Apologetics Index

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 Divine guidance comes only through the Watchtower Society, the religion’s legal entity.

The Watchtower Society is the only true religious organization. All believers must submit to it.

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Ruled by a group of men, the organization wields absolute spiritual authority over its followers.

In fact, the Watchtower Society teaches that “Jehovah’s organization” is in no way democratic, but rather theocratic (ruled by God). The Society claims that it alone has the authority to speak for God. Consequently, to disagree with the Watchtower Society is to disagree with God.

Thus salvation is not possible without being “associated with God’s channel, His organization.”

No surprisingly the Watchtower Society also claims that it alone can reveal the true meaning of the Bible. 1

Adherents are taught that only Jehovah’s Witnesses have God’s truth. Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic Christianity are considered false and controlled by Satan.

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.

Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the doctrine of the Trinity — one of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. They claim that Jesus is not God. Rather, he was the Archangel Michael through whom Jehovah created the universe. After his death, he was resurrected as a spirit. He returned to earth in spirit in 1914, and it is just a matter to time before he along with the angels will destroy all non-Jehovah’s Witnesses.

They consider the Holy Spirit to be an invisible, active ‘force’ from Jehovah.

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.

Research Resources


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.

  • Blood: Watchtower Flip-Flops on Blood Fractions 4 Times[contra] While it claims to represent God on earth, the Watchtower Society — the organization behind Jehovah’s Witnesses — has flip-flopped its teachings regarding blood. Documented here with quotes from the organization’s own publications. See also the Jensen Letter
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses and Blood Transfusions [contra] Christian Medical Fellowship. Demonstrates that the Jehovah’s Witnesses teaching on blood are biblically indefensible
  • New Light on Blood [contra the Watchtower Society’s blood policies, but from the perspective of Jehovah’s Witnesses] by The Associated Jehovah’s Witnesses for Reform on Blood (AJWRB). From time to time the Watchtower Society comes up with changes to its doctrines, adjustments that followers are led to believe is “New Light” provided by God.
  • Watchtower Society’s blood policy made simple [contra]

    To many observers, it appears the Watchtower Society’s blood policy is almost intentionally ambiguous. … This page attempts to clearly and simply explain the reality behing the ‘spin.’

  • Why some Jehovah’s Witnesses accept blood and conscientiously reject official Watchtower Society blood policy by Lee Elder, The Associated Jehovah’s Witnesses for Reform on Blood (AJWRB), Journal of Medical Ethics 2000;26:375–380Note that those involved in AJWRB are still Jehovah’s Witneses, even though they challenge the Watchtower on its teachings and edicts regarding blood.




  • Watchtower Searchoffsite Collection of customized search engines for information about Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society.

See Also

Apologetics Index research resource

    • Additional resources in our

older entry on Jehovah’s Witnesses



  1. However, since the Bible does not support the false teachings of the Watchtower, the organization produced its own Bible version, the New World Translation.

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Category: Jehovah's Witnesses
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First published (or major update) on Friday, April 14, 2017.
Last updated on December 19, 2022.

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