The easiest way to treat the doctrinal system of this cult is to present its denials of evangelical Christianity.
Doctrinal denials include the:
- Denial of the Trinity;
- Denial of the deity of Christ (Arian view);
- Denial of the Personality of the Holy Spirit (viewed as “God’s active force”);
- Denial of man’s immortal soul (It should be noted that scripturally “immortality” applies to man’s future body. Orthodoxy uses immortality as a term to explain that man’s soul or spirit continues to exist after death);
- Denial of the Biblical view of the Atonement (Christ’s death is viewed by the Witnesses as that of only a perfect man and as a “corresponding ransom”); Christ is the mediator only for the 144,000;
- Denial of the bodily resurrection of Christ (the Witnesses teach that He rose a spirit creature as Michael the archangel and materialized bodies on various occasions in order to be seen by His disciples);
- Denial of salvation by faith in Christ alone; a two class system of salvation – 144,000 in heaven, and the great crowd on a paradise earth;
- Denial of salvation outside their organization;
- Denial of the “born again” experience for all (this experience they say is just for 144,000 of the Witnesses);
- Denial of the eternal punishment of the lost (claiming annihilation is their fate);
- Denial of the bodily, visible return of Christ (Christ “returned” invisibly in 1914 and there was an invisible “rapture” in 1918).
Other Characteristic Doctrines
- The Bible cannot be understood today without the Society;
- Blood transfusion is rejected; if a Witness received one willingly it would result in his eternal death;
- Witnesses refuse to serve in the military and to salute the flag; to salute the flag is an act of idolatry;
- Holidays and celebrations, such as Christmas, Easter and birthdays, are rejected as pagan in origin.
The printed page has been one of the most effective tools of the Witnesses. As of August 15, 1991, their two semi-monthly magazines, The Watchtower and Awake! had publication figures of 15.29 million and 13 million respectively. The Watchtower magazine is the “theological” publication of the Society. The publication of one or more books each year, with a first printing of millions of copies, have a real impact.
The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures was completed in 1961. Dr. Hoekema agrees with what many others have said concerning this version:
“Their New World Translation is by no means an objective rendering of the sacred text into modern English, but is a biased translation in which many of the peculiar teachings of the Watchtower Society are smuggled into the text of the Bible itself” (Anthony Hoekema, The Four Major Cults, pp. 238, 239) . Greek scholar, Dr. Robert Countess wrote a well-documented and thorough critical analysis of their New World Translation in which he concluded, “(It) must be viewed as a radically biased piece of work. At some points it is actually dishonest. At others it is neither modern nor scholarly” (The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New Testament, p. 93)
The Witnesses also have two Greek interlinear New Testament texts. The older work is The Emphatic Diaglott, translated by Benjamin Wilson, a Christadelphian with no credentials in Greek.
The other is The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, published in 1969, combines the Westcott and Hort Greek text with the Society’s translation and an improved text of the New World Translation.
Both works clearly reveal a doctrinal bias.
All movements have a program of some kind to bring in the converts. It was William Schnell, author of Thirty Years a Watch Tower Slave, who clearly explained the Witnesses’ “seven-step program.”
- Get literature into the hands of people through house-to-house or other outreach.
- Follow up with a “back call” to determine and encourage interest.
- Try to arrange a “book study,” using the Society’s latest books.
- Get the person showing interest to come to the congregational “book study.
- Bring those showing interest to the “Watchtower study.”
- Encourage attendance at the “Service meeting” and the “Theocratic Ministry” school. These two meetings train the Witnesses in their outreach program.
- The last step is the dedication of the life to Jehovah in baptism.
Watchman Fellowship, Inc., 1996.