The Jehovah's Witnesses was begun by Charles Taze Russell in 1872. He had difficulty in accepting the doctrine of eternal damnation and so came to deny this teaching of the Bible. He also came to reject the Trinity, the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit. When he was 18, Russell organized a Bible class in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1879 it was his desire to popularize his ideas. He co-published The Herald of the Morning magazine with its founder, N. H. Barbour. By 1884 Russell controlled the publication and renamed it The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom. He also founded Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society (now known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society - WTBTS). The first edition of The Watchtower magazine was only 6,000 copies each month. Today the Witnesses' publishing complex in Brooklyn, New York, pump out 100,000 books and 800,000 copies of its two magazines daily.
After the death of Russell on Oct. 31, 1916, a Missouri lawyer named Joseph Franklin Rutherford took over the presidency of the Watch Tower Society, which was known then as the International Bible Students Association. In 1931 he changed the name of the organization to "The Jehovah's Witnesses." Succeeding leaders have been Nathan Knorr, Frederick Franz, Milton Henschel, and Don A. Adams. Today the religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents.
Jehovah's Witnesses are best known for their door-to-door preaching, distribution of literature such as The Watchtower and Awake!, and for their refusal of military service, saluting the flag, and blood transfusions. They do not observe Christmas, Easter, birthdays, or other holidays and customs they consider having pagan origins incompatible with Christianity.
The Jehovah’s Witness religion has made a number of predictions about the end of the world. The first was 1914 – they based their prediction on prophecies from the Book of Daniel. After the end did not come, they changed the meaning of the prediction and stated that it was the date that Jesus would begin to rule invisibly. Some other years that the group have predicted the end of the world to come are: 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, etc. (see Deu 18:20-22)
Here are some of the major aberrant teachings of the Jehovah Witnesses (JWs):
- TRINITY: JWs find it difficult to worship “a three-headed God.” They call Jesus a “mighty god,” but not the Almighty God— Jehovah. (See Gen 1:26; Mat 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14)
- DEITY OF CHRIST: JWs teach Jesus was created by God and that He had been the archangel Michael in heaven before He came to Earth. Their translation of John 1:1 from their New World Translation says the Word (Jesus) was “a” god. (See Mat 1:23; John 8:58; John 20:28; Phil 2:6; Col 2:9; Titus 2:13; Rev 1:8)
- BODILY RESURRECTION OF JESUS: As for Jesus’ resurrection, the JWs insist that Christ did not rise bodily from the dead, but only as a spirit who looked as if He were a body. (See John 20; Rom 1:3-4; 1 Cor 15)
- CHRIST’S FULL ATONEMENT: Man is saved through works and perfect obedience to Jehovah—by being and doing exactly what the WTBTS teaches. (See Eph 1:7; Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:5)
The next time you hear a knock on the door don’t feel intimidated. Remember Jesus died for the JWs too!