The founder of the Movement was Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) who lived in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. He was on the point of rejecting Christianity when he decided to read through the Bible himself and to make his own interpretation of it. Soon he gathered some followers and, as no existing Church suited them, they founded their own Church.
Unfortunately Russell’s character was not above reproach. His divorce proceedings gave him unfavourable publicity as did his “Miracle Wheat” Scandal To cut a long story short, faithful witnesses were offered a special miracle wheat which would give a much higher yield for them than for those who were not witnesses. Needless to say this is at best wishful thinking and at worst clearly dishonest.
In one of his many court cases, when under oath at Hamilton, Ontario, Russell was asked whether he knew Greek. On replying that he did he was handed a Greek New Testament and asked to read from it, which he was unable to do. After further cross examination he then admitted that he knew neither Greek, Latin nor Hebrew. Yet this is the man who pronounced all existing Bible Translation unreliable and all other churches anti-Christian!
J. F. Rutherford (1869-1942) took over the leadership largely following Russell’s views. Though a lawyer, Rutherford spent nine months in prison for “seditious utterances”.
However Russell and Rutherford are now conveniently forgotten. Many witnesses are very sincere. Their zeal at spreading their views puts us to shame. They are obliged to visit within an allotted area and to submit reports. They will come to your door selling “Watchtower” or “Awake” magazines and perhaps offering other literature published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society Inc. and the International Bible Students Association. They regard the Church of England and other Churches as “of the Devil”.
Are they Christian?
Trinity Our creed and much of our worship expresses belief in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Witnesses say that “Satan is the originator of the ‘trinity’ doctrine”. They say that we believe in three gods, even in God as a person with one body and three heads.
Jesus He is not divine, they say, “he may however be regarded as a god in a secondary sense as being a ‘mighty one'”. They have to twist many parts of the New Testament, to back this up. They also say that the death and resurrection of Christ is not enough to guarantee forgiveness and eternal life for us.
Resurrection They say that Jesus’ body was not raised from the dead but only his spirit. However Jesus himself specifically denies this in Luke 24: 36-43. Rutherford’s fantastic imagination shows itself when he says “The Scriptures do not reveal what became of that body (i.e. Christ’s) except that it did not decay or corrupt. . . We can only surmise that the Lord may have preserved it somewhere to exhibit to the people in the Millennial Age.”
Heaven They believe that only 144,000 people will go to heaven and these will be Jehovah’s Witnesses. The rest of the witnesses will have eternal life on earth and we who are not witnesses will presumably be destroyed.
The Second Coming of Christ Witnesses believe that Christ came in 1914 although conveniently no one saw him. The First World War was supposed to be a sign of this having happened.
All in all the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the Christian belief in God the Holy Trinity, they deny the divinity of Christ, the value of the death of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Christ and they have fantastic views of heaven and the Second Coming of Christ. Even so some people call them Christian. I have found that it is useless to argue with a Jehovah’s Witness. They are so indoctrinated with their beliefs that even if they are proved wrong they will not admit defeat. The best approach to them is a polite but firm refusal to argue, but do pray for them.
© Tony Higton: see conditions for reproduction