You are on page 1of 49

Controversies regarding Jehovah's

Witnesses
 

Jehovah's Witnesses have beliefs and practices that are commonly


regarded as controversial by mainstream Christians for their doctrines that
differ from mainstream Christianity, by governments for their refusal to
participate in 'patriotic' activities and by the general public for their beliefs
about blood transfusions and their treatment of members who "disassociate".
The most prominent divergences from mainstream Christianity are in regards
to their disputing the doctrines of the Trinity and hell. Many believe that their
version of the Bible, the New World Translation, has several errors when
compared to original Greek and Hebrew as well as other widely accepted
translations.

Fast Facts on Jehovah's Witnesses

Date founded
1879

Place founded
Pittsburgh

Founder
Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916)

Adherents
6.4 million practicing members in 2003 {1}
Headquarters
Brooklyn, New York

Main location
USA

Major sects
none

Sacred text
New World Translation of the Scriptures

Other texts
The Watchtower; Awake!

Original language
English

Clergy/leaders
Elders

Organization
Body of elders supervises a congregation of up to 200 members.
About 20 congregations form a circuit, 10 circuits form a district.
Highest authority is governing body of elders at Brooklyn headquarters. {2}
Meeting place
Kingdom Hall

Theism
Strict monotheism

Jesus
The Son of God, God's first creation

Ultimate reality
Jehovah God

Human nature
Sinful since Adam

Purpose of life
Live forever after death instead of being annihilated

How to live
Live morally and in accordance with Jehovah's commandments, spread the
good news of the Kingdom to others.

Afterlife
144,000 elect will reign in heaven and have spirit bodies. Other Witnesses will
live forever on a restore paradise on earth. All others will be annihilated. Hell
does not exist. {3}
Symbols
The watchtower. Cross rejected as a pagan symbol.

Major holidays
Memorial of Christ's death, celebrated annually. All Christian or other
religious-based holidays are rejected as unbiblical and pagan.

Ethics
Divorce only in cases of adultery, no premarital sex, no homosexuality. {4} No
gambling or drinking to excess. Against abortion. {5}

Practices
No blood transfusions, no celebration of non-JW holidays, no use of crosses
or other religious images. Baptism of initiation, worship once per week, strong
focus on evangelism.

Doctrinal differences
Jehovah's Witnesses have a number of doctrines that differ from those of
mainstream Christianity (Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and
Protestantism). Some of these doctrines differ on points which are
considered to be of central importance; others are relatively minor. The
table below shows a comparison of a number of doctrines of Jehovah's
Witnesses vis-à-vis those of mainstream Christianity which are
considered to be controversial, and of major importance.
These Witness beliefs are typically considered by mainstream Christians
to be blasphemous or heretical in nature. For this reason, many Christian
denominations consider these beliefs to place Jehovah's Witnesses
outside of true Christianity, often labeling them as a cult in the sense of a
non-Christian religion.
Mainstream Christian teaching
(Roman Catholic, Eastern Corresponding Jehovah's
Orthodox and Protestant Witnesses teaching
churches)[1]

Nature of God

God is a unity of three equal


persons, the Father being God, the
The Father of Jesus, Jehovah, is
Son being God, the Holy Ghost
the only true God.[2]
being God, but there is only one
God. (see Trinitarianism)

Jesus (the Son) is God in the flesh.


During his life on earth he was both Jesus is God's Son, but not God
fully God and fully human. He is the Almighty.[3]
eternal and equal in power to God.

The Holy Spirit is a person of the The holy spirit[4] is God's


Trinity. The Holy Spirit is eternal impersonal, "active force", always
and equal in power to God. subject to his will.[5]

Jesus

Jesus is God's firstborn Son; he


has divine nature but he is not
equal to God. Jesus was the "angel
Jesus is God's Son. He is God in of Jehovah" in Exodus 23:20-22,
the flesh. archangel Michael[6], the Word, or
Logos, as well as
Apollyon/Abaddon, mentioned in
Revelation 9:11.[7]

Jesus was nailed to a torture stake.


The religious significance given to
Jesus was crucified on a cross.
the instrument of Jesus' execution
and torture is a heathen heritage.[8]
Jesus' fleshly body was not
Jesus' fleshly body was
resurrected; he was resurrected as
resurrected.
a spirit.

The return of Christ to the earth will The presence of Christ began
be physical, and has not yet invisibly in 1914, and has been
occurred. ongoing since then.[9]

Death/Afterlife

The soul is the person himself,


composed of the "dust of the
ground" plus the "breath of life"; the
dead exist only in God's memory,
Man is composed of a mortal body
their future lies in the resurrection,"
and an immaterial, immortal soul.
either to immortality in heaven, or to
everlasting life on earth.;[10] only
144,000 Christians are bestowed
immortality in heaven.

There is no spiritual afterlife


immediately following death, except
for the 144,000, who are
There is immediate afterlife for all
immediately resurrected as spirit
mankind in heaven, hell or (for
persons and taken to heaven;
Roman Catholics) purgatory.
those who died before 1918[11] were
not resurrected to heaven until that
year. There is no purgatory.

There is no literal torment.[12] Those


who have committed an
The unrighteous (or those not "born
unforgivable sin (such as Judas)
again") will be tormented in hell for
experience 'Gehenna' (eternal
eternity.
destruction or extinction) at
death.[13]

Judgement and Salvation

Judgement for all of mankind


Those who are resurrected will be
occurs following the 2nd
judged on the basis of the works
resurrection of Jesus (Judgement
done after their resurrection.[14]
day), or each person is judged
immediately following his or her
death.

The original and unchangeable


purpose of God for mankind is to
live forever on a paradise earth.
Only 144,000 Christians are born
again and become priests and
kings in heaven with Christ, in order
All who are saved (born again) will to contribute to the fulfillment of
spend eternity in heaven with God. God's purpose about earth.[15] With
the exception of those in Gehenna
(judgment of annihilation), all who
have died (both righteous and
unrighteous) will be resurrected
with the potential to live forever on
a paradise earth.[16]

Worship and Christian ethic

Icons or statues can be used as Use of icons or statues in worship


means of worship. (Catholic and is a kind of idolatry and contrary to
Orthodox) Christian law.

Jesus said his followers would not


Since God is the ruler of earth, fight because his kingdom is "no
Christians can use political and part of this world". [17] Christians
military means in order to make must be neutral in political and
society better. military strifes. Satan is the "ruler of
the world." [18]

Forced celibacy is spoken against


in the Bible, though voluntary
celibacy can be rewarding. [19] [20]

Celibacy, asceticism, scheduled Fasting is a personal decision, not


fasting and monasticism result in a
measure of holiness (Catholic and a requirement. [21] Monasticism is a
Orthodox) pagan concept. [22] Jesus and his
followers never deliberately afflicted
themselves in an ascetic manner.
[23][24]
New World Translation

Translation Committee and Anonymity


The New World Translation Committee's refusal to reveal its members'
identities or credentials has brought much criticism of the New World
Translation.[25] It is not unusual for a Bible edition to refrain from listing
translators. But the NWT is unique by its publisher agreeing not to verify
translators or translators' credentials when requested privately.[26] Author
Ron Rhodes recognizes the NWT Translation Committee's preference to
remain anonymous, but he states the desire for anonymity is not
surprising "in view of the broad censure this translation has received from
renowned linguistic scholars". Commenting on those whom Raymond
Franz named as NWT translators, Rhodes states "it quickly became
apparent that the committee was completely unqualified for the task".[27]
On the other hand, Bruce Metzger, reviewing the New World Translation
of the Christian Scriptures, has said: "On the whole, one gains a tolerably
good impression of the scholarly equipment of the translators."[28]. Of the
NWT as a work of translation, Dr. James Penton writes of the translators
request for anonymity, "this has very little to do with the quality of the
translation itself which deserves to be examined on the basis of its own
merits rather than on who and what its translators were or were not".[29]

Theological bias
The New World Translation has been criticized as either adding or
selectively translating certain portions of the Bible to conform to
Jehovah's Witness doctrine. The criticism of "theological bias" concerns
mostly matters of the divinity of Christ (i.e., that Jesus was God), but also
concerns other matters such as the eternity of the soul or the return of
Jesus to the earth.[30] Some scholars have defended the translation, to
some degree.[31]
The most frequently criticized rendering is that of the first verse of the
Gospel of John:

John 1:1 (original Greek)


εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος
en arche en ho logos, kai ho logos en pros ton theon, kai theos en ho logos
in beginning was the word, and the word was with the god, and god was the word

John 1:1 (Most English translations - e.g., KJV, NIV, NASB)


"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was God."

John 1:1 (NWT, emphasis added)


"In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was a god."[32]

Jehovah's Witnesses insist that the latter rendering is the literal


translation of the passage, and that the original language indicates not
that Jesus ("the Word") is "God", but that he is "godlike" or "divine" or "a
god".[33][34] Some scholars state that "a god" is a possible literal translation
of the passage[35][36]. The Witnesses point out that similar uses of the
indefinite article are accepted in the King James and other versions in
places like Acts 20:28.[37][38][39] Some scholars also state that a literal
translation does not equate persons, but assigns a quality (godlike nature
or essence) to Jesus.[40]
A larger number of scholars, however, have disagreed with the
Witnesses' translation of this passage[41], describing the latter rendering
as "a frightful mistranslation", "monstrous", "intellectually dishonest",
"totally indefensible", and "evidence [of] an abysmal ignorance of the
basic tenets of Greek grammar".[42]
Other New World Translation renderings that form major points of
contention include Jeremiah 29:10, Luke 23:43, John 8:58, Acts 20:28,
Colossians 1:15-20, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8 and Revelation 3:14.
The New World Translation rendering of the Greek word proskuneo has
also been a source of criticism. The word is rendered "worship" in almost
all occurrences in the New World Translation. However, when the word is
used in reference to Jesus, it is consistently translated "do obeisance".[43]
However, Jehovah's Witnesses has explained that the Greek word
proskuneo is NOT consistently translated "worship". They have insisted
this word is used when someone pay obeisance to superior authorities,
e.g. in Mat.18:26. They also insisted that the context must be considered
to determine whether proskyneo refers to obeisance solely in the form of
deep respect or obeisance in the form of religious worship.[44]

Use of the name "Jehovah"


The New World Translation contains the name "Jehovah" 237 times
in the New Testament. The Greek manuscripts from which the New
Testament is translated do not contain the name "Jhvh". (The NWT
of the Old Testament also contains the name "Jehovah" 145
instances more than it is contained in the extant Hebrew manuscripts
from which the Old Testament is translated.)
Jehovah's Witnesses insist that using the name "Jehovah" in the
New Testament is justified by its appearance in Hebrew in the
original scripts, and the name "Jehovah" in the Old Testament is
restored the original reading, but critics insist that it was
subsequently replaced by the Greek words for "God" and "Lord"
some time around or before the fourth century when translated into
Greek. The evidence for this is the subject of debate (see
Tetragrammaton in the New Testament).

Blood
Jehovah's Witnesses reject transfusions of whole allogeneic
blood and its primary components (red blood cells, white blood
cells, platelets and plasma), and transfusions of stored
autologous blood or its primary components. As a doctrine,
Jehovah's Witnesses do not reject transfusion of whole
autologous blood so long as it is not stored prior to surgery. (E.g.
perioperative extraction and transfusion of autologous blood.)
This religious position is due to a belief that blood is sacred and
represents life in God's eyes. Jehovah's Witnesses understand
scriptures such as Leviticus 17:10-14 (which speaks of not
partaking in any blood) to include taking blood into the body via a
transfusion.[45] Controversy has stemmed, however, from what
critics state are inconsistencies in Witness policies on blood.

Fractions and components


In the case of minor fractions derived from blood, each individual
is directed to follow their own conscience on whether these are
acceptable.[46][47] This is because it is difficult to define at what
point blood is no longer blood. As a substance is broken down
into smaller and smaller parts it may or may not be considered
the original substance. Therefore some of Jehovah's Witnesses
personally choose to accept the use of blood fractions and some
do not.
Such a stance of dividing blood into major components and
minor fractions rather than either accepting all blood or requiring
all blood components to be poured out onto the ground has led
to criticism from organizations such as the Associated Jehovah's
Witnesses for Reform on Blood.[48] Witnesses respond that blood
as the fluid per se is not the real issue. They say the real issue is
respect and obedience for God's personal property- blood.[49][50]
That the matter blood is not at stake, is seen in the fact that
members are allowed to eat meat which will still have some
blood left in it. As soon as blood is drained from an animal, the
respect has been shown to God and then a person can eat the
meat even though it will contain a small amount of blood.
Jehovah's Witnesses view of meat and blood thus is different
than the Jewish view that goes to great lengths to remove any
little trace of blood.[51]
According to author Kerry Louderback-Wood, the Watchtower
Society misrepresents the scope of allowed fractions. If taken
together, they "total the entire volume of blood they came
from".[52] An example of this can be seen in blood plasma, which
consists of 90-96% water. The remaining amount consists mainly
of albumin, globulins, fibrinogen and coagulation factors. These
four fractions are allowable for use, but only if taken separately.
Critics have likened this to banning the eating of a ham and
cheese sandwich but allowing the eating of bread, ham and
cheese separately.[53] When considering such an analogy it is
important to keep in mind that Jehovah's Witnesses do not
accept the whole blood or any of its major components. And if a
fraction, "makes up a significant portion of that component" or
"carries out the key function of a primary component" it may be
objectionable to them.[54]
The human body contains between 2-3 kg of leukocytes (white
blood cells), but only about 3% of these are in the blood. White
blood cells are considered a major component of blood and
therefore forbidden. Human breast milk contains about 500,000 -
5 million white blood cells per millilitre,[55] however this is not
forbidden.

Storing and donation


Jehovah's Witnesses strictly reject the storage of blood as being
against the direction from the Bible to pour blood out onto the
ground. It is due to this understanding that the use of stored
autologous blood is prohibited – that is the storage of one's own
blood before surgery in the case of an emergency.
In a similar fashion Jehovah's Witnesses accept blood fractions
from donated blood but view the donation of blood to be
unbiblical. This has led to criticism of perceived contradictory and
inconsistent policies.[56]
Legal considerations
Regardless of the medical considerations, Jehovah Witnesses
advocate that physicians should uphold the right of a patient to
choose what treatments they accept or do not accept (though a
Witness is subject to religious sanctions if they exercise their
right to choose a blood transfusion).[57] Accordingly, US courts
tend not to hold physicians responsible for adverse health effects
that a patient incurred out of his or her own requests.[58]
However, the point of view that physicians must, in all
circumstances, abide by the religious wishes of the patients is
not acknowledged by all jurisdictions (for one example, see
France).
The situation has been controversial, particularly in the case of
minor children. In the United States, many physicians will agree
to explore and exhaust all non-blood alternatives in the treatment
of children at the request of their legal guardians. However,
some state laws require physicians to administer blood-based
treatment to minors if it is their professional opinion that it is
necessary to prevent immediate death or severe permanent
damage.
An essay entitled, "Jehovah's Witnesses, Blood Transfusions,
and the Tort of Misrepresentation", found in the Autumn issue of
Baylor University's Journal of Church and State, published
December 13, 2005, discusses the potential vulnerability of
Jehovah's Witnesses' legal corporations to significant claims for
compensation because of the religion's possible
misrepresentation of the medical risks of blood transfusions.
According to the essay, constitutional guarantees of freedom of
religion do not remove the legal responsibility that every person
or organization has regarding misrepresenting secular fact.

Animal blood
The Watchtower has stated that "Various medical products have
been obtained from biological sources, either animal or human ...
Such commercialization of ... blood is hardly tempting for true
Christians, who guide their thinking by God's perfect law. Our
Creator views blood as sacred, representing God-given life ...
blood removed from a creature was to be poured out on the
ground, disposed of."[59]

Attitude towards other religions


It has been suggested that "one of the more common criticisms
of Jehovah's Witnesses over the years has dealt with their
outspoken denunciations of other faiths, religious leaders and
clergymen."[60] In the 1930s and 1940s, the publications of
Jehovah's Witnesses were described as "notoriously anti-
Catholic",[61] including such images as a semiclad harlot (the
Roman Catholic Church) reeling drunkenly into fire and
brimstone. Witnesses during the time were openly critical of
churches and clergy who they deemed were coconspirators in
the war effort. Many highly critical pamphlets were written at the
time.
The book entitled Enemies, published by the Watchtower Bible
and Tract Society in 1938, included some of the more direct
denunciations of primarily the Catholic Church but also the
Protestants and the Jews. It includes references to the Catholic
Church as "the old harlot" who has a "bloody record… many
crimes… a filthy record". The same book is quoted as saying,
"Today the so-called 'Protestants' and the Yiddish clergy openly
co-operate with and play into the hands of the Roman Catholic
Hierarchy like foolish simpletons and thereby aid the Hierarchy to
carry on her commercial, religious traffic and increase her
revenue… the hierarchy takes the lead, and the simpletons
follow… poor simpletons."[62]
Since World War II, publications of Jehovah's Witnesses have
not included the same level of attack against the churches of
Christendom, but do continue to view all religions except
Jehovah's Witnesses as being included in "Babylon the Great,
the world empire of false religion", and are represented as the
harlot riding the wild beast in Revelation 13. Jehovah's
Witnesses continue to denounce other religions and refuse to
participate in any interfaith relations. Publications continue to
contain elements of what the Catholic League for Religious and
Civil Rights consider to be anti-Catholic sentiments. An example
cited by the 1998 Report on Anti-Catholicism included a
publication depicting a person kneeling in prayer before a statue
of the Virgin Mary, with the caption, "Some worship idols. God
says you must not use idols or images in worship..."[63] The
Watchtower organization teaches that "Only Jehovah's
Witnesses… have any Scriptural hope of surviving the
impending end of this doomed system dominated by Satan the
Devil."[64]

Race
The other side of the seeming racial harmony of the Watchtower
can be traced back to their early history. Although the
Watchtower claims to believe that all races are biological
brothers, all descendants of Adam and Eve, they have for
decades officially taught the doctrine of biological inferiority of
the black race (Bergman, 1984). Formal segregation of blacks
was once rigidly enforced in their organization, both during the
rule of their first president, C.T. Russell (1852-1916) and their
second, Joseph F. Rutherford (1869-1942) and even until the
late 1950's:
Recognizing that it meant either the success or the failure of
the...[Photo] Drama as respects the whites, we have been
compelled to assign the colored friends to the gallery... Some were
offended at this arrangement. We have received numerous letters
from the colored friends, some claiming that it is not right to make
a difference, others indignantly and bitterly denouncing [us] as
enemies of the colored people. Some ... told us that they believe it
would be duty to stand up for equal rights and always to help the
oppressed.... We again suggested that if a suitable place could be
found in which the Drama could be presented for the benefit of the
colored people alone, we would be glad to make such
arrangements, or to cooperate with any others in doing so[65]

Being viewed as inferior supposedly made a person a better


servant the Watchtower then taught, and consequently the
official Watchtower publication The Golden Age magazine (now
called Awake!) commented that:
..the curse which Noah pronounced upon Canaan was the origin of
the black race. Certain it is that when Noah said, "Cursed be
Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren," he
pictured the future of the Colored race. They have been and are a
race of servants, but now in the dawn of the twentieth century, we
are all coming to see this matter of service in its true light and to
find that the only real joy in life is in serving others; not bossing
them. There is no servant in the world as good as a good Colored
servant, and the joy that he gets from rendering faithful service is
one of the purest joys there is in the world[66]

Russell taught that those privileged to live in the "new world"


which is just upon us would also be physically returned to
humankind's original bodily state, including our "original" skin
color and language, which the Watchtower taught was white and
Hebrew:
A little while, and the Millennial kingdom will be inaugurated, which
will bring restitution to all mankind--restitution to the perfection of
mind and body, feature and color, to the grand original standard,
which God declared "very good," and which was lost for a time
through sin, but which is soon to be restored by the powerful
kingdom of the Messiah[67]

This teaching is discussed in more detail in the Watchtower's


answer to the question "Can The Ethiopian Change His skin
color?" The Watchtower Society's official response to this
question is:
No. But... what the Ethiopian cannot do for himself God could
readily do for him. The difference between the races of men...
have long been arguments against the solidarity of the human
family. The doctrine of restitution has also raised the question.
How could all men be brought to perfection and which color of skin
was the original? The answer is now provided. God can change
the Ethiopian's skin in his own due time... Julius Jackson, of New
Frankfort, Montana, a negro boy of nine years, began to grow
white in September, 1901, and is now fully nine-tenths white. He
assures us that this is no whitish skin disease; but that the new
white skin is as healthy as that of any white boy, and that the
changed boy has never been sick and never has taken
medicines[68]

This case history, the Watchtower argues, demonstrates that


God can and will change "Ethiopians" (blacks) into whites in the
New World. The Watchtower taught that the black race needs to
become white because blacks are descended from Ham, whose
special "degradation" is mentioned in Gen. 9:22, 25. Actually, Mr.
Julius Jackson was likely suffering from Vitiligo, a skin disease
involving a loss of melanocytes which affects about one percent
of all Americans. The Watchtower adds that Noah prophetically
declared:[69]
...that Ham's characteristics which had led him to unseemly
conduct ... would be ... inherited by his son,--and prophetically he
foretold that this degeneracy would mark the posterity of Canaan,
degrading him, making him servile. We are not able to determine
to a certainty that the sons of Ham and Canaan are negroes; but
we consider that general view as probable as any other
Statements by the Watchtower Society
The Watchtower Society has made a number of statements in its
publications since its inception that have resulted in criticism,
particularly from mainstream Christians and former Jehovah's
Witnesses. These critics have highlighted a number of
controversial statements, changes of doctrine, and failed
predictions made by the Watchtower Society. Lists of
controversial statements, such as those found below, are found
in a number of books[70] and on numerous websites.[71]

Unfulfilled predictions
See also main article Eschatology of Jehovah's Witnesses
Predictions such as the following have appeared in various
Watchtower publications:[72]

1907: Armageddon will culminate in the year 1914.[73]


1917: In 1918, God would begin to destroy churches
"wholesale" and church members by the millions.[74]
1922-1923: The resurrection of the dead would occur in
1925.[75] In preparation for the 1925 date, the Watchtower
Society acquired a property in California and built a mansion
on it. The property was to house people such as Abraham,
Moses, David, and Samuel, whom they thought would be
resurrected to life in 1925.
1938: In 1938, Armaggedon was too close for marriage or
child bearing.[76]
1941: There were only "months" remaining until
Armageddon.[77]
1942: Armageddon was "immediately before us."[78]
1969: Human existence would not last long enough for young
people to grow old; the world system would end "in a few
years". Young Witnesses were encouraged not to bother
pursuing tertiary education for this reason.[79]
1969: Christ's thousand-year reign would begin in 1975.[80]
There was a considerable amount of related speculation in
Watchtower publications in the years leading up to 1975.[81]
1984: There were "many indications" that "the end" was
closer than the end of the 20th century.[82]
1914 (generation): It was taught that Armageddon would take
place before the death of those who were alive in 1914. This
teaching was abandoned in 1996; Jehovah's Witnesses
currently believe that no certain year can be established for
Armageddon to occur.[83][84]
A number of Christian apologists have argued that in making
predictions about the future, the Watchtower Society have acted
as a prophet,[85] often citing Watchtower Society publications that
use the word "prophet" in referring to the organization.[86][87] The
Watchtower Society itself has condemned others for making
false predictions about the future, stating that such people were
"guilty of false prophesying".[88] Apologists argue that the
Watchtower Society does not represent God, based on
Deuteronomy 18:22: "When a prophet speaks in the name of the
LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a
word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it
presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him." (ESV)
The Watchtower Society has stated as early as 1908, "We are
not prophesying; we are merely giving our surmises....We do not
even [assert] that there is no mistake in our interpretation of
prophesy and our calculations of chronology. We have merely
laid these before you, leaving it for each to exercise his own faith
or doubt in respect to them."[89] They have also stated that they
do not have the gift of prophecy.[90] More recently they have
defended themselves against claims of "false prophesying", by
saying that they do not claim to be inspired prophets,[91] and that
their predictions have never been made "in the name of
Jehovah" but rather are given only as an interpretation of
Scripture.[92]
However, the Watchtower Society has also made statements
asserting their predictions to be definite. "The date of the close of
that 'battle' is definitely marked in Scripture as October, 1914. It
is already in progress, its beginning dating from October,
1874."[93]; "Surely there is not the slightest room for doubt in the
mind of a truly consecrated child of God that the Lord Jesus is
present and has been since 1874"[94] (notably, this was written in
1924, indicating that 1914 was not taught as the beginning of
Christ's presence until a later period, despite contrary claims by
Jehovah's Witnesses that "The Watchtower has consistently
presented evidence to honesthearted students of Bible prophecy
that Jesus' presence in heavenly Kingdom power began in
1914"[95]); "We see no reason for changing the figures — nor
could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God's
dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the
date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble. We
see no reason for changing from our opinion expressed in the
view presented [earlier]"[96]
For more on the topic see Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of
Jehovah's Witnesses by M. James Penton, professor emeritus in
the Department of History at the University of Lethbridge and
former Jehovah's Witness ISBN 978-0802079732

Changes of doctrine

History of Eschatological Doctrine

Last Christ Judgment


Christ's Resurrection Great
Days as of
Return of 144,000 Tribulation
Begin King Religion

1879– 1914, 1915,


1799 1874 1878
1920 1918, 1920
1920–
1925
1925

1925–
1878
1927

1878

1927–
1914
1930
within a
generation
of 1914
1930–
1933

1933–
1966

1966–
1918 1975
1975

1919

within a
1975– 1914
generation
1995
of 1914

1995-
imminent
2007

2008 indeterminate

The Watchtower Society has made a number of changes to


its doctrines since its inception. The controversy surrounding
this issue is that the Watchtower Society has said that:

People can only fully and accurately understand the Bible


and God's purposes through their association with the
religion.[97]
Witnesses are encouraged to attain to "oneness"[98] and
thus not to "harbor private ideas when it comes to Bible
understanding",[99] or be suspicious of their teachings, but
rather to have confidence in what they print.[100]
A number of changes in chronology have occurred,
particularly in regards to dates for important events such as
Armaggedon, and the return of Jesus to the Earth (see
table, right). For example, prior to 1914, it was said that
Armageddon would end in 1914. In a 1915 edition of the
same book, it was said that Armaggedon would end that
year. Today, Witnesses are taught to expect Armageddon
imminently.
Other changes in interpretation of the Bible have been noted
by critics. These have included statements about the Bible
itself;[101] identification of persons in the Bible;[102] whether or
not people receive a second chance after death;[103] and
perhaps most controversially, their standing on blood
transfusions.[104] The standing of the Watchtower Society on
other matters such as the acceptability of vaccinations[105] or
tertiary education[106] has also changed over time.

Statements about itself


Critics of the Watchtower Society (or of Jehovah's
Witnesses generally) often cite statements such as
those listed above alongside other published statements
that the Watchtower Society has made about itself;
namely that:

The Watchtower Society is the "one and only


channel" used by God to continually to dispense
truth[107]
The Watchtower Society is "directed by Jehovah"
and "under the direct supervision of Christ Jesus"[108]
and that it "alone, in all the earth, is directed by
God's holy spirit or force"[109]
Critics have used such statements to question the
credibility of the Watchtower Society. The Watchtower
has responded multiple times to issues regarding critics
claims - mostly to the claim that the Watchtower
presents itself as inspired. See one statement below:
Jehovah's Witnesses, in their eagerness for Jesus'
second coming, have suggested dates that turned out to
be incorrect. Because of this, some have called them
false prophets. Never in these instances, however, did
they presume to originate predictions 'in the name of
Jehovah.' Never did they say, 'These are the words of
Jehovah.' The Watchtower, the official journal of
Jehovah's Witnesses, has said: "We have not the gift of
prophecy." (January 1883, page 425) "Nor would we
have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible."
(December 15, 1896, page 306) The Watchtower has
also said that the fact that some have Jehovah's spirit
"does not mean those now serving as Jehovah's
witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the
writings in this magazine The Watchtower are inspired
and infallible and without mistakes." (May 15, 1947,
page 157) "The Watchtower does not claim to be
inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic." (August 15,
1950, page 263) "The brothers preparing these
publications are not infallible. Their writings are not
inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers.
(2 Tim. 3:16) And so, at times, it has been necessary,
as understanding became clearer, to correct views.
(Prov. 4:18) "—February 15, 1981, page 19.
Family integrity & freedom of mind

Critics of Jehovah's Witnesses (e.g., Randall Watters,


Timothy Campbell, David Grosshoeme, Kaynor
Weishaupt, Jan Groenveld) object to Witness policy and
behavior where, in their view, the integrity of family
relationships and the capacity of members to exercise
freedom of mind is impacted.
Others believe that some members of anti-cult
movements have impinged on the religious freedom of
Jehovah's Witnesses through coercive deprogramming
and discrimination.[110]
Witnesses teach that "freedom to make decisions [is] to
be exercised within the boundaries of God's laws and
principles", [111] and that "only Jehovah [is] free to set the
standard of what is good and bad."[112] As mentioned
above, however, it is believed that such principles can
only be understood through association with Jehovah's
Witnesses.[113] In practice, members may face sanctions
if they do not abide by regulations set forth by the
leadership, which presents itself as the channel through
which God instructs members about "what is good and
bad".
Religious scholar Sergei Ivanenko stated, "It would be a
serious mistake to represent the Religious Organization
of Jehovah's Witnesses as a religion whose leadership
forces its rank and file believers to engage in one form
of activity or another, or place upon them strict
restrictions or directives. Jehovah's Witnesses strive to
live in accord with Bible principles on the basis of an
individual, voluntary choice. . . . This also applies in full
measure to preaching." [114] James Beckford, an expert
of the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses and a professor at
the University of Warwick, England, mentioned, "It is
important for each of them to exercise free moral
agency in choosing to study the Bible and to live in
accordance with their interpretation of its message." [115]

Treatment of members who


disassociate
If a member of Jehovah's Witnesses does not
comply with the organisation's interpretations, they
can be excommunicated, termed disfellowshipping.
This involves being shunned by all members of the
religion, including any family members that do not
live under the same roof. Due to the social nature of
the religion, being shunned can isolate a member in
a very powerful way and can be devastating if
everyone in a member's social circle participates in
the shunning. Jehovah's Witnesses say that
disfellowshipping is a scripturally-documented
method to protect the congregation from the
influence of those who practice serious wrongdoing.
[6] The Encyclopedia of Religion notes: "Any
community claims the right to protect itself against
nonconforming members who may threaten the
common welfare. In a religious setting this right has
often been reinforced by the belief that the sanction
[of excommunication] affects one's standing before
God."[116]
Prior to 1981, if a member disassociated from the
religion but was not disfellowshipped, the practice
of shunning was not required and normal contact
could be maintained. A policy change in 1981
required that all who were considered to have
disassociated by their actions were to be treated in
the same way as a member who had been
disfellowshipped for gross wrongdoing. The new
policy meant that congregation members are not
informed whether a person was being shunned due
to "disfellowshipping" or "disassociation", or on
what grounds. Many of these changes were
precipitated by events surrounding Raymond Franz,
a former governing body member.
Critics state that fear of being shunned and family
break-up causes people to stay who might
otherwise freely leave the religion.[citation needed] The
only way to officially leave the religion is to write a
letter requesting to be disassociated or to be
disfellowshipped, but both entail the same set of
prohibitions and penalties. Critics contend the
judicial process involved, due to its private and
nearly autonomous nature, contradicts the
precedent found in the Bible and the organizations'
own teachings[117] and can be used in an arbitrary
manner if there is consensus among just a few to
so use their authority.[118]

Reporting of sexual abuse


Critics have accused Jehovah's Witnesses of
employing organizational policies that make the
reporting of sexual abuse difficult for members.
For a report of abuse to be considered "proven"
(to the degree that would merit congregational
judicial discipline), there need to be two
witnesses or a confession by the accused (only
in cases where there is no physical evidence of
the abuse).[119][120]
Some victims of sexual abuse also assert that
when reporting abuse they have been directed
to maintain silence to avoid embarrassment to
both the accused and the organization.[121][122]
The official policy on child protection for
Jehovah's Witnesses, which discusses the
procedures for reporting child sexual abuse,
states that elders obey all legal requirements
for reporting sex offenders, including reporting
uncorroborated or unsubstantiated allegations
where required by law and that they are to
discipline pedophiles. It also emphasizes the
right of the victim to notify the authorities if they
wish to do so.[123] A Religious Tolerance.org
website article on the handling of child sexual
abuse cases acknowledges this, stating, The
WTS recommends that the victim's parent or
guardian — or even the accused person
themselves — report the abuse to the police.

Use of Deception
Among their unique doctrines is a teaching
called Theocratic War Strategy that justifies
deception under circumstances.[124] Essentially
this doctrine teaches it is appropriate to
withhold the truth from "people who are not
entitled to it" and deceive if necessary to
protect the religion's activities since these are
deemed "God's will".
The doctrine condemns lying as "untruths told
for selfish reasons". However it draws a
distinction between selfish deception and
deception to further "God's will". According to
the doctrine, one is lying and the other is not,
though both are deception. Specifically the
teaching stipulates that when under an oath to
tell the truth, such as in a court of law, that it
would be improper to deceive.[125]
Controversy over this doctrine is stirred by
detractors asserting Jehovah's Witnesses apply
this doctrine by lying, for example, in a court of
law.[126]

Internet use
The Watchtower Society has instructed
Witnesses to be careful in the use of the
Internet because of the availability of what
Witnesses consider "harmful" information. This
can include information that is objectionable on
moral grounds such as pornography, but also
information considered to be 'apostate'. The
word 'apostate' is assigned special meaning by
Witnesses, to refer to individuals who leave
their religion over doctrinal matters rather than
the broader sense of any person who changes
religious or political alliance.[127]
A 2000 issue of The Watchtower stated, "Some
apostates are increasingly using the internet to
spread false information about Jehovah's
Witnesses. As a result, when sincere
individuals do research on our beliefs, they
may stumble across apostate propaganda.
Avoiding all contact with these opponents will
protect us from their corrupt thinking."[128] While
Witnesses define the existence of "harmful"
information, critics define all accurate
information valid. What Witnesses consider
"apostate propaganda", critics consider merely
an alternative viewpoint, which must be
considered in order to claim one has a rounded
viewpoint. Witnesses teach that Scriptures
such as 2 John 8-11 apply to such "apostates"
and thus they must, "look out" for themselves
and never "receive" such teachings in any
form.[129]
Critics have stated that this warning against
Internet use is an example of "milieu
control"[130] in which the society controls its
members by restricting negative information
regarding the society.[131] Jehovah's Witnesses
respond to such criticism by stating that branch
libraries, accessible by thousands of Witnesses
and visitors, include books that speak
negatively about Jehovah's Witnesses.[132]

Education
This quotation is typical of many that express
the worry that education and exposure to
college influences will lead one to seek a
high-paying career and the material things that
money can buy. This would mean one would
put less emphasis and time into the work of
preaching Watchtower doctrine and distributing
their literature. Parents are cautioned about
contributing to this attitude, too.
Young people, for example, are easily
influenced by the materialistic outlook of the
world around them, and especially is this true if
their parents are inclined to value highly the
ability to command a big salary in the business
world. As a result, they may set their hearts on
the education that is offered by the world's
institutions of "higher learning." Their desire is
not simply to learn a trade so that they can work
with their hands and not be a burden on others;
no, they want to be in an upper income bracket.
But what is wrong with that? Jesus frankly said
that it would be more difficult for a rich man to
get into the Kingdom than for a camel to get
through the eye of a sewing needle. Rather
than being content with "sustenance and
covering," those who devote themselves to
getting a "higher education" usually want to be
able to enjoy the "rest of the things" that money
can buy.[133]

The following quotation from a 1969


Watchtower article hints at how strongly the
Society opposed higher learning. Making
something of yourself is here classed as
"Devil's propaganda." Notice the continuing
theme that time is too short to waste it on
education. They, claim that the only work with a
future is Watchtower service.
Many schools now have student counselors
who encourage one to pursue higher education
after high school, to pursue a career with a -
future in this system of things. Do not be
influenced by them. Do not let them "brainwash"
you with the Devil's propaganda to get ahead,
to make something of yourself in this world. The
world has very little time left! Any "future" this
world offers is no future! ... Make pioneer
service, the full-time ministry, with the possibility
of Bethel or missionary service your goal. This
is a life that offers an everlasting future![134]
The Watchtower Society even encourages
young people to spend less time on their
normal high school education. The following is
one of several articles they wrote that suggests
shortening the school day to allow more time
for the Society's interests.
There are activities available that may be more
beneficial than working. These activities include
reading and studying outside of school and
taking on the responsibilities of unpaid
volunteer work or community service.' Nina, for
example, performs a most valuable community
service after school as a full-time minister of
Jehovah's Witnesses. She says: "I worked it out
with my guidance counselor to have a short
school day so I would get out of school near
noon. Monday through Wednesday I go out in
the public preaching work. I love doing it. I just
love it." Would your schedule and personal
circumstances permit you to do likewise?
Developing "Godly devotion" in this way would
no doubt prove to be far more beneficial than
working at some job![135]

All this disapproval of a college education has


now been replaced with a conditional approval
of higher education. In The Watchtower of
November 1, 1992, both study articles and one
short reading article were on the subject of
education. The first study article, pages 10
through 15 entitled "Education in Bible Times,"
was devoted to a discourse on education in Old
Testament times, with the last two paragraphs
covering New Testament times. The second
study article, pages 15 through 22 covered
educational needs in our modern times. The
quotations below come from this second article.
The third article, on pages 21 and 22,
discussed the educational background of the
apostle Paul.

This seems, therefore, to be an appropriate


time to consider the Christian's attitude toward
secular education. What Bible principles bear
on this subject? First, in most countries proper
submission to "Caesar" requires Christian
parents to send their children to school.... A
second principle involved is that Christians
should be able to support themselves, even if
they are full-time pioneer ministers. If married, a
man should be able to provide properly for his
wife and any children that may be born, with a
little extra to give to those in need and to
support the local and worldwide preaching
work. How much education does a young
Christian need in order to respect these Bible
principles and meet his Christian obligations?
This varies from country to country. By and
large, however, it seems that the general trend
in many lands is that the level of schooling
required to earn decent wages is now higher
than it was a few years ago. Reports received
from branches of the Watch Tower Society in
different parts of the world indicate that in many
places it is difficult to find jobs with decent
wages after completing simply the minimum
schooling required by law or in some countries
even after finishing secondary or high school.
What is meant by "decent wages"? It does not
indicate highly paid jobs. Webster's Dictionary
defines "decent" in this context as "adequate,
satisfactory." What might be termed "adequate,"
for instance, for those who wish to be pioneer
ministers of the good news? Such ones
generally need part-time work to avoid putting
"an expensive burden" upon their brothers or
their family. Their wages might be termed
"adequate," or "satisfactory" if what they earn
allows them to live decently while leaving them
sufficient time and strength to accomplish their
Christian ministry. What is often the situation
today? It has been reported that in some
countries many well-intentioned youngsters
have left school after completing the minimum
required schooling in order to become pioneers.
They had no trade or secular qualifications. If
they were not helped by their parents, they had
to find part-time work. Some have had to accept
jobs that required them to work very long hours
to make ends meet. Becoming physically
exhausted, they gave up the pioneer ministry.
What can such ones do to support themselves
and get back into the pioneer service? ...
Christians should regard education as a means
to an end. In these last days, their purpose is to
serve Jehovah as much and as effectively as
possible. If, in the country where they live,
minimal or even high school education will only
allow them to find jobs providing insufficient
income to support themselves as pioneers, then
supplementary education or training might be
considered. This would be with the specific goal
of full-time service. ... "We have quite a number
who are studying and at the same time have
been able to arrange their schedules to pioneer.
Generally they become better publishers as
they are more studious, provided they do not
become overly ambitious in worldly pursuits."
The last remark should give us reason to
reflect. The purpose of the extra schooling,
where this seems necessary, must not be lost
sight of or changed into a materialistic goal. ... If
Christian parents responsibly decide to provide
their children with further education after high
school, that is their prerogative. The period of
these studies would vary according to the type
of trade or occupation selected. For financial
reasons and in order to enable their children to
get into the full-time service as quickly as
possible, many Christian parents have chosen
for them short-term study programs in
vocational or technical schools. In some cases
youths have needed to be apprenticed to some
trade but always with a full life of service to
Jehovah as the goal. ... This magazine has
placed emphasis on the dangers of higher
learning, and justifiably so, for much higher
education opposes the "healthful teaching" of
the Bible. Further, since the 1960's, many
schools of advanced learning have become
hotbeds of lawlessness and immorality. "The
faithful and discrete slave" has strongly
discouraged entering that kind of environment.
It must be admitted, however, that nowadays
youngsters meet up with these same dangers in
high schools and technical colleges and even in
the workplace. [136]
United Nation Department of
Public Information association
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the
United Nations is one of the 'superior
authorities' that exist by God's permission
(Romans 13:1, 2, NWT), and that it
presently serves a purpose in maintaining
order, but they refuse to give political
support or to consider UN as the means for
the achievement of peace and security.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only
God's Kingdom will bring true peace.
Jehovah's Witnesses also believe that UN
is the "image of the wild beast", that is, the
representative of the global political system
referred to in Revelation 13:1-18, and the
second fulfillment of the "abominable thing
that causes desolation" from Matthew
24:15, that is, the political means that will
be used for the devastation of the
organized false religion on a world
scale,[137][138] and that, like all other political
powers, it will be destroyed and replaced
by God's heavenly Kingdom.[139] Jehovah's
Witnesses have denounced other religious
organizations for having offered political
support to the UN.[140]
On October 8, 2001 an article was
published in the British Guardian
newspaper questioning the Watchtower
Bible and Tract Society's registration as a
non-governmental organisation (NGO) with
the United Nations Department of Public
Information and accusing the Watchtower
Society of hypocrisy.[141]
Within days of the article's publication, the
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
submitted a formal request for
disassociation, removing all association
with the United Nations Department of
Public Information,[142] and released a letter
stating that the reason for becoming
associated with the United Nations
Department of Information (DPI) was to
access their facilities, and that they had not
been aware of the change in language
contained in the criteria for NGO
association.[143] The purpose of
membership is to "promote knowledge of
the principles and activities of the United
Nations". At the time NGO association was
sought, "the organization agreed to meet
criteria for association, including support
and respect of the principles of the Charter
of the United Nations".[144]

References
1. ^ See this page for a general overview of the beliefs of various mainstream
Christian denominations.
2. ^ Official link
3. ^ Official link Reasoning From the Scriptures, pp. 136-137, 282-283;
4. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses do not capitalize "Holy Spirit".
5. ^ Official link Reasoning From the Scriptures, pp. 136-137, 361;
6. ^ What Does the Bible Really Teach? pp. 218, 2005, Appendix, "Who is
archangel Michael?"
7. ^ Revelation - Its Grand Climax at Hand, p.148.
8. ^ http://www.watchtower.org/e/rq/article_11.htm. See also New World
Translation#Rendering of σταυρός (staurós)
9. ^ What Does the Bible Really Teach? pp. 215, 2005, Appendix, "1914-the
important year of Bible prophecy"
10. ^ "Reasoning From The Scriptures" p. 199 - p. 208 "Jehovah's Witnesses" –
" they do not exist except in God's memory, so hope for their future life lies in
a resurrection from the dead."
11. ^ Watchtower 6/15/79 p. 29 par. 10 "10 The spiritual resurrection of the
"dead in Christ" in the spring of 1918"
12. ^ "Revelation …Climax" 40 p. 293 par. 26 Crushing the Serpent’s Head "26
We have already noted that “the lake of fire and sulphur” could not be a literal
place of torment. … par. 27 "What befell the two cities is called “the judicial
punishment of everlasting fire.” (Jude 7) Yet, those two cities did not suffer
everlasting torment. Rather, they were blotted out, obliterated for all time,…"
13. ^ Insight on the Scriptures, Vol.1 pp. 905-6.
14. ^ "What Does the Bible Really Teach? ,2005, Appendix "Judgement Day-
What day?"
15. ^ The Watchtower, 2/1/1986, p. 17, ¶ 17
16. ^ What Does the Bible Really Teach? ,2005, Appendix "What is Sheol and
Hades?"
17. ^ "Mankind's Search for God" chap. 15 p. 344 par. 2 A Return to the True
God "And Jesus himself explained why his disciples did not fight to deliver
him, saying: "My kingdom is no part of this world"
18. ^ Watchtower 12/1/06 p. 6 " Indeed, Satan, not Christ, is "the ruler of the
world" and "the god of this system of things." (John 14:30; 2 Corinthians 4:4)
This explains why Jesus will soon eliminate all human governments"
19. ^ Awake 6/8/98 p. 17 … doctrines that come from the devils . . . They will say
marriage is forbidden."—1 Timothy 4:1, 3, Jerusalem Bible."
20. ^ Awake! 6/8/98 p. 17 Is Celibacy a Requirement for Christian Ministers?
"Honorable marriage is a blessing from God. Enforced celibacy has turned
out to be spiritually damaging. Freely chosen singleness, on the other hand,
while not essential for holiness or salvation, has proved to be a rewarding
and spiritually satisfying way of life for some.—Matthew 19:12.*** g98 6/8 p.
17 Is Celibacy a Requirement for Christian Ministers?"
21. ^ Watchtower 11/15/96 p. 7 Does God Require Fasting? "Choosing to fast in
certain circumstances is an individual decision. … We should not want to
"appear righteous to men… the Bible shows that God neither requires that
we fast nor prohibits us from fasting
22. ^ Watchtower 9/15/53 p. 551 Is Monastery Life Christian?
23. ^ Awake 10/8/97 p. 21 "Jesus and his disciples were not ascetics. They
endured various trials and tribulations, but these tribulations were never self-
inflicted.
24. ^ Watchtower 10/15/77 p. 618 par. 10 "Jesus was a man who pleased God
in every respect... But even though he was perfect he was not an ascetic"
25. ^ Penton J, Apocalypse Delayed Second Edition, University of Toronto
Press, 1999, pp. 173-174. James Penton is disfellowshipped from the
Watchtower organization.
26. ^ A Closer Look at the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, The
Jehovah's Witnesses Bible, North American Mission Board SBC, 2000
27. ^ Rhodes R, The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions, The Essential
Guide to Their History, Their Doctrine, and Our Response, Zondervan, 2001,
p. 94
28. ^ "The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures", The Bible
Translator, 15/3 (July 1964), p. 151.
29. ^ Penton J, Apocalypse Delayed Second Edition, University of Toronto
Press, 1999, pp. 173-174.
30. ^ Robert M. Bowman Jr, Understanding Jehovah's Witnesses, (Grand
Rapids MI: Baker Book House, 1992); Ankerberg, John and John Weldon,
2003, The New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses, accessible
from this site, which quotes a number of scholars regarding theological bias
of the New World Translation; Samuel Hass stated: "While this work
indicates a great deal of effort and thought as well as considerable
scholarship, it is to be regretted that religious bias was allowed to colour
many passages." Journal of Biblical Literature, December 1955, p. 283
31. ^ Alan S. Duthie stated that the "Jehovah's Witnesses' NWT, which is
certainly not 'filled with the heretical doctrines' ...even though a few
aberrations can be found. ...Some have to condemn out of hand any version
made by Jehovah's Witnesses...because they must be full of heresies...It is
true that there are some heretical doctrines to be found in NWT (eg. the
incoherent polytheism in Jn.1:1,... but the percentage of the whole Bible thus
affected... does not reach even 0.1% of the whole, which is very far from 'full'.
How To Choose Your Bible Wisely, Alan S. Duthie. pp. 30, 216. Jason
BeDuhn stated "While it is difficult to quantify this sort of analysis, it can be
said the NW[T] emerges as the most accurate of the translations compared."
Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New
Testament, 2004 p.163; J. D Phillips stated, "You have done a marvelous
work..."; Allen Wikgren referred to it as "Independent reading of merit";
Benjamin Kedar , " I find my feeling repeatedly confirmed that [the OT]
reflects an honest endeavor to achieve an understanding of the text that is as
accurate as possible....Giving evidence of a broad command of the original
language ... I have never discovered in the New World Translation any
biased intent to read something into the text that it does not contain."; S.
Maclean Gilmore, "The New Testament edition was made by a
committee....that possessed an unusual competence in Greek." The Andover
Newton Quarterly, September 1966 Vol. 7, #1 p. 25,26; C. Houtman , in
discussing translator bias stated "the [NWT] of the Jehovah's Witnesses can
survive the scrutiny of criticism" Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift #38 1984
p.279-280; William Carey Taylor stated the NT of the NWT contains
"considerable scholarship" The New Bible Pro and Con, 1955 p.75; Edgar
Goodspeed, Robert M. McCoy, Steven T. Byington, Alexander Thompson,
James Parkinson, and Thomas N. Winter also give favorable mention of the
NWT.
32. ^ http://www.watchtower.org/bible/ "In [the] beginning the Word was, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was a god."
33. ^ "[Some] translations use such words as "a god", "divine" or "godlike"
because the Greek word theos is a singular predicate noun occurring before
the verb and is not preceded by the definite article. This is an anarthrous
theos. The God with whom the Word, or Logos, was originally is designated
here by the Greek expression ο θεος, that is, theos preceded by the definite
article ho. This is an articular theos. Careful translators recognize that the
articular construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas
a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb points to a quality
about someone. Therefore, John's statement that the Word or Logos was "a
god" or "divine" or "godlike" does not mean that he was the God with whom
he was. It merely expresses a certain quality about the Word, or Logos, but it
does not identify him as one and the same as God himself." -"New World
Translation-With References", 6A pg. 1579.
34. ^ "At John 1:1 the New World Translation reads: "The Word was a god". In
many translations this expression simply reads: "The Word was God" and is
used to support the Trinity doctrine. Not surprisingly, Trinitarians dislike the
rendering in the New World Translation. But John 1:1 was not falsified in
order to prove that Jesus is not Almighty God. Jehovah's Witnesses, among
many others, had challenged the capitalizing of "god" long before the
appearance of the New World Translation, which endeavors accurately to
render the original language. Five German Bible translators likewise use the
term "a god" in that verse. At least 13 others have used expressions such as
"of divine kind" or "godlike kind". These renderings agree with other parts of
the Bible to show that, yes, Jesus in heaven is a god in the sense of being
divine. But Jehovah and Jesus are not the same being, the same God.—
John 14:28; 20:17." Watchtower, 1991 March 1 pg. 28.
35. ^ Murray J. Harris: "from the point of view of grammar alone, [it] could be
rendered 'the Word was a god'..." Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of
Theos in Reference to Jesus 1992 p.60; C.H. Dodd: "As a word-for-word
translation ['the Word was a God'] cannot be faulted..." New Testament
Translation Problems II BT 28, 1977, p.101-2; Jason BeDuhn: "A lexical
("interlinear") translation of the controversial clause would read: 'And a god
was the Word.' A minimal literal ("formal equivalence") translation would
rearrange the word order to match proper English expression: "And the Word
was a god". The preponderance of evidence, from Greek grammar, from
literary context, and from cultural environment, supports this translation"
Truth in Translation 2004, p. 132,
36. ^ C.H. Dodd: "The reason why [the Word was a god] is unacceptable is that
it runs counter to the current of Johannine thought, and indeed of Christian
thought as a whole." Technical Papers for The Bible Translator, Vol 28, No.
1, January 1977; Jason BeDuhn: "The NWT translation of John 1:1 is
superior to that of the other eight translation we are comparing. I do not think
it is the best possible translation for a modern English reader; but at least it
breaks with the KJV tradition followed by all the others, and it does so in the
right direction by paying attention to how Greek grammar and syntax actually
work." ibid, p. 133
37. ^ "United in Worship of The Only True God" chap. 2 p. 17 par. 11 "If
someone feels that it is wrong to use the indefinite article when translating
John 1:1, would he also want it left out at Acts 28:6 according to the King
James Version and others?"
38. ^ Awake! 4/22/05 p. 9 “Bible verses that in the Greek language have a
construction similar to that of John 1:1 use the expression “a god.” For
example, when referring to Herod Agrippa I, the crowds shouted: ‘It is a god
speaking.’ And when Paul survived a bite by a poisonous snake, the people
said: “He is a god.” (Acts 12:22; 28:3-6)"
39. ^ Watchtower 12/15/63 p. 763 "Among the various other ways in which the
New World Translation honors God is by keeping clear from trinitarian bias.
That is why it renders the controversial phrase of John 1:1, “The Word was a
god,” even as other translations put in the article “a” in rendering a like
passage at Acts 28:6, namely, “He is a god.” (New English Bible)"
40. ^ "and godlike sort was the Logos." Das Evangelium nach Johannes, 1978,
Johannes Schneider.
41. ^ Examples include Mantey, Julius, Depth Exploration in the New Testament
(NY: Vantage Press, 1980): "The apostle John, in the context of the
introduction to his Gospel, is pulling all the stops out of language to portray
not only the deity of Christ, but also his equality with the Father. He states
that the Word was in the beginning, that He was with God, that He was
God..."; Metzger, Bruce M., "Jehovah's Witnesses and Jesus Christ",
Theology Today (April, 1953), p. 75: "As a matter of solid fact, however, such
a rendering [the Word was a god] is a frightful mistranslation. It overlooks
entirely an established rule of Greek grammar which necessitates the
rendering, "…and the Word was God"."; Ankerberg, John & Weldon, John,
Jehovah's Witnesses and John 1:1 (Ankerberg Theological Research
Institute, 2005); Bruce, F.F. "Much is made by Arian amateur grammarians of
the omission of the definite article with 'God' in the phrase 'And the Word was
God.' Such an omission is common with nouns in a predicative
construction...'a god' would be totally indefensible." See this page or this
page for a more complete listing.
42. ^ "a frightful mistranslation" - Bruce M. Metzger; "monstrous" - Samuel J.
Mikolaski; "intellectually dishonest" - William Barclay; "totally indefensible" -
F. F. Bruce; "an abysmal ignorance..." - Paul L. Kaufman. See this page for a
more complete listing.
43. ^ For a comparative table see [1]
44. ^ Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, pg. 523-524
45. ^ "How Can Blood Save Your Life?" (1990). Watch Tower Bible and Tract
Society of Pennsylvania
46. ^ "Be guided by the Living God" (Jun. 15, 2004). The Watchtower
47. ^ "Questions from readers: Do Jehovah's Witnesses accept any minor
fractions of blood?" (Jun. 15, 2000). The Watchtower
48. ^ Associated Jehovah's Witnesses for Reform on Blood
49. ^ The Watchtower November 1, 1961 p. 669 Questions From Readers
50. ^ What Does The Bible Really Teach? 2005 P.128
51. ^ [2] [3]
52. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses, Blood Transfusions and the Tort of
Misrepresentation, Journal of Church and State Vol 47, Autumn 2005 p. 815
53. ^ Franz, Raymond. "In Search of Christian Freedom" - Chapter Nine. Atlanta:
Commentary Press, 1991. ISBN 0-914675-16-8. p.732.
54. ^ Awake! August 2006 box on P. 11
55. ^ Jackson, K. & Nazar, A. "Breastfeeding, the Immune Response and Long-
term Health", Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 106(4), 2006.
Available online.
56. ^ Franz, Raymond. "In Search of Christian Freedom" - Chapter Nine. Atlanta:
Commentary Press, 1991. Pbk. ISBN 0-914675-16-8. pp.732.
57. ^ Ivanhoe's Medical Breakthroughs - When Religion and Medicine Collide
58. ^ http://www.watchtower.org/library/hb/index.htm?article=article_07.htm
59. ^ The Watchtower (Feb. 1, 1997) p30
60. ^ Penton, James (1997). Apocalypse Delayed. University of Toronto Press.
ISBN 0-8020-7973-3
61. ^ United States Congress (1943). Declaring Certain Papers, Pamphlets,
Books, Pictures and Writings Nonmailable. Hearings Before a Subcommittee.
62. ^ Penton, James (1997). Apocalypse Delayed. University of Toronto Press.
ISBN 0-8020-7973-3
63. ^ http://www.catholicleague.org/1998report/miscellaneous1998.htm
64. ^ The Watchtower, 1 September, 1989 p. 19
65. ^ Watchtower, April 1,1914:110
66. ^ The Golden Age, July 24, 1929: 702
67. ^ Watchtower, April 1, 1914:110
68. ^ Zion's Watch Tower, February 15, 1904: 52-53
69. ^ Zion's Watch Tower, July 15, 1902:216
70. ^ e.g., Watters, Randall (2004) Thus Saith Jehovah's Witnesses, Common
Sense Publications; Gruss, Edmond (2001) Jehovah's Witnesses: Their
Claims, Doctrinal Changes, and Prophetic Speculation. What Does the
Record Show?, Xulon Press; Reed, David A. (1990) Index of Watchtower
Errors, 1879 to 1989, Baker Books
71. ^ e.g., The Watchtower Information Service; Quotes-Watchtower.co.uk;
Reexamine.Quotes. See also [4]
72. ^ See this page for a more complete listing
73. ^ Russell, C.T, The Time is At Hand, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society,
Inc., 1907 p. 101
74. ^ Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 7, 1917, p. 485.
75. ^ Watchtower, May 15, 1922; Sep. 1, 1922; Apr. 1, 1923; Millions Now Living
Will Never Die, 1925, p. 110
76. ^ Face the Facts, 1938, pp. 46-50
77. ^ Watchtower, Sep. 15, 1941, p. 288
78. ^ Watchtower, May 1, 1942, p. 139
79. ^ Awake!, May 22, 1969, p. 15
80. ^ The Approaching Peace of a Thousand Years (1969) (Watchtower
publication) Available online; see also [5]
81. ^ See, for example, Awake!, Oct. 8, 1966, pp. 19-20; Watchtower, Oct. 15,
1966, pp. 628-631; May 1, 1967 p. 262; May 1, 1968, p. 271; Aug. 15, 1968,
p. 494; Oct. 15, 1974, p. 635; May 1, 1975, p. 285. See this page (starting
about half-way down the page, beginning with "How Much Longer Will It
Be?") for full quotes.
82. ^ Watchtower, Mar 1, 1984, pp. 18-19
83. ^ United...worship book
84. ^ The Watchtower, August 15, 1996
85. ^ Waldeck, Val Jehovah's Witnesses: What do they believe?. Pilgrim
Publications SA. ISBN 1-920092-08-0; Buttrey, John M (2004). Let No One
Mislead You. iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-30710-8; see also some of the books
referenced at the start of this section, and the end of the article.
86. ^ "This "prophet" was not one man, but was a body of men and women…
Today they are known as Jehovah's Christian witnesses… Of course, it is
easy to say that this group acts as a "prophet" of God. It is another to prove
it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record. What does it
show?" The Watchtower, 'They Shall Know that a Prophet Was Among
Them', Apr. 1, 1972, p.197
87. ^ "Whom has God actually used as his prophet?... Jehovah's witnesses are
deeply grateful today that the plain facts show that God has been pleased to
use them. ... It has been because Jehovah thrust out his hand of power and
touched their lips and put his words in their mouths..." The Watchtower, Jan.
15, 1959, pp.39-41
88. ^ From Awake! Magazine: True, there have been those in times past who
predicted an 'end to the world,' even announcing a specific date. Some
have gathered groups of people with them and fled to the hills or withdrawn
into their houses waiting for the end. Yet, nothing happened. The 'end' did
not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was
missing? Missing was the full measure of evidence required in fulfillment of
Bible prophecy. missing from such people were God's truths and the
evidence that he was guiding and using them. (Awake!, Oct. 8, 1968, p. 23,
emphasis added)
89. ^ Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence January 1908 "Views
From the Watchtower"
90. ^ The Watchtower Jan. 1883, p. 425
91. ^ Watchtower, May 15, 1976, p. 297; Reasoning from the Scriptures, 1985,
p. 136
92. ^ Awake! Mar. 22, 1993, pp. 3-4
93. ^ The Watchtower, 15 January, 1892, page 1355
94. ^ The Watchtower, 1 January, 1924, p 5
95. ^ The Watchtower, 15 January, 1993, page 5
96. ^ The Watchtower, 15 July, 1894, page 1677
97. ^ Watchtower, Sep. 1, 1954, p. 529; Oct. 1, 1967, p. 587; Dec. 1, 1981, p.27;
Feb 15, 1981, p.19
98. ^ Ephesians 4:13 The Watchtower, Aug 1, 2001 p. 13
99. ^ Watchtower, Aug. 1, 2001
100. ^ Qualified, 1955, p. 156
101. ^ e.g., 1902: The Book of Ruth is not prophetic. (Watchtower Reprints
IV, p. 3110, Nov 15, 1902); 1932: The Book of Ruth is prophetic.
(Preservation, 1932, pp. 169, 175, 176)
102. ^ e.g., 1917: Apollyon is Satan (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 7, 1917)
1969: Apollyon is Jesus (Then Is Finished the Mystery of God, p. 232)
103. ^ See this page
104. ^ See this page
105. ^ See this site
106. ^ See this site
107. ^ Watchtower, Apr. 1, 1919; also Watchtower, May 15, 1933, pp. 154-
155; Jul. 15, 1960, pp. 438-439; Our Kingdom Ministry, Sep. 2002, p. 8
108. ^ Watchtower, Nov. 1, 1956, p. 666; Watchtower, Jun. 1, 1955, p. 333
109. ^ Watchtower, Jul. 1, 1973, p. 402
110. ^ CESNUR
111. ^ Worship the Only True God chap. 5 p . 43 par. 4 Freedom Enjoyed
by Worshipers of Jehovah
112. ^ The Watchtower June 1 p. 11 par. 7 A Free People but Accountable
113. ^ Watchtower, Sep. 1, 1954, p. 529; Oct. 1, 1967, p. 587; Dec. 1,
1981, p.27; Feb 15, 1981, p.19
114. ^ Expert Opinion, S. I. Ivanenko, p. 10 Golovinsky Intermunicipal
Court. Link to full Rebuttal JW-MEDIA
115. ^ Sworn Expert Opinion, prepared by Professor James Beckford,
University of Warwick, Coventry, England, November 1998, p. 2
116. ^ Encyclopedia of religion ed. Eliade M, New York Macmillan, 1987
117. ^ Matthew 18:17, "The local court was situated at the gate of a city.
(De 16:18; 21:19; 22:15, 24; 25:7; Ru 4:1) By "gate" is meant the open space
inside the city near the gate... as most persons would go in and out of the
gate during the day. Also, the publicity that would be afforded any trial at the
gate would tend to influence the judges toward care and justice in the trial
proceedings and in their decisions. (Insight on the Scriptures, Vol 1, p. 518)
118. ^ In Search Of Christian Freedom by Raymond Franz, 2002, and In
Search of Christian Freedom, pp.374–390 'The Misuse of Disfellowshipping',
by Raymond Franz
119. ^ Robinson, B.A (2005). "Jehovah's Witnesses (WTS) Handling of
Child Sexual Abuse Cases", Religious Tolerance.org Retrieved Mar 3, 2006.
120. ^ Tubbs, Sharon (Aug. 22, 2002), "Spiritual shunning", St. Petersburg
Times.
121. ^ "Another Church Sex Scandal" (Apr. 29, 2003). CBS News.
122. ^ Cutrer, Corrie (Mar. 5, 2001). "Witness Leaders Accused of
Shielding Molesters", Christianity Today.
123. ^ "Jehovah's Witnesses and Child Protection" (2003). Jehovah's
Witnesses Office of Public Information.
124. ^ The Watchtower, February 1, 1956, pp. 76-85
125. ^ The Watchtower, August 1, 1957, p. 285
126. ^ Bergman J, Lying in Court and Religion: An Analysis of the
Theocratic Warfare Doctrine of the Jehovah's Witnesses, Cultic Studies and
Review: An Internet Journal of Research, News and Opinion, 2002, Vol. 1,
No. 2
127. ^ "apostates have stopped feeding at Jehovah's table"; "To what have
the apostates returned? In many cases, they have reentered the darkness of
Christendom and its doctrines, such as the belief that all Christians go to
heaven. Moreover, most no longer take a firm Scriptural stand regarding
blood, neutrality, and the need to witness about God's Kingdom.", The
Watchtower, 1 July 1994, pp.10-12; also Reasoning from the Scriptures, p.36
128. ^ May 1 2000 Watchtower p.10.
129. ^ The Watchtower May 1, 2000 p.10 par. 10
130. ^ http://www.freeminds.org/psych/lifton2.htm David Grossoehme on
Lifton
131. ^ Cameron, Don (2005). Captives of a Concept pg 112-113. ISBN 1-
4116-2210-3
132. ^ Bethel catalogue 2000 Jehovah's Witnesses For example: The
Chaos of Cults by VanBaalen, Jan Karel and God is a Millionaire by
Mathison, Richard
133. ^ The Watchtower, February 1, 1967, pp. 75-76. Article entitled
"Fruitful Christians Manifest Godly Contentment", subheading "Do Spiritual
Interests Come First in Your Life?"
134. ^ The Watchtower, March 15, 1969, Article on pages 168-173 titled
"What Influences Decisions in Your Life?". Quote is from p. 171.
135. ^ Awake! magazine, November 22, 1990, article on pages 25-27 titled
"Will An After-school Job Help Me Grow Up?" Quote is from p. 27.
136. ^ Watchtower,November 1, 1992, pp. 16-20.
137. ^ "No Calamity Will Befall Us" (Subheading). (Nov. 15, 2001). The
Watchtower, p.19
138. ^ "Let the Reader Use Discernment", (Subheading "A Modern-Day
'Disgusting Thing'"). (May 1, 1999). The Watchtower, p 14
139. ^ "A World Without War-When?" Oct.1, 1991, pp.5 The Watchtower
140. ^ The Watchtower, 1 June, 1997, p. 17 par. 15: "In the first place, what
lies ahead for the world's false religions that have so often been extremely
friendly with the UN? They are the offspring of one idolatrous fountainhead,
ancient Babylon. Appropriately, they are described at Revelation 17:5 as
"Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of
the earth". Jeremiah described the doom of this hypocritical conglomerate.
Harlotlike, they have seduced earth's politicians, flattering the UN and
forming illicit relations with its member political powers."
141. ^ Bates, Stephen (Oct. 8, 2001) "Jehovah's Witnesses link to UN
queried", The Guardian
142. ^ Bates, Stephen (Oct. 15, 2001) "'Hypocrite' Jehovah's Witnesses
abandon secret link with UN", The Guardian
143. ^ Letter to Editor - The Guardian" (Oct. 22, 2001) Office of Pulic
Information
144. ^ Letter from United Nations DPI/NGO Resource Centre

Books Critical of Jehovah's Witnesses


Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses' by M. James
Penton. Penton, who is a former Jehovah's Witness and a professor
emeritus of history at University of Lethbridge, examines the history of
Jehovah's Witnesses, and their doctrines. Read selections from:
Apocalypse Delayed: the Story of Jehovah's Witnesses University of
Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-7973-3 (Canada, 1998) (Google book
search)
Wolves Among Sheep by James Kostelniuk. Harpercollins Trade Sales
Dept, ISBN-13: 978-0006391074
The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses by Heather and Gary Botting.
Both authors were raised Jehovah's Witnesses and are trained scholars.
In fact, the book is based on a doctoral dissertation by Heather Botting.
Read selections from: The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses
(Google book search) University of Toronto Press, ISBN-13: 978-
0802065452
The Truth Book: Escaping a Childhood of Abuse Among Jehovah's
Witnesses by Joy Castro, adopted as a baby and raised by a devout
Jehovah's Witness family. Read selections from: The Truth Book:
Escaping a Childhood of Abuse Among Jehovah's Witnesses (Google
book search) Published 2005 Arcade Publishing, ISBN 1559707879
Crisis of Conscience by Raymond Franz, a former Jehovah's Witness who
was a member of the Governing Body of the Watch Tower Society for nine
years. This book gives a detailed account of the authority structure,
practices, doctrines and decision-making practices Franz experienced
while serving on the Governing Body. Sample chapters online: 1, 9, 10,
11, 12. Publisher: Commentary Press. 420 pages. Hardback ISBN 0-
914675-24-9. Paperback ISBN 0-914675-23-0. 4th edition (June 2002)
The Gentile Times Reconsidered: Chronology & Christ's Return by Carl O.
Jonsson. Jonsson considers the origin of the belief that the Gentile Times
began in 607 B.C. and examines several lines of evidence and the
methodology for deriving it. ISBN 0-914675-06-0 Publisher: Commentary
Press (July, 1998, Fourth edition 2004)
Jehovah's Witnesses Defended by Greg Stafford. The author considers
himself one of Jehovah's Witnesses but has renounced affiliation with the
Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. This book reviews and thoroughly
explores the most common, and/or prevalent, criticisms made about
Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society.
http://elihubooks.com/books/
I Was Raised a Jehovah’s Witness by Joe Hewitt. Hewitt gives a frank and
compelling account of his life as a Jehovah’s Witness and his subsequent
persecution and excommunication after he decided to leave the Jehovah’s
Witness movement. Read selections from: I Was Raised a Jehovah's
Witness (Google book search) Published 1997, Kregel Publications,
ISBN:0825428769