watchtower,February 15, 1996, p. 14
CLAIMED MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL IS NOT JESUS BUT RATHER THE POPE:
“Hence it is said, ‘Let all the angels of God worship him’; [that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence Michael is not the Son of God] and the reason is, because he has ‘by inheritance obtained a more excellent Name than they.’ ”—Zion’s Watch Tower, November 1879, p. 4 [Reprints, p. 48]
“12:7. And there was war in heaven.—Between the two ecclesiastical powers, Pagan Rome and Pepal Rome. Michael.— ‘Who as God,’ the Pope.—B275; C62. And his angels.—The Bishops.” —The Finished Mystery,1917, p. 188
ADVOCATED “CREATURE WORSHIP” OF CHARLES T. RUSSELL:
“With the passing of time, however, the idea adopted by many was that C.T. Russell himself was the ‘faithful and wise servant.’ This led some into the snare of creature worship.” —1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 88
“…the earthly creature made prominent therein above all others is the messenger of the Laodicean Church—‘that wise and faithful servant’ of the Lord—CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL.” —The Finished Mystery, 1917, p. 5
“Charles Taze Russell, thou hast, by the Lord, been crowned a king; and through the everlasting ages they name shall be known amongst the people, and thy enemies shall come and worship at thy feet.”—The Watch Tower, December 1, 1916, p. 377
“Many who were sifted out at the time clung to the view that a single individual, Charles Taze Russell, was the ‘faithful and wise servant’ foretold by Jesus at Matthew 24:45-47 (KJ)… Particularly following his death, The Watch Tower itself set forth this view for a number of years.” —Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom,1993, p. 626
8. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses were guilty of false worship in many areas, how could they have fulfilled the qualifications to be appointed as the “faithful slave” during Jesus’ alleged “inspection” of them in 1919?
- NOTE: Several objections to this argument may be raised at this point. They are as follows: 1) Some may claim that Jehovah’s Witnesses were the most correct of all the religions that existed when they were founded in 1879. 2) Some would argue that Jesus said His followers would be persecuted, so the fact Jehovah’s Witnesses have been persecuted proves they are the truth. 3) They may point to the strong growth of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the world to try to prove they are the only true religion. These objections can be answered with the following documentation:
OTHER RELIGIONS OF THE 1800’S THAT STILL EXIST TODAY TAUGHT THE SAME DOCTRINES THAT JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES TAUGHT IN 1919:
“Advent Christians: The organization under this name dates from 1861… They believe that through sin man forfeited immortality and that only through faith in Christ can any live forever; that death is a condition of unconsciousness for all persons until the resurrection at Christ’s second coming, when the righteous will enter an endless life upon the earth, and the rest will suffer complete extinction of being…” —The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1967) vol. I, p. 56
“Christadelphians…originated in the United States about 1850. … Christadelphians reject the Trinity. They believe in one supreme God… in eternal punishment of the wicked, but not in eternal torment; in hell, not as a place of torment, but as the grave; in the resurrection of the just and unjust; in the utter annihilation of the wicked… in a second coming of Christ to establish his kingdom on earth, which is to be fitted for the everlasting abode of the saints…” —The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1967) vol III, p. 38
PERSECUTION AND GROWTH NUMBERS DO NOT PROVE A RELIGION TRUE:
“Open Doors reports that local authorities in three Mexican states have told evangelical Christians to change their religion or suffer severe consequences. Many of the religious conflicts in Mexico stem from evangelicals’ refusal to participate in town festivals…” —Mission Network News, June 4, 2001
“Evangelicals in Mexico presently number approximately 4.6 million, some 120,000 belonging to the Suffering Church. Chiapas, frequent arena for Zapatista rebellion and severe persecution of the Evangelical community… The most evident Evangelical persecution in Chiapas arises from the wealthy mafia-like local landlords and business owners known as Caciques. Self-proclaimed defenders of ancient indigenous pagan traditions, they have established their own laws by which to judge and sentence their own people for the ‘crimes’ of: Embracing Christianity as their religion… No longer participating in the pagan rituals…” —Open Doors International, Country Profiles: Mexico, June 4, 2001
“Nigeria is home to around 11 million people… The church numbers more than 50 million and growing. While there is freedom to evangelise, evangelists and churches have been the target of the Muslim community with many martyrs over the past 18 years. Between 1982 and 1996 alone some 600 Christians were killed and 200 churches burned. The Church will continue to grow. …Indonesia: …There are now 25 million Christians and it is said to be growing at the rate of 5% per annum. Riots are the order of the day and many Christians have been targeted. The Church is growing despite persecution.” —Open Doors International, Country Profiles, June 4, 2001
9. At Romans 8:8-9 and 14, what does the Bible say a person must possess in order to “please” God and “belong” to Christ?
“So those who are in harmony with the flesh cannot please God. However, YOU are in harmony, not with the flesh, but with the spirit, if God’s spirit truly dwells in YOU. But if anyone does not have Christ’s spirit, this one does not belong to him. …For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons.”—New World Translation
10. Since the doctrine of the Watchtower Society excludes most Jehovah’s Witnesses from spiritual adoption as sons of God, how can ANY Jehovah’s Witness “please” God, “belong” to Christ or be led by God’s Spirit? Can you find a single verse in the Bible that says that ONLY 144,000 are adopted into God’s spiritual family?
“God does not adopt them as spiritual sons, as he does the 144,000.” —The Watchtower, February 1, 1998, p. 20