Identifying Jehovah’s Witnesses as the True Religion?
Is there a true religion, and if there is, who are they? When asked if Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only true religion, Watchtower invokes several identifiers. Are these reasons compelling?
The first thing to recognise is that every religion believes it is the true religion. The difference is how accepting they are of other religious groups. Some teach that a loving God will accept all people, since the wages of sin is death. Others teach that only those that accept Jesus will be saved. Being fundamental Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses accept no other religion as true, and only they will survive Armageddon.
"Do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that their religion is the only right one?
The Bible does not agree with the modern view that there are many acceptable ways to worship God. Ephesians 4:5 says there is “one Lord, one faith.” Jesus stated: “Narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it. . . . Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.”—Matt. 7:13, 14, 21; see also 1 Corinthians 1:10.
Repeatedly the Scriptures refer to the body of true Christian teachings as “the truth,” and Christianity is spoken of as “the way of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15; 2 John 1; 2 Pet. 2:2) Because Jehovah’s Witnesses base all of their beliefs, their standards for conduct, and organizational procedures on the Bible, their faith in the Bible itself as God’s Word gives them the conviction that what they have is indeed the truth. So their position is not egotistical but demonstrates their confidence that the Bible is the right standard against which to measure one’s religion. They are not self-centered but are eager to share their beliefs with others." Reasoning From the Scriptures pp.203
To justify that only Jehovahs Witnesses are the true religion, Watchtower has created a list of additional criteria to identify themselves.
“(1) From most of their Bible translations they have removed the name of the true God thousands of times. (2) The Trinity doctrine, their concept of God himself, is borrowed from pagan sources and was developed in its present form centuries after Bible writing was completed. (3) Their belief in immortality of the human soul as the basis for continued life is not taken from the Bible; it has roots in ancient Babylon. (4) The theme of Jesus’ preaching was the Kingdom of God, and he sent his disciples out to talk personally to others about it; but the churches today seldom mention that Kingdom and their members are not doing the work of preaching “this good news of the kingdom.” (Matt. 24:14) (5) Jesus said that his true followers could be readily identified by their self-sacrificing love for one another. Is that true of the religions of Christendom when the nations go to war? (6) The Bible says that Christ’s disciples would be no part of the world, and it warns that whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God; but the churches of Christendom and their members are deeply involved in the political affairs of the nations.” Reasoning From the Scriptures pp.203-204
In summary, these are:
- Using the word Jehovah
- Teaching God is not a Trinity
- Teaching the soul is mortal
- Not engaging in War - proof of love
- Not voting- proof a being no part of the world
The Bible does not provide a bullet list to identify who is acceptable to God, and it is difficult to refrain from being cynical when viewing such a modern day approach. Each religion takes the liberty to create a list with criteria that identify themselves. It is basic marketing, promote the unique selling points of the product your organization sells.
Let’s entertain the idea that the 6 unique selling points Watchtower identifies in the Reasoning Book are valid. Are they compelling enough to prove Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only true religion?
Watchtower teaches that God’s name is Jehovah, and using this word identifies them as God’s true followers. This is based on the appearance of the Tetragrammaton - YHWH - in the Old Testament.
The first point to note is that Jehovah is a poor rendition of YHWH, and Yahweh is accepted as a more accurate version.
More important is that the Tetragrammaton never appears in the New Testament, showing this word does not identify Christians. In fact, Watchtower corrupts their New World Bible Translation by falsely including Jehovah in the New Testament.
Watchtower teaches that other Christians follow a false god because they worship a Trinity. This is an extensive topic, but is undermined by two points.
Not all Christian religions worship a Triune God. The Trinity developed to encompass the Old Testament teaching of Monotheism in Deut 4:4 with the New Testament concept that Jesus is God.
The Bible is not arranged like an encylclopedia, with doctine arranged alphabetically. It does not have a subheading on the mortality of the soul, or for that matter, the meaning of life, nature of God or condition of the death.
in one book the dead are unconscious, another discusses a fiery hell. Different sects evolve on the basis on which Scripture is taken as figurative and which as literal. Watchtower says it is the true religion because it correctly says the soul is mortal, but another religion will make the same claim of being true because it accurate interprets the Bible as proving the soul is immortal.
Watchtower claims Jehovah’s Witnesses are alone in preaching. This is simply false, proven by the existence of thousand of other Christian sects, and addressed in detail at Preaching.
Love identifiers Jesus’ followers and Watchtower claims this refers to their stance against war. Whilst the neutrality of Jehovah’s Witness is compelling, as war is barbaric and evil, the topic is not that simple.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are neutral, but not pacifist, and there are numerous other religious groups that take a stronger stance against war.
War is inevitable, and neutrality is unsustainable without protection from others. The only reason Jehovah’s Witnesses exist it that Christians fought wars against other religious groups for centuries. God is described in the Bible as a God of War, demanding the genocide of other nations, and Jewish soldiers murder all but virgins, that could be kept for procreation. (Scritpure)
Voting and Politics
Watchtower claims Jehovah’s Witnesses are separate from the world because the remain politically neutral by being not being involved in politics. This is shockingly hypocritical.
- Executive - General administration of state bureaucracy
- Legislative - Create and maintain laws
- Judiciary - Court system for interpretation and application of the law
Whilst all three tiers are critical to the governing of a country, the Watchtower appears to be against the Executive aspect more-so than the Judiciary and Legislative functions. However, whilst against influencing the Executive function through the election of representatives, they have not shied away from political lobbying or use of the Judiciary.
The one area they do not become involved in is running for government. At one time voting was banned, but even that was softened. (Watchtower) It is also a baseless concept, as the Bible contains examples of people that followed Jehovah that were politicians. SEE https://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/politics.php
Reasoning From the Scriptures highlighted the 6 main reasons Watchtower uses to claim they are unique and as proof of being the only true religion. Each of these are questionable. Jesus said that “love identifies his followers.” John 13:35 By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.”
Watchtower relates this to their stance against war. This is not only simplistic, it does not cover the concept of love. Jehovah’s Witnesses look after each other, but are not known for being loving, as they do not have charities, schools or hospitals. Jesus parable of the good Samaritan showed love was to all, whilst the love of Jehovah’s Witnesses is insular, and withdrawn from anyone considered worldly or that leaves the religion.
Watchtower also relates love to their preaching. Not only are Jehovah’s Witnesses not unique in preaching, their message is far from one of love. The New Testament says sin is cancelled by death and Jesus’ ransom pays the entry to heaven. This is far from Watchtower’s message that “the good news of god’s kingdom” is that billions will die at Armageddon, with only Jehovah’s Witnesses surviving.
Jehovah’s witnesses are not unique, and the way they identify themselves as the true religion does not have merit. Are there other ways to test they are the true religion? One way is to check if what they have predicted has come true. In this regard numerous predictions have been made for over a century, and 100% of these have proven to be wrong. See 1880s.
How about doctrine? Watchtower doctrine has changed dramatically and regularly, dismissed this as light getting brighter. DOCTRINE Think through such reasoning. Watchtower leaders claim their teachings were wrong because God was lying to his followers.
When Watchtower produces a list that identifies they alone as true, it can appear compelling. Do not be swayed by such clever marketing without examining other points of view. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not unique, and a range of reasons have proven them not to be the truth.
Written Aug 2020.
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2021