In an Awake! magazine edition (6/2008), a letter in the From Our Readers section reads:
“Much of what you say [in the February 2007 edition] is true … there are however, two issues in your magazine that makes me uncomfortable. One is how you put the Christian churches down, and the other is the way you seem to lift yourselves up above the rest. It would be wonderful if we all agreed and were of one faith … I don’t consider any one church or denomination better than the other.”
Though this writer was able to detect the anti-Christian militant spirit that permeates Watchtower writings, he doesn’t seem to be informed about the beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He thinks JWs and the Christian churches should “agree” and be “of one faith” since JWs are supposedly another “denomination.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses actually believe they alone are worshipping God on earth while all others are part of “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion serving Satan which will be destroyed at Armageddon.
That February edition of Awake! referred to in the above letter was titled “Is Religion Losing its Influence?” Its cover had a picture of a church about to sink in a sea.
In it they state (like in most of their materials), that all churches produce the fruits of “counterfeit Christianity which the Devil planted” but “True Christians [i.e Jehovah’s Witnesses] are separated out from the ‘weeds’ of Christendom. Jehovah’s Witnesses are ‘shinning as brightly as the sun’ helping others to know the true God, Jehovah” (p. 9).
In What Does God Require of Us? they state: “Jesus started one true Christian religion. So today there must be just one body, or group, of true worshipers of Jehovah God” (p. 26)
Witnesses claim they are true Christians because they alone are perfectly united in the same mind and beliefs, unlike the “conflicting religions of Christendom.” One of the Bible verses they quote is 1 Cor. 1:10 “Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought” (NWT).
The context of 1 Corinthians was an admonition to the Corinthian Christians who were divided into four factions – Paul, Apollos, Cephas and Christ. Each faction was acting antagonistic to the other three. This can be seen reading 1st Corinthians 1:12-12 and 3:3-7.
Paul emphasized that “But of him are ye in Christ” (1 Cor. 1:30) “ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s” (3:23), meaning that all believers are to be united in Christ – not in a human teacher or “a one true religion.” It’s important to note that in spite of these divisions, Paul the Apostle still believed the Corinthians were true Christians.
1 Corinthians 1:2-3 “to the congregation of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in union with Christ Jesus, called to be holy ones, together with all those everywhere who are calling on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: May you have undeserved kindness and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
A lack of unity didn’t mean that the Corinthian Christians were “bags of weeds” to be destroyed by God. Rather, such divisions implied they were “babes in Christ” and “carnal” (1 Cor. 3:1, 3)
The Watchtower argument that Christian churches are of the Devil because they are not perfectly united is out of touch with Biblical teaching. Nowhere in these passages or elsewhere in Scripture are we commanded to render an unquestionable obedience to an organization. Nowhere does the Bible teaches that unity is attained by submitting to a religious group.
JWs have a list of criteria we should use to identify the true religion. According to them:
“Those who worship the true God base their teachings on the Bible … worship only Jehovah and make his name known… show genuine love for one another … accept Jesus as God’s means of salvation…are no part of the world … They take no part in [the world’s] conflicts … preach God’s Kingdom as man’s only hope. Of all the religious groups on earth, which one meets all these requirements?” (What Does the Bible Really Teach? 2005, 146-151)
These criteria are self-serving and circular. Any religion can make up its own criteria of a true religion, add some Bible verses to them and declare itself as the only religion meeting up with its own standards! Besides, JWs are not the only ones who meet the above. There are other religious sects that believe the same things they believe. For example:
“[They] reject the Trinity. They believe in one supreme God … in eternal punishment of the wicked, but not in eternal torment; in hell, not as a place of torment, but as the grave; in resurrection of the just and unjust; in the utter annihilation of the wicked … Christadelphians take no part in politics, voting or military service” (The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, 1997, 216).
2. Assemblies of the Called Out Ones of Yahweh.
[They] follow the main ideas of the Sacred Name Movement and are very clear in their rejection of both the Trinitarian position and the ‘Oneness’ or ‘Jesus Only’ position of some Pentecostals … Members of the assemblies refrain from military duty … [they believe] the Called Out Ones of Yah consists of the great multitude (which no one can number) from all nations being called out by Yah from all Babylonish religions to serve with Yeshua in the coming kingdom” (Encyclopedia of American Religions, 5th edition, 1996, 528).
3. Assemblies of Yahweh
“The Assemblies also publishes its own version of the Sacred Scriptures … [they teach] the necessity of believers’ affirming the divine names Yahweh and Yahshua … A non-Trinitarian position is maintained … Nonviolence and conscientious objection to war are stressed … Affiliated assemblies are located in 50 countries around the world. The missionary thrust, both foreign and domestic is concentrated through the Sacred Name Broadcast…” (Encyclopedia of American Religions, 529).
4. Assembly of YHWHHOSHUA
[These believe] the true revealed Name of the Almighty is YHWH. [They also claim] the King James (KJV) and other versions of the bible; translators have mistranslated the Divine Name, YHWH into the word ‘LORD’; and ‘GOD’ instead of ‘ELOHIM’ the Hebrew title for the Supreme Being…The members of the assembly of YHWHHOSHUA are to be separate from institutions, customs, traditions, styles and carnal pleasures of the United States as well as the world. A member in no way should participate into the affairs and practices of the world…nor should he be allowed to be a government official, to be a juror, or to serve in the Armed Forces … Christmas … and any other heathen holiday are not celebrated…” (Ency. of American Religions, Vol. 2 pp. 394-400).
If one thing is clear from these few examples, it’s that several other religious groups also adhere to the doctrines/practices that JWs think are unique to them. Therefore, the idea that Jehovah’s Witnesses have the “only true” religion on earth is false. The same criteria that make them true also make others true as well. To suggest otherwise is dishonesty, incoherence and intellectual suicide.
Some JWs may respond that these sects teach additional doctrines that are not part of Watchtower teaching. But The Watchtower (February 15, 2006) says: “Jehovah is … progressively illuminating the path of his people doctrinally … As Jehovah continues to shed light on his people, the gap between them and those of the world keeps on widening” (p. 27).
So we must also hope that Jehovah will also illuminate the paths of these other religious groups as he did for JWs. As they too “walk in the path of increasing light” they too will arrive at the exact doctrines JWs embrace.
This is the claptrap logic that JWs use to excuse their own past false prophesies and doctrinal flip-flops, but what applies to them must also apply to others as well. It’s called consistency. In their Awake! magazine they state:
“A sect is a dissenting group within a religious community or one that breaks away to form a new religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses have not broken away from any church. They are not a sect” (August 2010, page 6)
Any religious group can maintain its unity by excommunicating those who deviate from its beliefs. The outcome is that only those who agree with the established dogma would remain. That would be institutional unity, which is superficial. In fact, the Watchtower Society has been plagued with divisions right from its inception.
Charles Russell broke away from the Adventists to become the leader of the “Bible Students.” If Jehovah’s organization was already in existence before then, why didn’t Russell join it, instead of starting one?
The current JWs splintered from the Bible Student Movement in 1918 when Rutherford ousted the 4 Governing Board members. These men and their supporters continued as ‘Bible Students’ and held to Russell’s teachings, while Jehovah Witnesses who got their name later on, held to Rutherford’s teachings. JWs are in fact, a sect within a sect.
The Watchtower (November 1, 2009) says: “…unlike the Protestant movement, which has splintered into hundreds of denominations, Jehovah’s Witnesses have maintained a united global brotherhood” (p. 19).
This is a shameless denial of their own history. The Bible Fellowship Union splintered from the JWs in 1945. In 1981, the Watchtower Society was shaken by a series of schism that led to a large number of people exiting the organization. This mass exodus was led by professor James Penton (one of Russell’s early converts) who insisted on justification by faith.
The True Faith Jehovah’s Witness Association in Romania broke away from the JWs in 1992. The Lord’s Witnesses was founded in Britain by Gordon Ritchie an ex-JW. The Christian Witnesses of Jah broke away from the JWs in 2007 when Greg Stafford, a JW apologist, disagreed with their stance on blood transfusion.
The God’s Kingdom Society (founded by Gideon Urhobo, a Nigerian) also broke away from the JWs. Therefore, if churches lack God’s approval because of divisions, the same must be said about the Watchtower Society.
One point missing in the criteria JWs throw around is: what it means to be a Christian. The real question isn’t supposed to be whether you have a “true religion” or not but whether you are in Christ and He is in you. Romans 3:22 says “Everyone who believes has God’s approval through faith in Jesus Christ.” This is the only way to have God’s approval. It’s not by joining “a true religion.”