The Watchtower’s False Theology

I once came across an edition of Watchtower magazine (October, 1, 2011) titled: “Five Lies about God Exposed”. It’s a typical polemic against Christendom. On page 3 it says:

“Imagine, then how you would feel if you learned that you had been lied to about God?… God’s Word, the Bible, contains what we need in order to distinguish the truth from lies.”

Now, let’s give JWs their own medicine by testing their theology with the Bible. As Christians, we all agree that knowledge of God is important. On the back cover of each Watchtower magazine we are told:

“Even in this troubled world, you can gain happiness from accurate Bible knowledge of God”. A common Bible text used to support this is John 17:3 which in their New World Translation reads: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God…” Actually, this is a flawed rendering.

The passage says: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Jesus wasn’t speaking of a general knowledge of the Bible (“taking in knowledge”) there, rather, He was referring to an intimate knowledge of God; a personal relationship.

The Watchtower Society deliberately mistranslated that text in order to safeguard their belief in God as an organizational Chief Executive. They believe only 144,000 JWs can have any close relationship with God as sons of God while He relates with majority of JWs who are part of “the great crowd” as a heavenly grandfather:

God does not adopt them as spiritual sons, as he does the 144,000” (The Watchtower, Feb. 1, 1998, 20).

In such a way that the heavenly Father of Jesus Christ will become the heavenly Grandfather of the restored human family” (Worldwide Security Under the Prince of Peace, 169).

In their book, Reasoning From the Scriptures, God is illustrated as a “kindly grandfather” who intervened on our behalf by “making provision through a son who is living with him” (p. 308). But the Bible says that all believers have been adopted as sons and that we all have access to the Father through Jesus by one Spirit:

 “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father”. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Rom. 8:14-16)

“For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Eph. 2:18).

Most Christians don’t realize that JWs also deny the omnipresence of God. This is because it’s not directly implied unless one carefully reads their materials. In an edition of Awake! (2011, pp. 29-29), they wrote:

The fact that Jehovah has a place of dwelling indicates that he is not in all places at all times … there is no need for Jehovah God literally to be everywhere … Jehovah can use his holy spirit to perceive what is happening … and through his angelic forces, he is able to be fully aware of what is happening regarding his creation

Yes, it’s true that God is not everywhere in the same sense. Heaven is where God’s presence and glory is fully and visibly manifested (John 20:17, Revelation 21:2). But He is still present everywhere: in all believers (John 14:16), with unbelievers (John 16:7-11), He is “not far from everyone of us” (Acts 17:27-28) and “neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight” (Hebrews 4:13).

The Watchtower leaders’ denial of God’s omnipresence is a residue of their early teaching that God lives in a planet: “the Pleiades is the place of the eternal throne of God” (Reconciliation, 1928, p. 14). They used to teach that Jehovah “governs his universe” from the star “Alcyone” in the Pleiades constellation (Thy Kingdom Come p. 377). This doctrine was later discarded.

But the Bible says:

Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord“and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord“Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord (Jer. 23:23-24)

The Psalmist wrote: “Where can I go from your SpiritWhere can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast(Ps. 139:7-10).

Ironically, Jehovah’s Witnesses use this Psalm 139 to present a rather demeaning idea of God as a sun distributing energy (the “holy spirit”) everywhere. Notice that the words “YOU” and “YOUR SPIRIT” are used of God interchangeably shows us that the Spirit of God is God, not “radio waves.”

The omniscience of God was also denied in the above Awake quote, by claiming He relies on angels for what happens on earth. Elsewhere they wrote:

Would not limiting God’s knowledge of the future undermine his almightiness? You may ask. Not at all” (The Watchtower, July 15, 1984, pp. 4-5).

Certainly Jehovah God had not planned matters this way. He now had to adapt Himself to the new set of circumstances” (God’s “Eternal Purpose”, 1974, 97).

On the contrary, the Bible says God “knows all things” (1 Jn. 3:20); He is “perfect in knowledge” (Job 37:16) and “His understanding is beyond measure” (Ps. 147:5). Definitely, the God of the Bible is not the one served in the Watchtower. Therefore, it can be inferred that:

1. The Watchtower presents God as a distant grandfather.
2. In order to sustain the lie that God is remote, they denied God’s omnipresence.
3. To sustain this error, they also had to deny the personality of the Holy Spirit, claiming He is just a force.
4. Since their god is distant, they also have to deny that he is all-knowing as well.

So, one error begets another and then another till a watchtower of lies about God is built up.

Answering the Witnesses: the Name “Jehovah”

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they are the only true servants of God in the world today because they use God’s unique, personal name – Jehovah. According to them, this very name appears 7,000 times in the Hebrew scriptures but has been removed.

The fact is, the anglicized word “Jehovah” occurs nowhere in the Hebrew texts. The name that occurred was YHWH or JHVH which no one could exactly pronounce. This name was called the “Tetragrammation” (because of its four letters). The ancient Jews dreaded mispronouncing this name, so they used the name “Adonai” (meaning LORD) instead.

According to the Encyclopedia Judaica (Vol. 7, 680): “The true pronunciation of the name YHWH was never lost. Several early Greek writers of the Christian church testify that the name was pronounced ‘YAHWEH’ … At least until the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E this name was regularly pronounced with its proper vowels, as is clear from the Lachish letters, written shortly before that date.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica (1985, Micropedia, 12:804) agrees: “After the Exile (6th century B. C.), and especially from the 3rd century BC on, Jews ceased to use the name Yahweh for two reasons. As Judaism became a universal religion through its proselytizing in the Greco-Roman world, the more common noun elohim, meaning ‘god’ tended to replace Yahweh.”

Later in the Middle Ages, “the vowels of Adonai were attached to the consonant YHWH … [and] the word Jehovah resulted” (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson, 1995, 503). Therefore, the name “Jehovah” is really a man made term more so since there are no “J” or “V” sounds in Hebrew.

JWs point at the “Jehovah” in Psalm 83:18 and Isaiah 12:2, 26:4 of the King James version. This really proves nothing because the name was first coined circa 13th century A.D. and was not popular until the 16th century. The “Jehovah” name was used in William Tyndale’s translation and this is why it appears in the KJV.

In their brochure, The Divine Name That will Endure Forever, none of the archaeological proofs they presented for the name “Jehovah” date earlier than the medieval period.

JWs quote Exodus 3:15, that God must always be addressed as Jehovah but a study of the Old Testament shows that this was not the only name for God. Many times, God revealed Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus Christ never addressed God as Jehovah, He began His prayers addressing God as “Our Father…” (Matthew 6:9). He prayed at the cross “Father forgive them…” (Lk. 23:34).

While the Jews accused Jesus of several things, they never accused Him of not using the name “Jehovah.” If God must always be referred to as Jehovah, then Jesus was in error. Christians also address God as “Abba Father” (Rom. 8:15, Gal. 4:16).

Nowhere does the name “Jehovah” occur in all the 5,000 Greek New Testament manuscripts – since it’s not a Greek word – yet JWs have smuggled it into the New Testament of their own New World version!

Granted, their name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was adopted in 1931, it was not the name their founder gave them. The text they used, Isaiah 43:10 says “You are my witnesses,” declares Jehovah,“Yes, my servant whom I have chosen…”

Reading the whole chapter, however, it’s clear that it refers to the nation of Israel as a collective witness to God’s majesty, faithfulness and truth. To take this verse referring to Israel – 700 years before Christ – and claim it is fulfilled in a modern day religious group 1900 years after Christ is a gross misuse of Scripture.

In the New Testament, the main focus was for Christians to be witnesses of Jesus Christ.

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the holy spirit comes upon you, and you will be witnesses of me [Jesus] in Jerusalem, in all Ju·deʹa and Sa·marʹi·a, and to the most distant part of the earth.”

Acts 2:32 “God resurrected this Jesus, and of this we are all witnesses.

Acts 4:33 “And with great power the apostles continued giving the witness about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus

JWs desperately latch on to Acts 15:14 that God takes out “a people for his name” and they are the ones. This passage gives no name, so how did JWs arrive at their conclusion? Are they saying that God didn’t have a witness for 18 centuries until they were founded? This also leads us to another fact: there is only one name by which Christians are to be identified and that is the name of Jesus Christ.

a) In whose name should we meet together? Mt. 18:20, 1 Cor. 5:4.

b) Demons are subject to whose name? Lk. 10:19, Acts 16:18

c) Repentance and forgiveness should be preached in whose name? Lk. 24:47

d) By whose name and no other do we obtain salvation? Acts 4:12

e) In whose name are we to pray? John 14:13

f) In whose name did the early disciples heal the sick and expel demons? Acts 3:6, 16:18

g) Whose name is above all other name? Phil. 2:9-11, Eph. 1:21

The answer is Jesus Christ, not Jehovah. God has split the human language and He may not expect us to use the same name for Him all over the world. Aside this, God has revealed Himself not just by name, but more importantly by His Word. “…for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” Psalm 138:2 (KJV).