Are the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) a Christian denomination?
By Dr. Paul M. Elliott (From the Teaching theWord Bible Knowledgebase)
Like many other cults, Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to believe the Bible and use the name of Jesus. But their beliefs clearly demonstrate that they are not Christians.
Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) founded what became known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 1880s. Russell grew up in Presbyterian and Congregationalist circles, but by his late teens he had abandoned basic Christian beliefs. For a time he investigated Eastern religions, including Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Taoism, and their influences can be seen in many of the things he eventually taught as the doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In his early twenties, Russell became involved with men who would become the founders of Seventh Day Adventism. This group of men came to believe that the doctrines of Protestant Christianity were in serious error. Russell later broke with this group, began developing his own body of doctrine, and formed Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society in the early 1880s. Its successor organizations became popularly known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses by the late 1920s, and the organization officially adopted that name in 1931. Today the organization goes by the name Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as the name Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which is its legal corporate entity headquartered in Brooklyn, New York.
Jehovah’s Witnesses today claim to have about 8 million adherents worldwide, and have made significant gains in recent years in Asia and in the former Soviet bloc countries. They undertake missionary activity in virtually every nation, mainly through house-to-house visitation. They offer free literature and often engage people in conversation by asking leading questions about current events or the person’s religious convictions, and they are trained to quickly steer the conversation toward the presentation of Watchtower beliefs.
Name any area of authentic Christian doctrine, and you will find that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs are contrary to the Word of God – including their teachings about the nature of the Bible itself, the Bible’s authority and interpretation, the nature of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, creation, life, death, salvation, Heaven, Hell, prophecy, the end times, worship, and church authority, to name only a few.
Answering with Biblical Authority
Over the next several days, we’ll briefly examine key teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and show how Christians can answer them with authority from the Word of God – not for the purpose of winning arguments, but to respectfully present the truth and prayerfully seek to win them to Christ, by the power of the Word and the regenerating work of its Author, God the Holy Spirit.
Next: A Look at the New World Translation
As we continue this series of articles on the Jehovah’s Witnesses, we’ll look at some key passages in the New World Translation and see how they compare with a faithful translation of God’s Word.