Witnesses to Error
The doorbell rings and the Jehovah's Witnesses want to speak with you. Perhaps you have a friend or relative who has become a Witness and you are in a position of having to defend your beliefs. Here is a little "Apostolic Ammunition" for you to make them think twice about "talking" to any Catholics.
Who are the witnesses?
They are religious sect, claiming to be Christian which was, forme in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania in 1852 by Charles Taze Russell. Today there are several million of them around the world. They will tell you how they don't have churches; they have "Kingdom Halls" instead. They are out to make converts, and they like to give away their pretty publications. We shall refer to them however, as Russellites, properly so-called after their founder.
How did the jehovah's witnesses begin?
Before he made up his own religion, Charles Russell worked
as a tailor. He was raised a Congregationalist, but at the age of 17 he tried
to convert an atheist to Christianity and ended up being converted instead; not
to atheism, but to agnosticism. Some years later he went to an Adventist
meeting, was told that Jesus would be back at any time. He started his own
Bible study group in 1872, who, properly called themselves "Russellites."
The Russellites named him "Pastor," even though he had only a 7th grade
The life of Christ shows Him as a holy example to His followers; but the life of Charles Russell shows how he was an outright scoundrel, and was often caught at it! Russell was proven even in court to be a habitual liar and premeditated perjurer in a libel lawsuit that he brought against a Protestant minister, J. J. Ross. He was successfully sued for divorce and alimony by his wife Maria Ackley in 1906 for his "conceit, egotism, and domination." He cheated many people out of millions of dollars when he sold his "miracle wheat," claiming it would grow five times better than regular wheat. In fact, as was proven in court, it grew slightly less well than regular wheat. Later, he marketed a fake cancer cure and what he called a "millennial bean!" (Beans, beans, good for the heart!!)
In 1879, he founded the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WB&TS) with headquarters in Brooklyn, NY as a teaching arm of the organization. When Russell died in 1916, his successor, "Judge" (not a real judge) Joseph R. Rutherford, changed the name of the sect to the Jehovah's Witnesses in order to "sound more biblical."
Are the jehovah's witnesses Christian?
No. They, like the Mormons, claim to be Christians and even to believe in the Bible, but in fact, deny that Christ is God. They say that Jesus is only a man like any other (albeit exalted). A Christian believes that Jesus Christ is both true God and true man. Russellites also say that Saint Michael the Archangel is Jesus - any Christian knows better.
What do russellites believe?
The Jehovah's Witnesses like to tell you how, since 1914, mankind is, according to the Bible, in the days of the end. (Truth that leads to Eternal Life. WB &TS p.94) They will say how you must get yourself out of "this wicked system of things" by becoming a Jehovah's Witness; you only have until the year when everyone who was born in 1914 has finally died - but don't worry because there is no Hell, and the worst that can happen to you is that you simply cease to exist.
They say that there are only 144,000 people allowed to enjoy heavenly bliss, but "today, only a remnant of these are still left on earth (You Can Live Forever on Paradise Earth. WB &TS p. 126)", so you will have to be content with the hope of living in the earthly paradise instead. (N.W.T., p.1651)
They say that God is one, and there is no Trinity. Christ is indeed the Son of God, but he is a man like ourselves, equal in all respects to Adam before the Fall. The Holy Spirit is not a person, but only God's soul. They say that Jesus merits our salvation because he lived a perfect life (not because He is God). He offered his perfect life to God, who found it acceptable. Russellites do not believe in the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist, and say that Jesus only spoke symbolically.
They teach that there is no difference between the soul of a man and the body of the man - he is a soul, and when he dies, there is nothing about him that lives on. Hell is only the common grave of mankind, and the Lake of Fire is only the second death from which none will be resurrected.
They advocate a clean life without violence, impurity, hatred, war, and all those things which are contrary to natural well-being. They say that the evil in the world today is a sign of the end of the times, for which reason they have predicted several times that the world was going to end (obviously, this has never happened). They are still waiting for this world to end very soon and for Christ to come.
Jehovah's Witnesses are forbidden to have blood transfusions based on their interpretations of Genesis 19:3-4; Lev. 17:14, and Acts 15:28-29. They used to forbid vaccinations and organ transplants, but have since lifted these restrictions.
What is the watchtower society?
As we mentioned above, the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society is the publishing and teaching facility of the Jehovah's Witnesses. They produce many beautiful colorful books to "educate" people in their doctrines, often using pretty pictures of inter-racial associations to aim at one group or another, and a pedagogical manner to lead the reader into thinking a particular way. They make hateful attempts to discredit Catholics, Protestants, and even other religions, using false reasoning and childlike arguments. There are many little hardbound books as well as their magazine, AWAKE.
What about "Jehovah?"
Jehovah, they say, is the name of God. The word Jehovah is not in the Bible, and a well-instructed Witness knows this. Ancient Hebrew did not use vowels, and so the word was actually: YHWH, which occurs over 6,000 times in the Hebrew Biblical texts (the Latin Vulgate Bible in its place uses Dominus, meaning "Lord"). The Jews had such reverence for this name that they would not pronounce it, but would substitute other names like Elohim and Adonai. YHWH is really pronounced," Yahweh," and literally means, "I am who am." God revealed this name Moses (Exodus HI: 14-15) on Mount Sinai, and there is no record of it before that time. The pronunciation of YHWH as "Jehovah" is erroneous, being a hybrid of the consonants of YHWH and the vowels of Adonai.
The Witnesses claim that sanctifying God's name is a mark of the true religion, noting that "the churches in general avoid the use of the name 'Jehovah'. They say that the exact pronunciation doesn't really matter, only that "Jehovah" is the most common. Wouldn't it feel disrespectful however, to call a king, or a parent by their first name?
HOW CAN I TALK TO THEM?
Depending on the particular person you speak with, Russellites can be very difficult to talk to. The Witnesses have their own idea of how things work, and they make every effort to thoroughly indoctrinate their poor believers. All the Witnesses' studies are published by their WB&TS - even their Bible, so it is hard to get through to them. Be ready for their premeditated arguments, for they have studied how to "beat" the Catholic point by point.
Imagine if you took the true Faith and changed a few fundamental truths; you can see that certain effects would logically follow. When you consider their main errors, you have the key to understanding just how they think. This knowledge is invaluable in defeating their arguments. They always change truth to fit the error.
Basically, you will treat the Jehovah's Witnesses like Protestants, showing them where they err in their interpretation of Holy Scripture (you might ask them why they believe in the Bible), but beware their Bible: it is not true to the original manuscripts. Their New World Translation contains many purposeful changes in the text which distort the true meaning to support their false teachings.
The Witnesses' first big error is they hold that Jesus is just a man, that He is not God, and so their theology reflects this throughout. Be sure to insist on discussing this issue first. It is from this particular error that they disbelieve the Holy Trinity and reduce the Holy Ghost to being simply the energy of God and not the Third Person. Their second big error is where they say how there is no difference between the body of a man and his soul This results in their warped, naturalistic idea of Heaven (as Paradise on Earth), Hell (which is just non-existence) and death. It also gives them reason to believe that the only detriment to sin is physical malady. They have also a few peculiarities that are rather isolated from their central doctrine. Changing their teachings concerning these points would not affect their theology. These are silly errors based on mistranslations of certain Bible verses, for example: only 144,000 go to heaven; the end of the world is near; and the evil of blood transfusions (they have in fact, made substantial changes in all three!).
What are some good arguments against the witnesses?
The first statement, in italics, is what they teach; it is followed by our rebuttal.
1) Jesus is not God, but man only.
We know that Jesus is God. Jesus' divinity is also the key to proving the Trinity. Be careful; when they say that Jesus is divine, they mean that He is "god-like, being a special, perfect man" whereas Catholics intend to say that He IS God. You have excellent proofs in the Church Fathers and in Scripture. Familiarize yourself ahead of time, and use: John 20:28-29; John 14:9; Colossians 11:9; and Isaias 9:6. If used together, Deut 10: 17 & Apoc. 19: 16, show that Jesus is Lord of Lords. Apoc 1:8 & 22:12-13, in conjunction show how Jesus is called Alpha and Omega. In Isaias 43:11 & Titus 3:4 & 3:6, Scripture points to a human saviour who has the qualities of God. Remember too, that anyone can be called a saviour, but only Jesus is the Messias. Don't forget that Jesus has two natures, human and divine', the Witnesses will try to prove that he is only human when he acts human. John 14:6 is especially strong, because only God can be the life of something, where a creature can only say, "I have life".
2) There is no Trinity.
Use Matthew 28:19; the disciples are ordered by Jesus to baptize in three names, not one. All three names are used in an equal sense, as designating God. The name God is singular because there is but one God, even though he is addressed by three names at once!
3) Jesus is only a god, not the God
Use: Isaias 44:6; 1st Cor. 8:4-6. The Russellites changed John 1:1 to say "the Word was a God," but no other Bible in existence reads like this! Either Jesus is the one, true God, or He is a false God; make the Witnesses tell you one way or the other. With this in mind, you may also use Matt. 1:23.
4)The early Church failed in its mission because of sin.
If you can speak well about the Church Fathers, like Saint Ignatius of Antioch and Saint Irenaeus, you can prove that they taught Catholicism, and that the Church has indeed prevailed, since you are quoting them to support your faith even today!
5) The end is near.
Jesus hid His divine knowledge of when the end would come and spoke only from what He knew as man. Now, Jesus most assuredly knew when He would return, but He never told. Use: Matt. 24: 14, 27, 27:37-42; Apoc. 3:11, 16: 15, 22:20, Mark 8:24-27, Luke 12:40, 18:8, 16:25-28.
6) Only 144,000 go to Heaven.
Nobody ever believed this before 1935 when Judge Rutherford told people about his "revelation." They misunderstand Apoc. 7: 1-8 and 14: 1 -5. Notice just who are on earth and who are in Heaven! In Apoc. 7: 1 -8, the 144,000 are on earth, while verse 9 tells us of a crowd in heaven so great that they are uncountable. Also, Christ gives all his followers the hope of Heaven: Matt. 5:l 1-12; Phil. 3:20; John 3:2; 1st Thess. 4:13-18.. They also say that the OT saints never went to Heaven. Offer them 2nd Kings 2:ll; Heb. 11:5; Luke 13:28. Where in the Bible is mentioned that Joseph Smith went to Heaven? Or that there are some group of Christians who aren't allowed in? Who would want to not go to Heaven?
7) Man is a soul
We know (and so did the ancient pagan philosophers!) that a man is part body, part soul, and that when he dies, his soul will end up in Heaven or Hell. Use especially Matt. 10:28, and Apoc. 6:9-10: these are strong in showing how souls survive death. Man resembles God in the spirit: John 4:24 & Gen. 1:27. Also see: Matt. 17: 1 -8 and Luke 16. Remember that soul can be used in different ways.
May God afford you courage, strengthen your faith, and bless your efforts efforts!