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If you have read through Changed Watchtower Doctrines, you are aware the Governing Body does not have holy spirit directing their interpretations. Jehovah has not presented through them an accurate and unified body of truth. The resultant implication is very important - current doctrines are equally likely to be incorrect.
This section shows how many core Watchtower doctrine are unsupported scripturally, and backed up by misquotes and dishonest forms of reasoning.
607 / 1914 / Seven Times
Cross or Stake
Disfellowshipping & Shunning
Global Flood of Noah
Great Crowd and Other Sheep
Jehovah - God's Name?
Mediator for only the 144,000
144,000 - a literal number?
Paradise Earth Forever?
Preaching - only Witnesses?
Overview of Watchtower Beliefs and Practices
The past, present and future are explained in the following way.
- Jehovah is the Father and Almighty God
- Jehovah has existed eternally
- Jehovah created Jesus and together they created all else
- A righteous angel sinned and became Satan
- Satan deceived Eve, who deceived Adam, leading to mankind's fall into sin and the cause of human death
- Jesus came to earth to die as a Ransom sacrifice so that God could forgive the sins of humankind
- With our sins forgiven and the establishment of Jesus as ruler over earth humans will be able to live forever on earth
- Jesus began ruling in heaven in 1914 and will very shortly begin ruling over the earth
- Prior to taking over ruler of the earth Jesus will destroy all religion, government and commercial systems at Armageddon. Only Jehovah's Witnesses will survive Armageddon
Key concepts are:
- God is not a Trinity. The Father alone is Almighty God, Jesus is his created son and not to be worshipped
- We do not have a soul; we are a soul
- On death we are unconscious and cease to exist until a future resurrection
- Jehovah has permitted wickedness due to a legal obligation to Satan. This is known as the issue of Universal Sovereignty, and directly relates to a humans right to free will
- Only 144,000 humans go to heaven to be rulers. Deserving humans will live on earth. The rest of humanity will simply not exist
Fundamental practices are:
- Actively preach, normally door-to-door or beside literature carts, distributing Watchtower publications
- Regular meeting attendance - two times a week,
- Separation from the world, including refusal to vote, salute the flag, celebrate birthdays, Christmas and Easter
- Strict moral code, including no
- Illegal drugs
For a detailed insight into Jehovah's Witnesses, the official Watchtower Website is jw.org and a balanced overview can be found at Wikipedia.
The term "The Truth" is repeated so constantly that Jehovah's Witnesses sincerely believe there is no other way in which the Bible can be understood. A person that believes God directs the Faithful and Discreet Slave unwittingly attempts to align the Bible with the Watchtower. The primary goal of reading the Bible is to understand it in line with what the Watchtower Society says is truth.
"We must serve Jehovah in truth, as revealed in his Word and made clear in the publications of "the faithful and discreet slave." Watchtower 1996 May 15 p.18
Jehovah's Witnesses believe what comes from the Watchtower Society today to be the truth - current truth. Yet did not Watchtower followers believe the greatly different teachings of Russell to be the truth, teachings still accepted by Bible Students? When Rutherford overturned many of these beliefs, did not Jehovah's Witnesses think Rutherford had it correct? When Knorr changed more teachings on release of the New World Translation, Witnesses accepted these new teachings as correct. It is readily apparent that just because a group of people strongly believe something to be true does not make it so.
There are two ways that a religion develops its doctrines - eisegesis and exegesis. Eisegesis is where scriptures are found to support a pre-existing belief, resulting in inaccurate doctrine and the possibility of any number of interpretations.
A more respected approach is to arrive at doctrinal understanding through exegesis. Let a passage explain itself in its literary context, doing so in line with its relationship to other Biblical passages and parallel literature of the period. To understand Scripture, consider what it meant to the person making the statement and what it conveyed to the person spoken to, in line with what they already knew from other Scriptures, the point made at the time and the prevailing culture.
A large portion of Watchtower doctrine comes from an Eisegesis approach. An Eisegesis approach and resultant inaccuracies can be quickly identified in significant and defining doctrine.
- Only 144,000 are anointed and go to heaven
- All not associated with the Watchtower Society will be destroyed at Armageddon
- Use of the word Jehovah is an important part of worship
- Normal behaviour, such as birthdays or belief in the cross is ungodly
- Shunning of former members
- Refusing to use blood
- That the Last Days started in 1914
When a Scripture disagrees with Watchtower doctrine, it is regularly dismissed as being figurative. A classic example of the doctrine of an earthly resurrection. The Watchtower claims only 144,000 go to heaven, and anyone that died before Jesus will be resurrected onto earth. However, the Bible plainly states Abraham is in heaven.
Matthew 8:11 "But I tell YOU that many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens."
Observe the illogical way the Watchtower dismisses this Scripture as "figurative", "representative" and "illustrative" of other things. Further, the reference to John 3:13 is a misquote and misapplied.
"How did Abraham expect to receive Isaac back from the dead? In heaven as a spirit? No, but here on earth as a human creature. In an illustrative way he got Isaac back from the dead here on earth. So Abraham was not looking for any spiritual, heavenly resurrection to put him among the celestial angels any more than he was expecting Isaac to have such a resurrection and rejoin him in heaven. … In the year 30 (A.D.) Jesus told Nicodemus that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not in heaven. (John 3:13) … It is therefore evident that in Matthew 8:11 Jesus referred to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob figuratively. On the occasion when Abraham offered up his son Isaac, Abraham represented Jehovah God and Isaac represented God’s only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, who was offered up in sacrifice. Accordingly Jacob represented the spiritual Christian congregation, the “kingdom of the heavens” class; for, just as the congregation gets life through Jesus Christ, so Jacob got life from Abraham through Isaac. From this standpoint Abraham, Isaac and Jacob mentioned together in Jesus’ illustration would picture the great theocratic government, in which Jehovah is the Great Theocrat, Jesus Christ is his anointed representative King, and the faithful, victorious Christian congregation of 144,000 members is the body of Christ’s joint heirs in the Kingdom." Watchtower 1962 Mar 15 pp.191-192
For this reason, those that leave and read the Bible in preference to the Watchtower regularly revert to common Christian beliefs.
"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 ..." Watchtower 1981 Aug 15 p.29
Much of Watchtower teaching could never be arrived at by reading the Bible alone. Notable examples are the Watchtower's explanations of prophetic books such as Revelation, with its interpretations referencing obscure events in twentieth century Watchtower history. Is it logical that when John wrote and Early Christian congregations discussed Revelation, they understood it to prefigure events in the early 1900's, such as Rutherford's imprisonment? This is so much the case that Revelation, it's Grand Climax is at Hand has been referred to as scripture in its own right. Referring to the Revelation book, Botting and Botting note:
"This volume, like many Watch Tower publications, blurs the traditional boundaries that distinguish sacred literature from interpretation, so much so in fact that it is argued here that this book functions, in effect, as scripture for this particular reading community." 1984 The Orwellian World of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p.94
Just as a well built house will collapse if its foundation is faulty, when a person builds their beliefs on an incorrect premise, the entire structure will be unsound. Once you no longer believe the premise the Jehovah directs what comes forth from the Watchtower leaders, it becomes possible to read the Bible for what it actually says. Belief in absolute Watchtower truth changes once you can accept that:
- the Watchtower was not chosen in 1919 as God's Organization
- the Watchtower Society has made ongoing significant doctrinal changes
- other religions are equally sincere in attempting to understand the Bible
Strong indication of what is most important to the Watchtower Society comes from the Scriptures concentrated on. On the Watchtower CD Library, of the 1189 Bible chapters, 5% of all citations come from just five chapters, of which four are about the Last Days. By far the most important cited chapter is Matthew 24, to promote that the Watchtower Society alone holds office as the Faithful and Discreet Slave (v45) in the Last Days (v3) and that we must preach (v14). Concentration on a limited portion of the Bible results in a distorted view of its message, and Witnesses that read the entire Bible without the aid of Watchtower publications are regularly shocked to find the message quite different than what they have been led to believe.
This section shows that other religions have good Scriptural reason for not accepting Watchtower beliefs. Many religions have built doctrine through centuries of effort by intelligent and sincere truth seekers. When Watchtower teachings differ from other Christians, it is not because everyone else has been 'blinded by Satan'; it is often because the Governing Body and Watchtower writers do not understand the Bible as accurately as Christian scholars do.
Although a departure from mainstream Christian thinking, little of Watchtower doctrine is unique. Russell originally took much doctrine from the Adventists, such as his belief against the Trinity and immortality of the soul, and his understanding of prophecy. Christians commonly interpret the Bible with "Replacement Theology", claiming Scripture discussing literal Israel and Jerusalem refer to the Church, just as the Watchtower aligns Bible prophecy with itself. There is little difference between Jehovah's Witnesses and American groups that started the same time, such as Seventh-day Adventists, Christadelphians and Church of God.
Whilst claims of an absolute truth hold philosophical merit, believing it is held within the domain of a single organization proves to be wrong. The Bible contains an array of writings that can be taken as figurative or literal, resulting in a vast chasm of doctrinal variation - hence the wide variety of Christian denominations today. There is no single provable "true" interpretation of the Bible; certainly the numerous ongoing changes the Watchtower has made to its doctrine should prove this to a Witness. The Watchtower picks and chooses when to refer to Old Testament guidelines and when to claim the Old Testament was superseded by the New Testament. These affect the plethora of prophecy, doctrine and moral stance, and result in endless tweaking and claims of "new light".
This section shows as simply as possible why key Watchtower doctrine are unfounded.
Written 2007, latest update January 2017.
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2023