What is the origin of Jehovah's Witness? Are they a religion or a cult? What books and publications do they use? What do the they believe? What’s the difference between them and Christianity?
Charles Taze Russell
Let’s start with the foundation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) started his own Bible class when he was eighteen in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He did not agree with an eternal hell, the deity of Christ, or the Holy Spirit. In 1879, be began co-publishing The Herald of the Morning magazine with its founder, N. H. Barbour. In 1884, Russell controlled the publication and renamed it to The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. The same year he also founded Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society (now know as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society). Russell claimed that he alone understand the Bible and only his interpretations were correct. Today, the Watchtower Society claims only they can interrupt the Bible, and individuals cannot:
“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 […] the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah’s visible organization in mind” – The Watchtower, October 1, 1997, p.587
This claim clearly puts the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the cult category. Not only do they require people to join as members, they claim that their organization is the sole source for “truth.” The publications of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society include The Watchtower, a magazine issued every two weeks, Awake!, a monthly magazine, and many books including New Heavens and a New Earth, Make Sure of All Things, Reasoning from the Scriptures, Aid to Bible Understanding, The New World, The Truth Shall Make You Free, The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life, School and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Let God Be True. They also use their own translation of the Bible; the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (1961, revised 1984). One of the main changes in this translation is that it translates the Greek word Kyrios, as “Jehovah” instead of “Lord” 237 times out of the 748 times it is used in the New Testament. Here are some verses from their translation:
James 1:5 – So, if any one of YOU is lacking wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching; and it will be given him. (NWT)
James 3:17 – But the wisdom from above is first of all chaste, then peaceable, reasonable, ready to obey, full of mercy and good fruits, not making partial distinctions, not hypocritical. (NWT)
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are being hypocrites by contradicting their own beliefs. In their magazine, they say no one can interpret the Bible, regardless of how sincere they are. However, James says that anyone can obtain wisdom from God directly, and that this wisdom will be pure, impartial, and non-hypocritical.
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