Jehovah’s Witnesses — A Cult of Christianity

This is a continuation of our older entry on Jehovah’s Witnesses — Newer resources will be placed on this page.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

The religious sect was founded in the 1870s and 1880s by Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916). Followers were initially known as “Bible Students.”

The name Jehovah’s Witnesses was adopted in 1931 to set the sect apart from traditional Christian groups as well as ‘Bible Students’ splinter groups.

Jehovah’s Witnesses — Beliefs

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that

Jehovah’s Witnesses consider their organization the only true Christian organization. They also view themselves as God’s righteous people who are persecuted by governments and traditional Christian groups (“apostate Christendom”).

Witnesses believe that the truths of Scripture were lost through an apostasy that occurred centuries ago; then God used C.T. Russell to bring to light and restore many of the Christian teachings that had been lost. A few of Russell’s doctrines have been kept, others have been modified over the years, and some have been discarded altogether.

Jehovah’s Witnesses deny many of the cardinal doctrines of historic Christianity: the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the physical resurrection of Christ, and the personality of the Holy Spiti. They also deny a conscious eternal punishment for the wicked, the immortality of the soul, and the substitutionary atonement of Christ.”

– Source: H. Wayne House, Charts of Cults, Sects, & Religious Movements. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI. 2000, page 150.

Basic Teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Distinctive Practices

The Watchtower Society teaches that the entire world system — social, political, military, and religious — is under the control of the devil. Therefore it commands Jehovah’s Witnesses to be separate from it.

This is why they reject — and do not participate in — birthdays, religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter, patriotism — including celebrations like President’s Day, Memorial Day, and common celebrations like Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day, and Mother’s Day.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are also forbidden from involvement in political affairs — including voting, holding office in any governmental position, or saluting the flag.

Witnesses refuse military service, including as non-combatants.

Is it a cult?

Theologically, the Watchtower Society/Jehovah’s Witnesses is a cult of Christianity — meaning that it deviates from Christianity’s essential doctrines to such an extent that, despite the organization’s claims, it falls outside the boundaries of the Christian faith.

Sociologically the organization also has a number of cult-like elements and characteristics.

Its practice of shunning those who leave or criticize the cult, and the fact that the organization essentially encourages people to die — or allow their loved-ones to die — over the basis of false teachings regarding blood transfusions make the Watchtower Society/Jehovah’s Witnesses a destructive cult.

Note the difference between theological and sociological definitions of the term ‘cult.’

Research Resources

Articles

On JW teachings regarding blood

In 1945 the Watchtower Society — the legal organization behind Jehovah’s Witnesses — banned its members from accepting any form of blood, whether it be whole or fractional. Since then the organization — which claims to be God’s visible representative on earth — has issued different, often contradictory teachings and edicts on the issue.

Countless people have died as a direct result of the unbiblical, cultic teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding blood transfusions.

Books

Discussion

News

See Also