This Week’s Downloads:
I. Definition of Cult
- “A religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious.” – Webster’s
- A group which holds doctrine “contradictory to orthodox Christianity” – Walter Martin
- “A group of people gathered around a specific person or person’s misinterpretation of the Bible” – Walter Martin
- A cult is contextually defined and presupposes a particular orthodoxical standard. That is in the context of Christianity as orthodox, JW’s is a cult. In the context of Judaism as orthodox, Christianity is a cult
II. 5 Characteristics of Christian Cults
- Rejection of the Trinity in general and Jesus’ deity in particular
- Only they have the truth and all other forms of Christianity is wrong
- They claim to believe the Bible but distort its teachings to support their own doctrine
- All deny that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone
- Use Christian terminology but with vastly different definitions
III. General Approach in Addressing Any Cult
The best defense against cults is to know God’s word and to be able to test all things by God’s word
1 Thess. 5:21-22
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
22 Abstain from every form of evil.
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
2 Tim. 2:15-18
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort,
18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.
“Only by knowing the real difference between what you believe and what certain cultists believe can you reach out to them with the all fulfilling truth and power of the gospel.” (113)
I. History of Jehovah Witnesses
a. History of the Man: Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916)
- Rejected Congregational church views as a teen
- The Trinity
- Later he was influenced by Adventist teaching –
- That there was no eternal punishment
- Emphasized the second coming of Christ which some predicted would happen in 1874
- When this didn’t happen some Adventist taught that it did, just in a “spiritual and invisible way”
- 1879 he left the Adventist movement and launched what would become the Watchtower magazine
- In the magazine he predicted Armageddon would come in 1914
- 1896 the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was founded
- 1912 he was exposed as a perjurer, having claimed to know Greek was unable to identify Greek letters
- “He wrote a six-book series called Studies in the Scriptures which he described as “practically the Bible itself”
- 1914 WWI came which he called the beginning of Armageddon
- 1916 He died
b. History of the Movement: (1916-Present)
- Joseph Rutherford (1869-1942)
- 1917 Joseph F. Rutherford becomes president
- He set 1925 new date for Armageddon as being from God and not man and “absolutely and unqualifiedly correct” (117)
- After 1925 came and went he claimed that he had been misunderstood
- 1931 changed the name to Jehovah Witnesses (Isa. 43:10)
- He innovated door to door witnessing
- Starting in the 1920s he claimed that only 144,000 people were going to make it to heaven
- By the 1930s the 144,000 spots were filling up and Armageddon had not come
- He announced that those who became JW before 1935 would go to heaven but those thereafter would not go to heaven but could look forward to paradise on earth
- 1942 Rutherford Dies; Armageddon still had not come
- Nathan Knorr (1905-1977)
- 1942 became president
- He made all JW publication anonymous
- 1943 The Truth Shall Make You Free was published by WTBTS
- This work outline a new dating system for the return of Christ
- This work denied that Christ had returned in 1914 (which is what Russel had taught)
- The generation of 1914 would not pass away before Armageddon came
- 1975 was the “absolutely final” date for Armageddon (it did no come)
- 1977 Knorr dies
- Frederick Franz (1893-1992)
- 1977 he became president (previously the vice president)
- He did not predict any dates for Armageddon
- Milton G. Henschel (1920-2003)
- 1992 became president
- He disregarded the entire 1914 prophecy by presenting “new light”
- The new explanation:
The word “generation” didn’t refer to people alive in 1914 but to all people in any generation
- Died 2003
- Don A. Adams (1925-2014)
- 2000 became president
- 2014 died
- Robert Ciranko (1947-Present)
- 2014 becomes president
“Watchtower scholars assured the world that numerous biblical condemnations of false prophets did not apply to them.” (120)
C. History of Armageddon Prophecies
- 1880 — “We need not here repeat the evidences that the seventh trump began its sounding in 1840 and will continue until the end of the time of trouble, and the end of the times of the Gentiles in 1914.” (Zion’s Watchtower, November 1880, page 1)
- 1888 — “… the full end of the times of the Gentiles, i.e., the full end of their lease of dominion, will be reached in 1914… at that date the Kingdom of God… will obtain full, universal control… and it will then be set up, or firmly established, in the earth on the ruins of the present institutions.” (The Time is at Hand, 1888, pp. 76-77)
- 1889 — “… the setting up of the Kingdom of God has already begun… and the battle of the great day of God Almighty (Revelation 16:14) which will end in 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced. Remember that… the Gospel age harvest will end October, 1914, and that likewise the overthrow of ‘Christendom,’ so-called, must be expected to immediately follow.” (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 2, 1889, pp. 101 and 245)
- 1894 — “We see no reason for changing the figures — nor would we change them if we could. They are, we believe, God’s dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date of the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble.” (Watchtower, July 15, 1894, p. 266)
- 1897 — “Complete destruction of ‘the powers that be’ of ‘this present evil world’ — political, financial, ecclesiastical — [will occur] about the close of the ‘time of the Gentiles’ in October 1914.” (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 4, 1897, p. 622)
- 1902 — “In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished by the end of 1914.” (The Time is at Hand, 1902 edition, p. 99) Note: this same statement was contained in the 1908 edition of the same book.
- 1904 — “According to our expectations, the stress of the great time of trouble will be on us soon, somewhere between 1910 and 1912, culminating with the end of the ‘Times of the Gentiles’ in 1914.” (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 6, 1904, p. 579)
- In 1912 Russell explained that he did not know how to account for the year 0 between B.C. and A.D. and that the end could be in either 1914 or 1915. The 2520 years of Daniels seven times prophecy extends from 606 to 1915 once the year zero between B.C. and A.D. is removed.
- “Then, we were content to say, “606 B.C. seems a well authenticated date for the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and B.C. 536 the date when the seventy years’ appointed desolation of the land ceased.” …
As to the methods of counting, Encyclopaedia Britannica says, “Astronomers denote the year which preceded the first of our era as 0 and the year previous to that as B.C. 1-the previous year B.C. 2, and so on.”
Whichever of these ways we undertake to calculate the matter the difference between the results is one year. The seventy years of Jewish captivity ended October, 536 B.C., and if there were 536-1/4 years B.C., then to complete the 2,520 years’ cycle of the Times of the Gentiles would require 1913-3/4 years of A.D., or to October, 1914. But if the other way of reckoning were used, then there were but 535-1/4 years of the period B.C., and the remainder of the 2,520 years would reach to A.D., 1914-3/4 years, otherwise October, 1915.
Since this question is agitating the minds of a considerable number of the friends, we have presented it here in some detail. We remind the readers, however, that nothing in the Scriptures says definitely that the trouble upon the Gentiles will be accomplished before the close of the Times of the Gentiles, whether that be October, 1914, or October, 1915. The trouble doubtless will be considerable before the final crash, even though that crash come suddenly, like the casting of a great millstone into the sea. (Rev. 18:21.) The parallel between the Jewish Harvest and the present Harvest would corroborate the thought that the trouble to the full will be accomplished by October, 1915.” Watch Tower 1912 Dec 1 pp. 377-8
- With the outbreak of World War One in August 1914, Russell reconfirmed that the end would be October 1914. When nothing happened in October 1914 Russell reused the idea that 1915 would signal the end.
- “In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished near the end of A.D. 1915. …
Be not surprised, then, when in subsequent chapters we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun, that it is pointed out in prophecy as due to begin the exercise of power in A.D. 1878, and that the “battle of the great day of God Almighty” (Rev. 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1915, with the complete overthrow of the earth’s present rulership, is already commenced. …
The “Gentile Times” prove that the present governments must all be overturned about the close of 1915 A.D.” Studies In the Scriptures Series II – The Time Is At Hand1915 ed. pp.99, 101, 242
- 1915 was to herald the end of worldly government and the reestablishment of Palestine.
- When nothing happened in 1915 the Watchtower went back to using 1914.
- “Be that as it may, there is evidence that the establishment of the Kingdom in Palestine will probably be in 1925, ten years later than we once calculated.” Studies In the Scriptures Series VII – The Finished Mystery 128
- Joseph Rutherford set 1925 as the new date for Armageddon as being from God and not man and “absolutely and unqualifiedly correct” (117)
- After 1925 came and went he claimed that he had been misunderstood
1940s-1960s “the end is near”
- 1940 — “The year 1940 is certain to be the most important year yet because Armageddon is very near.” (Informant, April 1940, p. 1)
- 1941 — “Armageddon is surely near…” (Children, 1941, p. 366)
- 1942 — “Now, with Armageddon immediately before us…” (Watchtower, April 1, 1942, p. 139)
- 1946 — “The disaster of Armageddon… is at the door.” (Let God be True, 1946, p. 194)
- 1955 — “In the light of the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, it is becoming clear that the war of Armageddon is nearing its breaking-out point.” (You May Survive in God’s New World, 1955, p. 331)
- 1966 — “Armageddon is, in fact, very close indeed.” (Watchtower, October 15, 1966, p. 629)
1975 (but for sure this time)
- 1963 – Then, in the mid-Sixties, the focus of Watchtower prophecies shifted again. All the organization’s publications began to teach that the six thousand years of Man’s existence since the time of Creation would end in the fall of 1975, and that the Seventh Millennium, marking the beginning of the reign of Jesus, would begin at that time. (See All Scripture is Inspired of God and Beneficial, 1963, p. 286, and Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, 1966, pp. 29-30.)
- 1963 – In July of 1969, President Nathan H. Knorr addressed 81,000 Witnesses at Dodger Field in Los Angeles. “Why are we looking forward to 1975?” he asked. And then he answered his question by stating, “It is firmly maintained that by the autumn of the year 1975, the battle of Armageddon will have been fought and God’s new world will have been established” (Los Angeles Herald Examiner, July 21, 1969).
- When 1975 came and passed, the faithful were once again berated by the Watchtower leaders for “thinking that Bible chronology reveals the specific date of the Lord’s return” (Watchtower, July 15, 1976, p. 440).
II. Doctrinal Differences
a. Primary: The Authority of the Watchtower
“So does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet? . . . This “prophet” was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses . . . Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a ‘prophet’ of God. It is another thing to prove it,” (Watchtower, Apr. 1, 1972, p. 197). (See Deut. 18:21.)
The Bible can only be understood via the Watchtower organization.
- “Only this organization functions for Jehovah’s purpose and to his praise. To it alone God’s Sacred Word, the Bible, is not a sealed book,” (Watchtower, July 1, 1973, p. 402).
Individuals are not able to rightly interpret the Bible apart from the Watchtower organization.
- “Thus the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible,” (Watchtower, Oct. 1, 1967, p. 587).
If you don’t understand something, meekly wait for the Watchtower to tell you what the truth is; otherwise, you are foolish.
- We should eat and digest and assimilate what is set before us, without shying away from parts of the food because it may not suit the fancy of our mental taste . . . We should meekly go along with the Lord’s theocratic organization and wait for further clarification, rather than balk at the first mention of a thought unpalatable to usand proceed to quibble and mouth our criticisms and opinions as though they were worth more than the slave’s provision of spiritual food. Theocratic ones will appreciate the Lord’s visible organization and not be so foolish as to put against Jehovah’s channel their own human reasoning and sentiment and personal feelings,” (Watchtower, Feb. 1, 1952, p. 79-80).
Cannot understand the Bible outside of the Watchtower organization.
- “We all need help to understand the Bible, and we cannot find the Scriptural guidance we need outside the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ organization,” (Watchtower, Feb. 15, 1981).
Those who think apart from the Watchtower’s guidance are like Satan.
- “From time to time, there have arisen from among the ranks of Jehovah’s people those, who, like the original Satan, have adopted an independent, faultfinding attitude…They say that it is sufficient to read the Bible exclusively, either alone or in small groups at home. But, strangely, through such ‘Bible reading,’ they have reverted right back to the apostate doctrines that commentaries by Christendom’s clergy were teaching 100 years ago . . ” (Watchtower, Aug. 15, 1981).
The truth of God can be known only through the Watchtower organization.
- “All who want to understand the Bible should appreciate that the “greatly diversified wisdom of God” can become known only through Jehovah’s channel of communication, the faithful and discreet slave,”(Watchtower, Oct. 1, 1994, p. 8).
- Strict monotheism which denies the Trinity
- The Deity of Jesus
- The Deity of the Holy Spirit
- The Resurrection of Jesus
- The existence of Hell
- The Nature of Jesus’ resurrection
- Jesus death provides only the opportunity of to be saved. Salvation is by works and if successful only gets you paradise on earth
- The Second coming of Jesus (took place in 1914 was spiritual and invisible and He has sense returned to heaven where He now rules)
III. Sharing the Gospel with Jehovah Witnesses
a. Knowing with absolute certainty your Christology
b. Lead by asking questions
Because they are programed to believe that only they a have the truth start by asking:
- Something puzzles me…
- I don’t understand
- Perhaps you can help me understand?
c. Affirm the Humanity of Jesus
d. Ask questions concerning the verses which deal with His Deity
Walter Martin on how to witness to JWs, focusing on Christology; Ask question about the Nature of who Jesus is
“… every Christian needs to be absolutely sure of what the Bible teaches regarding the Trinity, Jesus’ deity and resurrection, the Holy Spirit and salvation through grace, not works. If you hope to answer the JWs who come to your door, you need these Bible basics to give a reason for the hope that is within you.” (127)
Because they are programed to believe that only they a have the truth start by asking:
- Something puzzles me…
- I don’t understand
- perhaps you can help me understand?
The Authority of The Watchtower does not stand the test of Scripture
21 “And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ –
22 “when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
- Q: How shall we know what is a false prophet?
- A: If the prophet – the thing is spoken in the name of the Lord
– the thing does not come to pass
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
16 “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
18 “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
- The fruit of a false prophet is false prophecy
From Matt Slick:
Jehovah’s Witnesses and their many false prophecies
In 1972 the Jehovah’s Witness Watchtower claimed to be the prophet of God.
“So does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet? . . . This “prophet” was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses . . . Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a ‘prophet’ of God. It is another thing to prove it,” (Watchtower, Apr. 1, 1972, p. 197).
- 1897 “Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874,” (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 4, p. 621).
- 1899 ” . . . the ‘battle of the great day of God Almighty’ (Revelation 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced,” (The Time Is at Hand, 1908 edition, p. 101).
- 1916 “The Bible chronology herein presented shows that the six great 1000 year days beginning with Adam are ended, and that the great 7th Day, the 1000 years of Christ’s Reign, began in 1873,” (The Time Is at Hand, forward, p. ii).
- 1918 “Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection,” (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, p. 89).
- 1922 “The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures than 1914,” (Watchtower, Sept. 1, 1922, p. 262).
- 1923 “Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures. As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge,” (Watchtower, Apr. 1, 1923, p. 106).
- 1925 “The year 1925 is here. With great expectation Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during this year. This may be accomplished. It may not be. In his own due time God will accomplish his purposes concerning his people. Christians should not be so deeply concerned about what may transpire this year,” (Watchtower, Jan. 1, 1925, p. 3).
- 1925 “It is to be expected that Satan will try to inject into the minds of the consecrated, the thought that 1925 should see an end to the work,” (Watchtower, Sept., 1925, p. 262).
- 1926 “Some anticipated that the work would end in 1925, but the Lord did not state so. The difficulty was that the friends inflated their imaginations beyond reason; and that when their imaginations burst asunder, they were inclined to throw away everything,” (Watchtower, p. 232).
- 1931 “There was a measure of disappointment on the part of Jehovah’s faithful ones on earth concerning the years 1917, 1918, and 1925, which disappointment lasted for a time . . . and they also learned to quit fixing dates,” (Vindication, p. 338).
- 1941 “Receiving the gift, the marching children clasped it to them, not a toy or plaything for idle pleasure, but the Lord’s provided instrument for most effective work in the remaining months before Armageddon,” (Watchtower, Sept. 15, 1941, p. 288).
- 1968 “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 evidence that he was using and guiding them,” (Awake, Oct. 8, 1968).
- 1968 “Why are you looking forward to 1975?” (Watchtower, Aug. 15, 1968, p. 494).
A JW might say that the organization is still learning. If that is so, then how can they trust what they are taught now by the Watchtower? Will what they are being taught now change also?
A true prophet of God won’t err in prophesying. Only a false prophet does. The Jehovah’s Witness organization, that claims to be a prophet of God, is really a false prophet. Jesus warned us by saying, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible” (Matt. 24:24).