Jehovahs Witness Essay

This essay has a total of 3183 words and 12 pages.

Jehovahs Witness

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses are a people known widely throughout the world. They are well-dressed
people who come knocking at your door on different occasions offering religious literature
for sale or trying to introduce their beliefs through carefully prepared conversation.
People young, old, rich, poor, well educated and non-educated have embraced them. Their
enthusiasm as proclaimers of God's Kingdom has impressed even their harshest critics.
Their love toward one another makes some non-witnesses hope and pray that more people
would act in that manner. Yet, some may still wonder, who really are the Jehovah's
Witnesses? What is their history, their practices and their beliefs? Why are they the most
attacked new religious group today? Even many former group members have written books or
created web sites that project a negative perspective on the Jehovah's Witnesses. Due to
the fact that this group has such a large following, it is not surprising that they would
be attacked or their faith be denounced. It has been proven that the bigger in numbers of
a group, the more controversial the group, and the larger the tension between them and
society. Also, the more individuals who belong to a group, the more individuals there are
who will denounce that faith and become active apostates. These apostates publish books
and establish web sites proclaiming the wickness of the group to whose teachings they once
adhered. When looking at it with this point of view, it seems natural that the Jehovah's
Witnesses would be heavily criticized. However, the fierceness of attack is still
frightening. My thesis is that based on the questionable characteristics and backgrounds
of the Jehovah's Witnesses leaders and teachings, this criticism are not unfounded.
Information on the teaching of the religion and the leaders themselves can be found in the
following books: Jehovah's Witnesses, Teachings of Jehovah Witnesses, Crisis of
Conscience, What You Need to Know About Jehovah's Witnesses, Counting the Days to
Armageddon, and Jehovah's Witnesses: Answered Verse by Verse.

In order to examine the controversies we must examine their history, organization,
practices and their beliefs. We must first start at the beginning at the leadership of the
Jehovah's Witnesses with its founder Charles Taze Russell. The Allegheny, Pennsylvania boy
had been reared in the Reformed faith of the Covenanters. At first he took their doctrines
seriously, especially the doctrine of hell. "However, when Russell found himself unable to
answer certain questions of a sceptic, he, himself, passed over into a frigid unbelief. It
was then that he met the Seventh-day Adventists, and his faith in Christianity, and
especially in the Second Advent, was restored."1

Russell had no formal Bible training, but borrowed and built upon various teachings that
were popular at the time. In 1879 Russell started his own magazine (now known as the
Watchtower) to promote his doctrines. Russell's sensational end of time predictions drew
many people and the organization grew. An example of this would be Russell's prediction
that in 1874 the second coming of Christ would come. This prediction he borrowed from N.
H. Barbour who believed that Christ would return invisibly to the work in 1874 and that
1914 was the year the world would be destroyed and the Millennium would begin. The
Millennium is a 1,000-year period, beginning after Armageddon, when Christ will rule over
the earth. During this time, the dead will be resurrected, humankind will attain
perfection and paradise will be restored. Russell wrote a new Bible for the followers of
his day, which he claimed came to him directly from God. Russell claimed that to read and
understand the Bible you needed an interpreter. He claimed to be the only one with the
truth and outwardly condemned all other Christian religions. This caused other ministers
to work at exposing Russell's false teaching and his questionable character. One such
minister was Reverend J. J. Ross, who published a pamphlet revealing that Russell never
attended a higher school of learning, knew nothing of philosophy, systematic or historical
theology, and was totally ignorant of the biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek. Russell
sued Reverend Ross for defamation of character but lost his suit when he perjured himself
when he lied under oath about his knowledge of the Greek language. In the end Russell
admitted the statements by Reverend Ross were true. Russell's domestic life was far from
perfect. In 1897 he was separated from his wife, and in 1913 Mrs. Russell brought suit for
divorce on four grounds. The most serious charge was the charge of adultery. He then tried
to defraud his former wife of her alimony. The scandal threatened to destroy the movement.
Again in 1913 Russell sued "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle" for libel when the paper reported
that Russell attempted to sell ordinary wheat at an outrageous price of $60 a bushel by
claiming it was "Miracle Wheat". Russell again lost his suit.

In spite of his questionable character, people continued to be attracted to Russell's
prophecy and his dramatic warnings "that the year 1914 would mark the over throw of human
government and the full establishment of the kingdom of God on earth."2 The year of Jesus
Christ's invisible return (his Second coming). When 1914 came and went Russell changed the
date to 1915. With Russell's death in 1916 his followers were left doubting and
disillusioned by his failed predictions.

Russell's successor, J. F. Rutherford, followed his leader in matrimonial infidelity, but
he held his problems more private knowing the consequences of publicity for the leader of
the Jehovah's hosts. He also used the threat of Armageddon to intimidate the members of
the Jehovah Witnesses. He predicted that in 1915, God would destroy churches and then by
1920 every kingdom would be swallowed up in anarchy. He taught that the only way to escape
judgment and destruction was to join the Watchtower organization. This motivated Witnesses
to work hard selling Rutherford's books and other Watchtower literature. Again the
prediction failed, so Rutherford set a new date of "1925 predicting that select Old
Testament saints including Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would rise from the grave and come to
live in San Diego."3 The Watch Tower Society built a Spanish mansion call Beth Sarim to
house these saints. However, until the saints arrived, Rutherford moved into the mansion.
Throughout the Great Depression Rutherford drove an expensive new car while Witnesses sold
Watchtower books and

pamphlets door to door and for a salary of $10 to $15 a month. In 1942, six years after
Rutherford's death the saints had still not arrived so the Jehovah Witnesses sold Beth
Sarim.

The third major era was under the leadership of Nathan H. Knorr. The new focus was to
train Jehovah Witnesses in the interpretation of the Bible. A new Bible was published to
support these interpretations thus additional changes in Bible interpretation and doctrine
occurred. Under Knorr the membership of Witnesses grew from 105,000 to about 2.2 million.

From 1960 to 1966 the organization's growth rate slowed. At this point the Watchtower
again introduced a new date for the end of the world and Frederick W. Franz who became the
leader of the Watchtowers Society after the death of Knorr introduced it in a book. He
concluded, "that in 1975 human history would end and the thousand-year reign of Christ
would begin."4 Membership grew by the thousand until 1975 came and went. False predictions
created doubts and concern among Jehovah Witnesses members. Some members left the group
but the organization leaders refuses to admit they were wrong. They excused their errors
by attributing them to human fallibility.

Even President Franz's nephew Raymond left the group and in his book "Crisis of
Conscience" writes why the Watchtower Society cannot be God's sole channel on earth.

Today, the leaders of the Jehovah Witnesses area made up of a group of men who head an
organization called the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and meet weekly to discuss
up-coming issues. This small group holds absolute authority over 5.2 million members. A
president who rules for life heads the Society. Their headquarters is located in Brooklyn,
New York. The headquarters is called Bethel, which means "House of God." There are five
committees, The Service Committee, Writing Committee, Publishing Committee, Teaching
Committee and the Chairman's Committee. The Chairman's Committee assists the governing
body in decision-making. The district and circuit overseers are below the committees. They
accompany Witnesses to home meeting and they visit within the congregations at least twice
a year. The congregations meet five times a week in what they call Kingdom Halls. The
elders or overseers lead the congregations. Across the globe, 100 branch offices print
Bibles, pamphlets and publish two magazines (Watchtower and Awake) semi monthly. These are
mailed to each member of the Jehovah Witnesses. The Watchtower and Bible Tract Society is
financed through self-imposed tithes, aside from the money that is earned from the sell of
publications.

The Jehovah Witness movement seems successful all over the world. They can be found in 232
countries ranging from Albania to Zimbabwe. Only 19% of all Jehovah Witnesses live in the
United States, 20% live in Western Europe and 25% in Latin America. Although Jehovah
Witnesses beliefs come from the Protestant and Adventist tradition, they do hold many
beliefs that set themselves apart. These cracks in their beliefs add to the controversy of
their religion. The following are some key beliefs that make them different:

There is only one True God called Jehovah. The Jehovah Witnesses teach that Jehovah, the
name of the one True God, corresponds only to God the Father. The Jehovah Witnesses deny
that Jesus is God and that the Holy Spirit is a person. They do not believe in the Trinity
Continues for 6 more pages >>




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