Jehovah’s Witness History, Beliefs and Practices

Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall

WHO ARE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES? – Their History, Beliefs and Practices


1.  History of The Watchtower Organization:

  • 1852 Founder Charles Taze Russell was born
  • 1870’s Russell studied the doctrines of Second Adventists: George Storrs, Jonas Wendell, George Stetson and Nelson Barbour
  • 1879: Russell began publishing Zion’s Watchtower And Herald of Christ’s Presence (Precursor to The Watchtower magazine)
  • 1881: Main Legal Entity Founded – Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
  • 1909: Headquarters Moved to Brooklyn, New York – Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
  • 1916: Charles Taze Russell died
  • 1917-1942: Second Watchtower President “Judge” Joseph F. Rutherford
  • 1931: The name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” adopted
  • 1942-1977: Third Watchtower President Nathan H. Knorr
  • 1978-1992: Fourth Watchtower President: Frederick W. Franz
  • 1992-2000: Fifth Watchtower President: Milton George Henschel
  • 2000: Change in Organizational Structure:
    • Three Corporations Formed: Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Religious Order of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Kingdom Support Services
    • Watchtower “Governing Body” relinquished control of the organization to the Board of Directors, under Don A. Adam

2. Jehovah’s Witness Statistics in 2004:

  •  6 Million active Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • 1.2 Billion hours spent annually in door-to-door proselytizing
  • The Watchtower and Awake! magazines distributed in over 230 countries
  • 6 Million “Bible Studies” (one-on-one Watchtower indoctrination lessons) conducted with potential converts
  • 98 Thousand Congregations

3. Adventist Theology Adopted in Jehovah’s Witness Literature:

  • Christ’s Invisible Presence occurred in 1874, date was later changed to 1914
  • Investigative Judgment = Christ’s Inspection of Spiritual Food from 1874-1878, later changed to 1914-1919
  • Conditional Mortality, Soul Sleep = Soul does not survive death, Resurrection of only the worthy, No Hell
  • Restoration of Paradise Earth

4. False Prophetic Dates:

  • 1874: Date for Christ’s “invisible presence,” changed to 1914
  • 1914: End of the world
  • 1915: Replaced 1914 for the end of the world
  • 1918: End of the world, the destruction of churches
  • 1925: End of the world with the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
  • 1929: “Beth Sarim” House of Princes built in San Diego, deeded to king David and other biblical prophets for their “soon” return upon the earth
  • 1940s: End of the World would come with the “soon” battle of Armageddon
  • 1975: six thousand years of human history, the end of the world would come within “months, not years.”
  • 1994: eighty-year Generation of 1914 should bring the end of the world, 1995 redefined the word “generation” to be symbolic of general readiness for the end.

5. Controversial Practices

  • No holiday or birthday celebrations
  • No participation in flag salutes, voting, politics or war activities
  • No blood transfusions
  • Limited higher education
  • Limited contact with non-Jehovah’s Witness friends and family
  • Shunning of former Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Forbidding critical thinking and disagreement
  • Forbidding literature critical of the group
  • Forbidding non-Jehovah’s Witness religious broadcasting and church attendance
  • Mandatory door-to-door proselytizing

6. Jehovah’s Witness Bible – New World Translation

  • Translators had insufficient knowledge of biblical manuscripts
  • Translation distorts the Deity of Christ at John 1:1; 8:58; Hebrews 1:8 and other passages to support Watchtower doctrine
  • Inserts God Name “Jehovah” into the New Testament without manuscript support

7. Jehovah’s Witness VS Christian Doctrine Comparison Chart



The Father alone is the only true God “Jehovah.” Jehovah God is Father, Son, Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19; Isaiah 48:16; Zechariah 2:8-11; 11:13; 12:10; 2 Samuel 23:2-3; John 1:1-3; 20:28; Hebrews 1:8)
Jesus is the created Archangel “Michael.” Jesus is not created. He is Almighty God. (Isaiah 9:6; Hebrews 7:3; Isaiah 44:24, c.f. John 1:3; Isaiah 48:12, c.f. Revelation 1:7-8, 17,18; 2:8; 22:12-13, 20)
Jehovah raised Jesus from the dead in an angel “spirit body,” devoid of His human body. Jesus raised His physical body from the dead, fully human and fully God. (Luke 24:39; John 2:18-22; 10:17-18; Acts 17:31; Philippians 2:5-11)
God’s “holy spirit” is an impersonal force. The Holy Spirit who is God is also a Person. (Romans 8:27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11; Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 3:17)
Only a special group of 144,000 people interpret Scripture. All believers are free to interpret Scripture by the leading of God’s Spirit. (John 16:13; 1 John 2:27)
Salvation is found through faith in Jehovah, Jesus and performance in the Watchtower organization. Salvation is in Jesus alone. (John 5:39-40; 10:28-29; 14:6; Acts 4:12)
Jesus is not the mediator for all mankind, but only for 144,000 people. Jesus is the mediator for all who place their faith in Him. (1 Timothy 2:5-6)
Heaven and the born-again experience is only for 144,000 Christians who lived from 33 A.D. – 1935 A.D. All believers are born-again and enjoy eternal life in Heaven. (John 3:3-7; 1:12; 1 John 5:1; Revelation 7:9-15; 19:1)
Survivors of Armageddon will rebuild the earth to make it into a Paradise during Christ’s thousand-year reign. After the thousand-year reign of Christ, God will completely destroy this present universe and recreate the new heavens and the new earth. (2 Peter 3:7, 10-13; Revelation 21:1-2)
All Old Testament believers and Christians who are not in the 144,000 group will live on earth eternally. All believers will be able to live in both Heaven and Earth and be able to go back and forth between both places like Jesus did in His resurrected body. (Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28-29; Hebrews 11:13-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; Acts 1:11; 1 John 3:2)
The human soul ceases to exist at death. The human soul survives death into eternity. (Matthew 10:28; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23-24; Revelation 6:9-11)
Hell does not exist as a place of torment, but is symbolic of the common grave. Hell is eternal punishment. (Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:43, 47-49; Luke 16:22-29; Revelation 14:9-11; 20:13-15; 21:8)
Christians avoid being involved in war, voting and political activities Christians bring a “salt and light” influence into every aspect of culture, including war and politics. (Matthew 5:13-16; 8:5-13; Acts 10; Romans 16:23; Ecclesiastes 3:8)
Blood transfusions violate God’s law against “eating” blood so they must be avoided. Blood transfusions replenish the current blood supply and do not metabolize as food does in the act of “eating.” Thus, they are acceptable for Christians as they do not violate God’s law on blood.
Jesus died on an upright torture stake and not a cross. The cross is shunned as a “pagan” symbol. Jesus did not die on an upright stake, but on the cross.  The cross is viewed as a symbol of spiritual life in Christ. (John 20:25; Matthew 27:37; 1 Corinthians 1:18)
All religious and non-religious holidays and birthday celebrations are banned, except for the celebration of the memorial of Jesus’ death. Christians are free to choose whether or not to celebrate holidays (Romans 14:5-6; Colossians 2:16); Jesus celebrated Hanukah (John 10:22-23); Job’s sons celebrated their birthdays.  (Job 1:4)


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