A DOCTRINAL OVERVIEW OF THE WATCH TOWER

Jehovah’s Witness

“The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit corporation formed in 1884 under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, U.S.A.”[1]  It is under the structure of this corporation, as well as a number of affiliated legal entities, that the religious group known as “Jehovah’s Witnesses” carries out its worldwide work.  According to the group’s own claim, “Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, but they are not Protestants for the same reason that they are not Catholics—they recognize certain teachings of those religions as unscriptural.”[2] While Jehovah’s Witnesses are correct to identify Roman Catholicism and Protestant Christianity as different religions[3], they are incorrect to state that they themselves are Christians.  The Watch Tower[4] is actually a “pseudo-Christian cult”[5] that presents both a different Jesus and a different gospel than those which are presented in the Biblical text.  A doctrine-by-doctrine critique of Watch Tower religious beliefs demonstrates that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe and perpetrate a number of heresies (some of which predate the founding of the Jehovah’s Witness religion itself).  By understanding Jehovah’s Witness doctrines, Christians can be better prepared to refute the errors of the Watch Tower and share the true gospel of Jesus Christ with Jehovah’s Witnesses.[6]

The Watch Tower Doctrine of God

There is one “true and Almighty God”[7] who created the universe.  He is the God that was worshipped by (the biblical figures) Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. His name is Jehovah.  “God is Holy.”[8]  God loves justice and hates injustice; this does not change.

  Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of God

On the surface, the Watch Tower’s statement about God looks to be fair and accurate.  Older, respected English translations of the Old Testament do refer to God’s name as “Jehovah.”  However, “many authorities believe that Yahweh is closer to the original pronunciation”[9] of God’s name than is Jehovah, a term that would not be developed until well after biblical times when the Latin language came into use.  Yet, Jehovah’s Witnesses insist that God requires that his people refer to Him by “Jehovah” and consider the very name of their sect “as proof that theirs is the one true religion.”[10] The Bible does portray God as Holy (Isaiah 6:3), righteous, (Psalm 11:7) and unchanging (Malachi 3:6).  The Bible also portrays God as the God of the patriarchs and prophets.  However, it is not entirely accurate to refer to God as “the God of Jesus”.  Rather Jesus is God. (John 1:1).  When the New Testament portrays Jesus as praying, he is praying to “the Father,” one of the three members of the Trinitarian Godhead (Matthew 28:19).  Jesus Himself, the Son, is a member of this Trinity.  The other is the Holy Spirit.  Yet, according to the Watch Tower, God is not a trinity.  Their literature claims that “Satan is the origin of the doctrine that God is a Trinity”[11]  This is a blasphemous and unbiblical position.  “God is one and yet eternally exists in three persons.”[12]

The Watch Tower Doctrine of the Bible

The Bible is God’s inspired message to humans; it consists of 66 books, broken out between the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Some parts of the Bible should be understood figuratively.  The Bible is a “harmonious and accurate”[13] collection of documents which contains history, wisdom, and prophecy.

A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of the Bible

At a superficial level, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a proper view of scripture.  Even though the Jehovah’s Witnesses misidentify the Holy Spirit as a force, referring to him as an “it” rather than as a person, they recognize that the Bible is divinely inspired (2 Peter 1:21).  They also recognize that the Bible is a trustworthy collection of documents that should be understood in context.  Proper context, however, is determined by the Watch Tower itself.  In addition to believing that the Bible is inerrant and authoritative, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that “the Bible is an organizational book. . . . For this reason the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah’s visible organization in mind.”[14]  This idea is not taught in scripture itself.  The Watch Tower assigns Jehovah’s Witnesses thousands of pages of Watch Tower literature each year, compared with only hundreds of pages of Bible reading. “The majority of Witnesses (get) so bogged down by the three thousand pages of the Society’s literature that they never got around to doing the Bible reading.”[15]  Reading the Bible in context, and without Watch Tower prejudice, is an effective way for Jehovah’s Witnesses to begin doubting and eventually leave the Watch Tower.[16]

The Watch Tower Doctrine of Jesus

“Before Jesus was born, the Bible foretold of one whom God would send as the Messiah, or Christ.”[17] Jesus is that Messiah and he “enjoyed close association (with Jehovah) for billions of years –long before the starry heavens and earth were created.”[18]  The teachings and example of Jesus Christ are followed by Jehovah’s Witnesses.  He was born to Mary, a virgin.  He is both the Savior of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Son of God.  Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians (followers of Christ).  Jesus was arrested, accused by false witnesses, convicted by corrupt judges, laughed at by mobs, and tortured by soldiers.”[19]  He was nailed to a stake and after his death Jehovah “raised him back to spirit life.”[20]  There is no scriptural basis for the Trinity doctrine.  The Bible does not teach that Jesus is Almighty God.

A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of Jesus

The Watch Tower correctly asserts that the Old Testament promised a coming Messiah and that Jesus was him. (John 4:26)  It is also correct that the Son of God did not begin to exist at his virgin birth to Mary.  However, its claim the he enjoyed a billions-of-years-long relationship with his Father is misleading and cannot be supported by the Bible.  The Bible simply does not speak to a specific length of time that elapsed in which God existed with spirit creatures before creating the Heavens and the Earth (1:1).  Furthermore, time itself arguably did not begin until God initiated material creation.  Additionally, the Watch Tower asserts that Jesus preexisted as the angel Michael, “the first angel God created.”[21]  The Biblical record is clear that Jesus is God (John 1:1) and existed eternally before He was incarnated as the man Jesus of Nazareth.  The Son is not a created being and His relationship with the Father (and the Holy Spirit) has existed from eternity past.  Jesus was, the Watch Tower correctly asserts, falsely accused by corrupt people (Mark 14:56) and killed.  However, He did not die on a stake but a cross (Philippians 2:8).  Furthermore He was not “raised back to spirit life” but rather raised bodily. (1 Corinthians 15)  There is ample basis for the doctrine of the Trinity, especially in the baptismal formula mentioned in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19).  Not only do Jehovah’s Witnesses wrong deny the doctrine of the Trinity, they wrongly define it, asserting that “the doctrine is…that there are three Gods in one.”[22] The doctrine of the Trinity is that there is one God, Who exists in three persons.

The Watch Tower Doctrine of the Kingdom of God

There is a real government in Heaven that will replace human governments and accomplish God’s purpose for the earth.  Humankind is living in the last days and thus this government will accomplish its purpose soon.  Jesus is the King of God’s Kingdom in Heaven and he began ruling 1914.

A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of the Kingdom of God

Jesus is indeed King (John 18:37, Revelation 19:16).  In the eschaton, Jesus Christ will return and set up what can rightfully be understood as government upon the Earth (Isaiah 9:7).  He will create a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1-2) and, having reconciled God with man (2 Corinthians 5:18), will eliminate all the sorrow that the fall and sin have brought about[23] (Revelation 21:3-4).  The biblical record differs from Watch Tower teaching in that Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe that the earth will contain a “secondary”[24] class of believers and that 144,000 select Jehovah’s Witnesses will dwell in Heaven and rule over them[25].  There is no Biblical passage which supports the idea that a secondary class of believers will dwell on Earth but not Heaven (rather, Heaven and Earth will essentially merge into one).  The Watch Tower misapplies Matthew 5:5 to support this contention.  The claim that Jesus began ruling in 1914 has no legitimate basis in scripture and is the result of revisionist reaction to a failed end-times prophecy.  Along with other contemporary religious sects, Jehovah’s Witnesses saw the tumultuous times that precipitated World War I as a sign of the end times.  They believed that the world would end in 1914, which didn’t happen. Jehovah’s Witnesses “have totally changed their view of the significance of 1914. They formerly taught that ‘the time of the end’ began in 1799 and would conclude in 1914; today they believe it began in 1914. They used to teach that Christ returned invisibly in 1874 and would take control of earth’s affairs in 1914; now they believe he returned in 1914.  They long predicted ‘the full establishment of the Kingdom of God in the earth at A.D. 1914’…now they say the kingdom was set up in heaven at that time and will assume earthly power later. Virtually everything they formerly taught concerning 1914 has been changed…”[26]

The Watch Tower Doctrine of Salvation

People can be delivered from sin and death through the “ransom sacrifice of Jesus.”[27]  In order to benefit from that sacrifice people must exercise faith in Jesus, change their course of life, and get baptized.  Works are evidence that prove living faith.  Salvation cannot be earned; it comes though the underserved kindness of God.

A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of Salvation

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ does provide the possibility of deliverance from sin and death (Romans 1:16, John 3:16, 1 Peter 3:18).   Faith is indeed required to reap the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice (Ephesians 2:8, Hebrews 11:6).[28]  However, although baptism is an act of obedience (Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38), it is not required for salvation as the example of the thief on the cross proves (Luke 23:43).  If baptism were required for salvation, then salvation would not come through faith alone.  Thus it contradicts biblical teaching to assert that people must be baptized in order to be saved.  Works are indeed evidence of a living faith (James 2:18) and repentance is a prerequisite for salvation (Mark 1:15).  The idea that Jesus’ death was literally a ransom paid for Adam’s sin misunderstands the biblical text.  Christians are delivered from sin and death through the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 53:5).  Christ’s death atoned for the sins of all believers (1 Peter 3:18).  Jehovah’s Witnesses erroneously believe that Jesus’ death was merely a ransom for Adam’s sin.[29]  Furthermore, the Watch Tower’s “ransom” view of Christ’s sacrifice denies possibility of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Under their ransom scenario, “…resurrecting Christ’s body would be impossible…since that would constitute taking back the ransom price he paid…”[30]  The Bible teaches that Christ’s resurrection was bodily (1 Corinthians 6:14, 15); therefore the Jehovah’s Witness insistence on a literal ransom is wrongheaded.

The Watch Tower Doctrine of Heaven

Heaven is a spiritual realm.  It is currently populated by Jehovah God, Jesus Christ, and the faithful angels (those angels that did not rebel along with Satan).  144,000 faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses will one day be resurrected to life in heaven to rule with Jesus.

A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of Heaven

It is true that heaven is a spiritual realm that Jesus and the angels reside there (Acts 1:14, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:12).  However, Jesus does not reside in Heaven with Jehovah God; He resides in Heaven as Jehovah God.  The Godhead consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (as stated above).  Christians will eventually be resurrected to bodily life, a material existence (1 Corinthians 15).  The number of those resurrected is not limited to 144,000; there is no biblical support for that idea.  Rather the Jehovah’s Witnesses misinterpret passages in Revelation to make such a claim.

The Watch Tower Doctrine of Earth

The Earth was created to be mankind’s eternal home.  “God wants the earth to be filled with happy, healthy people.”[31]  The world contains unhealthy and sick people now because of the fall and the machinations of the devil.  “Satan in the ruler of this world.”[32]  Eventually, Satan’s rule will one day be overthrown and God will bless obedient people with everlasting life in an earthly paradise.

A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of Earth

The Watch Tower doctrine of the Earth is fairly accurate.  God’s original creation was good and there was no death (Genesis 1-2).   Through the sin that resulted from the temptation of Satan, death came to mankind (Genesis 3, Romans 5:19, 1 Corinthians 15:22).   The world is under the power of the devil (1 John 5:19).  Satan will be removed from the world and cast into Hell (Revelation 20:10) when Jesus returns.  People who were obedient to God, inasmuch as they responded to His call to repentance, will have an everlasting life in earthly paradise.  However, (as stated above) there will not be a separate heavenly kingdom where a special 144,000 anointed people rule along to Jesus.

 The Watch Tower of Evil and Suffering

Evil and suffering began when angels rebelled.  Satan, a fallen angel, persuaded the first human couple (Adam and Eve) to rebel against God as well.  This caused disaster for Adam and Eve’s descendants.  God will not allow evil and suffering to continue forever.  In order to settle the moral issues raised by Satan to occur, He has allowed evil and suffering.  His allowing rebellion was to teach those who rebelled that not following God’s rule was not the best way to live.[33]

A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower of Evil and Suffering

The Watch Tower correctly asserts that evil and suffering began because of the rebellion of angels in Heaven (Luke 10:18, Revelation 12:7-9).  However, there is scant biblical evidence for a specific reason as to why God allows suffering.  In the book of Job, which addresses evil and suffering, God does not provide an answer as to why evil is allowed (Job 42).  In a somewhat rudimentary way, the Watch Tower asserts a soul-building theodicy for why God allows evil.  There are many such theodicies which are philosophically sound but do not enjoy explicit scriptural support.[34]  The idea that God was trying to “teach us a lesson” by allowing evil is tenuous at best.  Scripture is clear that God is good (Mark 10:18) and that mankind is not in a position to question Him (Job 38:2) and in many cases even understand why God does what He does or allows what He allows.

The Watch Tower Doctrine of Death

When people die, they pass out of existence.  “Death is a ‘state of nonexistence . . . a state of complete unconsciousness’ and “the dead cannot do anything and cannot feel anything.  They no longer have any thoughts.”[35]  The dead do not suffer in fiery hell of torment.  Eventually, God will bring millions of people back from death by means of a resurrection.  At the time of the resurrection, those who refuse to learn God’s ways will be destroyed once and for all without any further hope of being raised to life once more.

A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of Death

There is indeed an intermediate state between death and the resurrection.  However, it is a conscious state (Luke 16:19-31).  The spirits of the righteous[36] dead reside in Heaven with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8) and the spirits of the unrighteous dead reside in Hades awaiting God’s judgment (Revelation 20:13).  There are multiple texts in the Bible which describe the dead as being “asleep” or “knowing nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5).  Through misunderstanding literary genre (wisdom literature in the case of Ecclesiastes) and the use of figurative language, the Watch Tower wrongly concludes that death is state of literal sleep or unconsciousness.  Not only does this view stand at odds with biblical teaching, it stands at odds with biology; it is not uncommon for living people who are asleep to dream and remember the thoughts of their dreams when they awake.  The Watch Tower idea of “soul sleep” during death is plainly nonsensical.  It is also misleading to say that dead do not suffer in fiery torment.  Not only does the Bible indicate that there is state of torment for some in the intermediate state (Luke 16:19-31), eternal torment in Hell awaits nonbelievers after the resurrection of the dead (Revelation 14:11).  There is also nothing to suggest that those who didn’t call upon the name of the Lord for salvation before they died will get a chance to chose to follow God’s commandments after the resurrection of the dead.  The Bible teaches that judgment follows death (Hebrews 9:27) and that, for the damned, this judgment is based upon their deeds (Revelation 20:12).  It is worth noting that Watch Tower theodicy necessitates that those who refuse to learn God’s ways must be annihilated.  Since evil and suffering are, according to Watch Tower thought, only allowed by God in order to teach disobedient people a lesson about obeying God, those who refuse to learn the lesson must be destroyed if evil and suffering are to end.  The Bible teaches that suffering never ends for the damned, they suffer in Hell eternally.  Thus, the Watch Tower interprets scripture, apart from its true meaning, through a broken theological lens, one which will not see a God who would allow eternal suffering in Hell.[37]

The Watch Tower Doctrine of Family

Marriage is the union of one man and one woman.  The wisdom found in the Bible helps families succeed.  Sexual immorality is the only valid basis for divorce.

A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of Family

The Watch Tower doctrine of the family, inasmuch as it is stated above, is biblically sound (Matthew 19:4-9, Ephesians 5:22, 6:1).  However, in practice, adherence to Watch Tower doctrine can cause familial distress.  People who leave the Watch Tower or violate its regulations (i.e. voting, serving in the military, reading literate critical of the Watch Tower, or accepting a blood transfusion) can be shunned by their own parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings.  While it is true that Jesus said adherence to Christianity could split families (Matthew 10:35), the Watch Tower causes family tumult (even death in the case of some medical issues) over extra-biblical doctrines.

The Watch Tower Doctrine of Worship

Key aspects of worship can include praying to God, reading and studying the Bible, mediating on what is learned from the Bible, meeting with other church members to pray, sing, study the Bible, express faith, or encourage one another, preaching the “good news of the kingdom,” helping those in need, participating in disaster relief, and constructing and maintaining church (Kingdom Hall) facilities.  The cross or other images should not be venerated.

 A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of Worship

All of the activities listed above are appropriate expressions of worship in the context of a Christian church.   Images, even the cross (which the Watch Tower incorrectly asserts was not the instrument of Christ’s death) should not be venerated (Exodus 20:4).  Technically, since the Watch Tower is not a Christian church, its worship is false worship.  Nevertheless, the worship activities in which the Watch Tower purports to engage are activities in which members of true Christian churches should engage.

The Watch Tower Doctrine of Organization

Jehovah’s Witnesses are organized into congregations which are led by elders.  Elders are not considered “clergy” and do not earn a salary.  Collections are not taken at meeting and tithing is not required.  All Jehovah’s Witness activities are supported by anonymous donations.  There is a governing body which oversees all local Jehovah’s Witness bodies.  The governing body does so from the Watch Tower’s world headquarters.

A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of Organization

Local congregations should be governed by elders (Titus 1:5, Acts 14:23).  However, there is an “office” of elder that only qualified men can hold (1 Timothy 3:1-7).  Those serving in the office of elder are eligible to receive remuneration for their services (1 Timothy 5:18).  Inasmuch as it is feasible, giving to support Christian work should be done anonymously (Matthew 6:2-4).  There is no biblical mandate for an authoritative worldwide church headquarters that houses a governing body with authority over every single local church.  The Watch Tower’s claim to ecclesiastical authority is spurious.

 The Watch Tower Doctrine of Unity

Jehovah’s Witnesses are globally united in their beliefs.  They work hard to eliminate social, ethnic, racial, and class divisions.  Jehovah’s Witness unity allows for personal choice; each Witness makes decisions which harmonize with his own “Bible-trained conscious.”[38]

A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of Unity

Class divisions should not exist in the church, all members are of equal standing before God (Galatians 3:28).  Church members should be unified on doctrinal matters (1 Corinthians 1:10).  The claim that the Watch Tower allows for personal choice in accordance with conscious is a dubious one, given the various accounts of former members who describe the Watch Tower as authoritarian.[39]  It is also misleading to assert that a Jehovah’s Witness has a “bible-trained” conscious.  As noted above, Jehovah’s Witnesses are expected to understand the Bible through Watch Tower teaching and in accordance with extra biblical Watch Tower literature.

 The Watch Tower Doctrine of Conduct

Unselfish love should be shown in all actions.  Practices that displease God should be avoided. Specifically, blood transfusions should not be received.  Believers should not participate in warfare.  The government should be respected inasmuch as it does not call upon citizens to disobey God’s laws.

A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of Conduct

Unselfish love should be reflected in Christian Behavior (Luke 6:17-49).  Christians should avoid practices that displease God (Deuteronomy 6:5).   The government should be respected as an instrument of God’s justice (Romans 13:1-4). The bible does not proscribe blood transfusions.  The Watch Tower proscription of blood transfusions is based upon an anachronistic and improper application of Levitical Law.  In practice, the refusal of blood transmissions fails to preserve life which could be saved without committing a sin, which cannot be considered pleasing to God.  There is no biblical proscription for participating in warfare.  According to the Watch Tower, Jesus himself will field an army at the battle of Armageddon.[40]  Thus, the Watch Tower doctrine of pacifism seems to contradict its own teaching about Armageddon.  Despite the fact that there is no biblical proscription of military service, there could be cases were serving in the army of a wicked country conflicts with a Christian’s conscious and precludes him from participating in military service.

The Watch Tower Doctrine of Relationships with Others

Attempts to work what is good toward all should be made, while remaining politically neutral in political affairs.  Affiliations with other religions should be avoided while the religious choices of others should be respected.  Neighbors should be loved as one’s self.

A Biblical Response to the Watch Tower Doctrine of Relationships with Others

Affiliation with non-Christian religions should indeed be avoided (2 Corinthians 6:14).  However, there is no biblical proscription against participation in political affairs; the original biblical audiences did not live in democratic societies, thus the Bible does not specifically address voting and running for political office.  Christians are called to have a Godly influence (Matthew 5:13-16) and are expected, as sojourners and exiles upon the earth (1 Peter 2:11), to seek the welfare of their societies (Jeremiah 29:7).  Jesus insisted that the whole of scriptural teaching consisted of two great commandments: loving God completely and loving one’s neighbor as one’s self (Matthew 22:26-40).  Demonstrating this love includes adhering to the Ten Commandments, which forbids bearing false witness (Exodus 20:16).  Jehovah’s Witnesses only forbid lying to fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses.  “Telling a lie to a worldly organization (isn’t) really a lie.  It (is) okay to tell untruths to the world.”[41]  Thus, outsiders cannot always depend on the veracity of Jehovah’s Witness claims and Watch Tower claims about the importance of loving one’s neighbor are themselves deceitful.

 Concluding Analysis

It is a difficult task to set about outlining an overview and critique of Jehovah’s Witness doctrine.  As noted above, Jehovah’s Witnesses are permitted to deceive outsiders.  Thus, outsiders are often dependent on ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses to provide forthright accounts of the Watch Tower organization.  Furthermore, since the Watch Tower in a top-down organization, its doctrinal authority rests with its worldwide governing body.  This body can change doctrinal positions at its discretion whenever it receives what it calls “new light”.  Thus, the longer an ex-Jehovah’s Witness is out of the organization, the more out-of-date his insider information about the Watch Tower may become.  Even those doctrinal positions which the Watch Tower honestly publishes to outsiders are subject to change at a moment’s notice.  This doctrinal overview should be understood with these facts in mind.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Bibliography

2016 Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. “What is the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society?” JW.ORG. 2016. https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/watchtower-society/ (accessed October 16, 2016).

Barker, Jason. New Watchtower Blood Transfusion Policy. 2000. http://www.watchman.org/articles/jehovahs-witnesses/new-watchtower-blood-transfusion-policy/ (accessed 28 2016, August).

Branch, Craig. “Cult or Cultic?” Watchman Fellowshp. http://www.watchman.org/articles/cults-alternative-religions/cult-or-cultic/ (accessed October 16, 2016).

Comments from the Friends . “I was a JW Elder: An interview with former Jehovah’s Witnesses David and Penni Reed.” October 10, 1990. http://ed5015.tripod.com/JwElderDavidReed10.htm (accessed October 2016, 2016).

Comments from the Friends. I WAS A JW ELDER. January 1990. http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/JwElderDavidReed10.htm (accessed August 20, 2016).

Erickson, Millard J. The Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1994.

Hewitt, Joe B. Rescuing Slaves of the Watchtower. Garland, TX: Hannibal Books, 2011.

Rappaport, Andrew R. What Do They Belive? A Systematic Theology of Major Western Religions. Striving For Eternity Ministries, 2015.

Reed, David A. NEWS about Jehovah’s Witnesses. March 1998. http://www.answerjw.com/cftf/online/ (accessed August 20, 2016).

Reed, David. Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses: Subject by Subject. Kindle Edition. Baker Books, 2011.

Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. “Frequently Asked Questions.” JW.ORG. 2016. https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/g201008/frequently-asked-questions/ (accessed October 16, 2016).

—. “What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?” JW.ORG. 2016. https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/jehovah-witness-beliefs/ (accessed October 26, 2016).

—. What Does the Bible Really Teach. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2014.

—. “What Is the Battle of Armageddon?” JW.ORG. 2016. https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/battle-of-armageddon/ (accessed November 6, 2016).

[1] 2016 Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. “What is the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society?” JW.ORG. 2016. https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/Watch Tower-society/ (accessed October 16, 2016).

[2] Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. “Frequently Asked Questions.” JW.ORG. 2016. https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/g201008/frequently-asked-questions/ (accessed October 16, 2016).

[3] Sociologically speaking, Roman Catholicism and Protestant Christianity are reasonably considered branches of the same religion given that they share historic roots and compatible understandings of theology proper.  However, the Roman Catholic gospel is works-based and the authority of the Roman Catholic magisterium is considered equal to that of scripture; both of these ideas are rejected wholesale in Protestant thought.

[5] Branch, Craig. “Cult or Cultic?” Watchman Fellowshp. http://www.watchman.org/articles/cults-alternative-religions/cult-or-cultic/ (accessed October 16, 2016).

[6] The doctrinal categories listed below are taken from the “Top of Form

Bottom of FormWhat Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?” section of the Watch Tower website.  Thus, they are taken from a primary source and can rightly be considered officially recognized theological categories of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Unless otherwise noted, descriptions of these doctrines are taken from the same source.

[7] Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. “What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?” JW.ORG. 2016. https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/jehovah-witness-beliefs/ (accessed October 26, 2016).

[8] Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. What Does the Bible Really Teach. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2014. p 11

[9] Reed, David. Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses: Subject by Subject. Kindle Edition. Baker Books, 2011. p 219

[10] ibid p 130

[11] Rappaport, Andrew R. What Do They Belive? A Systematic Theology of Major Western Religions. Striving For Eternity Ministries, 2015. p 167

[12] Erickson, Millard J. The Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1994.  p 204

[13] Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. What Does the Bible Really Teach. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2014. p 20

[14] Reed, David. Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses: Subject by Subject. Kindle Edition. Baker Books, 2011. p 29

[15] Comments from the Friends . “I was a JW Elder: An interview with former Jehovah’s Witnesses David and Penni Reed.” October 10, 1990. http://ed5015.tripod.com/JwElderDavidReed10.htm (accessed October 2016, 2016).

[16] Hewitt, Joe B. Rescuing Slaves of the Watch Tower. Garland, TX: Hannibal Books, 2011.

[17] Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. What Does the Bible Really Teach. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2014. p 38

[18] ibid p 42

[19] ibid p 46

[20] ibid

[21] Reed, David. Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses: Subject by Subject. Kindle Edition. Baker Books, 2011. p 132

[22] Rappaport, Andrew R. What Do They Belive? A Systematic Theology of Major Western Religions. Striving For Eternity Ministries, 2015. p 166

[23] With the exception of those who endure eternal torment in Hell.

[24] Reed, David. Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses: Subject by Subject. Kindle Edition. Baker Books, 2011. p 113

[25] Rappaport, Andrew R. What Do They Belive? A Systematic Theology of Major Western Religions. Striving For Eternity Ministries, 2015. p 177

[26] Reed, David. Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses: Subject by Subject. Kindle Edition. Baker Books, 2011. p 22

[27] Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. “What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?” JW.ORG. 2016. https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/jehovah-witness-beliefs/ (accessed October 26, 2016).

[28] The Watch Tower has presented conflicting teaching on whether or not works are required for salvation.  Although the Watch Tower website states that “Salvation cannot be earned,” Watch Tower literature has stated otherwise in the past.  Page 204 of the July 1, 1947 edition of the Watch Tower stated, “To get one’s name written in the book of life will depend on one’s works, whether they are in fulfillment of God’s will and approved by his Judge and King.”

[29] Rappaport, Andrew R. What Do They Belive? A Systematic Theology of Major Western Religions. Striving For Eternity Ministries, 2015. p 174

[30] Reed, David. Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses: Subject by Subject. Kindle Edition. Baker Books, 2011. p 185

[31] Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. What Does the Bible Really Teach. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2014. p 27

[32] Ibid p 31

[33] Ibid p 110

[34] For more in-depth treatment of theodicy see my papers Insuperable Good News: Overcoming the Problem of Evil at https://gsethdunn.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/insuperable-good-news-overcoming-the-problem-of-the-problem-from-evil/ and Philosophical and Biblical Responses to Classic Arguments from Evil at https://gsethdunn.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/philosophical-and-bilbical-reponses-to-classic-arguments-from-evil/

[35] Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. What Does the Bible Really Teach. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2014. p 79

[36] The term “righteous” here should be understood to refer to those who have received the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

[37] Charles Taze Russell rejected the biblical doctrine of Hell.  This rejection eventually led to his founding the Jehovah’s Witness sect.  Because Russell rejected a fundamental biblical doctrine at the outset, his cult was doomed to be heretical from the start.  For more information on the life of Charles Taze Russell, consult http://www.challies.com/articles/the-false-teachers-charles-taze-russell

[38] Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. “Frequently Asked Questions.” JW.ORG. 2016. https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/g201008/frequently-asked-questions/ (accessed October 16, 2016).

[39] One such account is that of Joe B. Hewitt.  His description of Watch Tower authority can be found in his book Rescuing Slaves from the Watchtower.

[40] Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.. “What Is the Battle of Armageddon?” JW.ORG. 2016. https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/battle-of-armageddon/ (accessed November 6, 2016).

[41] Hewitt, Joe B. Rescuing Slaves of the Watchtower. Garland, TX: Hannibal Books, 2011. p 35

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s