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THEO 301 (Fa '16) T03 - Jehovah's Witnesses

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Hartmut Scherer

on 16 August 2016

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Transcript of THEO 301 (Fa '16) T03 - Jehovah's Witnesses


February 16, 1852
History of Jehovah's Witnesses
Charles Taze Russell
Charles Taze Russell, born in Pittsburgh, PA
Russell begins an independent Bible study;
2nd coming
of Christ
Begin of monthly publication of
Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence;
Zion's Watch Tower and Tract Society
was incorporated with Russell as president
Writes a series of books called
Studies in the Scriptures;
they form the basis for Jehovah's Witnesses theology
Russell died
power struggle;

Rutherford becomes the new president and continues Russell's authoritarian style
New eschatology
Followers of the Watchtower Society were now called
Jehovah's Witnesses
Rutherford died
Sources of Authority
(Partly adopted from "Jehovah's Witnesses" by Tal Davis at http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbnew.aspx?pageid=8589952841; retrieved Sept 16, 2012.
Jehovah's witnesses have
two sources of authority
1) The Bible
The Bible is considered the divinely inspired and infallible Word of God.
Biblical response:
2) The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
The WBTS's Governing Body is called "the faithful and discreet slave," . . . . It is therefore regarded as Jehovah God's only channel of accurate biblical interpretation in the world today. A requirement for salvation "is that we be associated with God's channel, his organization" [the WBTS]. Thus, there is no salvation apart from the WBTS.
Joseph Franklin Rutherford
"Jehovah's witnesses devoted more than 1.9 billion man-hours distributing Watchtower literature . . ."
- conducted 8,490,746 Bible studies
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jehovah%27s_Witnesses; retrieved August 16, 2016 and https://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/2016-yearbook/2015-grand-totals/.
August 2015
From the 2016 Yearbook:
- total number baptized: 260,273
- 8.2 million
publishers (members who are
actively involved in preaching)
New World Translation

is regarded as the best translation because "the translators held so closely to what is in the original Bible languages"
(Reasoning, p. 279).
The Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. The NWT
reflects WBTS
, especially its bias
against the deity of Jesus

and the historic doctrine of the
(*Watchtower Bible and Tract Society)
Biblical response:
All people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord are saved by grace through faith and are born again and are capable of understanding the Scriptures through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. No single person, church, or religious organization can claim exclusive possession of the source of salvation or authority to interpret the Bible.
Witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses
Adopted from "Jehovah's Witnesses" by Tal Davis at http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbnew.aspx?pageid=8589952841; retrieved Sept 16, 2012.
Factors that influenced the emergence of Jehovah's Witnesses
"Zeitgeist (the spirit of the times) has had a profound influence on the millenarian outlook at any given time." (Stanley N. Gundry)
Populism (protest movement) offered fertile soil for Jehovah's Witnesses
> 24 study groups
Marriage to Maria Francis Ackley
Russell requested a separation
"evil servant" - Maria's new interpretation of Matt. 24:45-47
Maria filed for legal separation
“Miracle Wheat” scandal
Date-Setting Eschatology
(he) "faithful and wise servant" (Matt. 24:45)
(she) secretary-treasurer
- publicly defending him
(he) incompatible
(she) wanted to publish her personal opinions
she published a tract (account of her relations with her husband)
claimed that the wheat would yield five times more than any other brand of wheat
the end of 6,000 years of human history (1874)
Christ's active rulership began (1914; keystone doctrine)
10. Pray and trust the Holy Spirit to lead you.

1. Have a clear understanding of your faith and the Bible.
2. Acquire a basic knowledge of Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs
and practices.
3. Make a definite plan for the witnessing encounter and take the initiative.
4. Initially, talk about personal concerns to establish a friendly, courteous, and sincere relationship
with the Jehovah's Witness. Gradually move on to a discussion of theological issues.
5. Be prepared to cite and explain specific biblical passages supporting Christian doctrines.
6. Define your terms clearly and ask the Jehovah's Witness to do so also.
7. Focus the discussion on the primary issue of the person and work of Christ. Stress the need for a
personal relationship with Him.
8. Share your personal testimony of God's grace and your faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
9. Present the basic plan of salvation and encourage the Jehovah's Witness to make a decision.
"Battle of Armageddon;"
144,000 go to heaven
Evangelistic Outreach
Distinctive Doctrines
- simply interpreting the Bible as the early Christians
did before heresy crept into the church
Organizational Structure
- powerful bureaucracy
- huge publishing house
Kingdom Halls
- church building exclusively for church activities
- Jehovah's Witnesses view themselves as ministers
Lay Leadership
- leaders of kingdom halls are referred to as elders
- only baptized men over the age of 20 are eligible
- regard themselves as "the religion, the only pure
The Trinity
- Trinitarians belief in three gods or a three-headed God
- deny the concept of the Trinity and the deity of Christ
John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
New World Translation
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Third Person of the Trinity
- the holy spirit is God’s active force, not a personal
- the Bible describes the Holy Spirit as a person (see
personal pronouns in Jn 14:16-17; 15:26; 16:13-14)
Orthodox response:
- the Holy Spirit is called a “witness” (Ac 5:32)
- the Holy Spirit feels love and grief (Ro. 15:30; Eph.
4:30/ Isa. 63:10)
"first presence" of Christ:
three-and-a-half-year period between his baptism and death
- the goats are those who have not accepted the
Witnesses message of Jehovah -> will be destroyed
"second presence" of Christ:
began in 1914; Christ has turned his attention toward earth's affairs and is dividing the people
- for the ‘other sheep,” there is less security: the
believer must be a preacher in this world.
- for the “elect” 144,000 in the remnant class, salvation
is granted by the sovereign will of Jehovah
- The moment a Jehovah Witness ceases to be active
he is regarded by his peers as good as dead in terms
of achieving the ultimate goal of life everlasting in an
earthly paradise
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