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Part 5: Watchtower Organization misrepresents the Early Church Fathers

The Watchtower Organization (Jehovah’s Witnesses) has maintained that following the death of Jesus and His apostles, the Christian Church became corrupted with ideas of Greek philosophy and paganism.  There was a great apostasy where the true church was almost lost.  A primary doctrine corrupted was the nature of Christ, who they teach was the first creation of Jehovah God.  Even though this apostasy of the church was widespread, a faithful remnant of anointed men continued the true beliefs that Jehovah’s Witnesses hold today.

The Watchtower booklet, “Should You Believe in the Trinity” quotes the writings of a few early church fathers to support their contention these men taught their doctrines.  Did the early church fathers teach what the Watchtower Organization believes?  Was there a great apostasy that corrupted the true teachings of Jesus and His apostles? Was there a faithful remnant who held similar beliefs to Jehovah’s Witnesses?  I will look at some of the ancient writings and examine these claims by the Watchtower.

The first question I will address is did a great apostasy occur?  Did the vast majority of the early church abandon the clear teachings of Jesus and his apostles?  A great apostasy would require an extraordinary event where the loss of faith of an entire generation including disciples of the apostles and eyewitnesses of the thousands of martyrs who refused to deny Jesus and worship pagan gods. This is an incredible historical event that can be tested. Interesting is Mormonism makes a similar claim.  They maintain there was a complete apostasy of the true teachings of Christianity and the one true church was restored over 1800 years later by the angel Moroni who delivered the golden plates to Joseph Smith.

Was the true faith of the Jehovah’s Witnesses abandoned completely by the early church?  Historical facts do not support this contention. Ancient writings, such as Gnosticism, which combined elements of Greek and Pagan philosophies, survived until today.  Yet, we do not have a single manuscript that points to any group who believed like the Witnesses do.  If they are the surviving remnant of the one true ancient church, how is this possible?  How can they claim there was a great apostasy without any manuscript evidence?

The most compelling argument against this so called widespread apostasy is to say the apostles of Jesus completely failed their mission.  These men were commissioned by Jesus to teach what he taught and share the truth of the resurrection. An apostasy means they blew their mission.  This also implies that God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, lacked the power to preserve His church.  If this apostasy took place then we can conclude the apostles were incompetent and God is weak.

Therefore, we have no reason to support the contention the church abandoned the teachings of Jesus following His crucifixion and the death of the apostles.  The absence of literary evidence for an alternative group of believers and the implication of a total failure of God and the apostles of Jesus make this view implausible.

What about the writings of the early church fathers?  Did they teach the doctrines of the Watchtower society?

Go to part 6 here

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Phoebe Scarborough August 30, 2012, 8:27 am

    As a former Jehovah’s Witness, I feel I should make a clarification here. Having grown up JW, it was my understanding that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a newer religious group, founded by a Quaker, not the surviving remnant of the one true ancient church. In their attempt to form the most pure form of worship possible, which apparently they did not believe existed at the time of the bible group’s founding, they traced biblical history backwards to see what had and had not been left out, like the name Jehovah. The difference between this idea and Mormon beliefs (although there are some similarities) is that the name Jehovah can actually be found in biblical history; as far as I know, the angel Moroni and a story about golden plates cannot.

    I agree with your point about God abandoning his church and the apostles failing in their mission; I do not believe either of those things happened. However I can tell you that Jehovah’s Witnesses wholeheartedly believe in the twelve apostles and their work. The questionable part or gray area in this argument lies in what happened after they died. That I leave you to grapple over with a Jehovah’s Witness or other theologian, because I honestly do not know. That’s where the bible ends.

    I also want to say that I do not believe that the Jehovah’s Witness religion is deceptive, at least not intentionally, anyway. I think they want to worship perfectly, which is why they do all the research and comb through every idea on faith. I do not agree with their findings, for many reasons, one being that perfection does not exist and is not necessary (that’s why Christ died for us), but I think their desire is to enlighten, not deceive, however wrong some of their ideas might be.

  • Steve August 31, 2012, 8:28 pm

    Phoebe,
    Thanks for writing and expressing your opinion. Did you get a chance to read the entire series up to this point? If not, please go back and read what I’ve posted so you can see my entire case.

    The Watchtower Organization does believe a faithful remnant of believers (holding same beliefs as JWs today) have passed on the true doctrines after the death of the apostles until today. You are correct in your understanding the religion is recent (late 1800’s) but they still trace their beliefs back to the early church writers. That is why they included the quotes from these writers in the booklet “Should You Believe in the Trinity?” They were trying to show their anti-Trinitarian stance was held by the early church.

    My indictment was not against individual Jehovah’s Witnesses; it was against the Watchtower Organization. I have spent hundreds of hours sharing with Witnesses in my home. They kept coming back because they sincerely believed they had the truth and wanted to share it because they were concerned about my eternal destiny. They shared their truth in love.

    However, I have a different opinion about the Watchtower Organization and what they publish. I am making a strong case they intentionally deceive their followers. In earlier writings they spoke out against misquoting or misrepresenting the views of others because they are an organization of truth (see part 1 of this series). And then they give partial quotes, removing the parts that condemn their view. In the process they totally misrepresent the view of the original authors. To prevent people from checking the quotes they only give the title of the source. If they had integrity and weren’t trying to hide information, they would have 1) quoted accurately and in context, and 2) provided more scholarly references. The problem is if they quoted truthfully they would expose the fact that the early church was Trinitarian. This is why they have to lie and deceive. Again my focus here is on the organization and not the individuals.

    As far as the Christian Church removing Jehovah from the Bible, this is a full-fledged lie. The name “Jehovah” is not found in any ancient Old Testament manuscripts. The word was created by combining the original Hebrew name for God YHWH and adonai (word used by Jews who didn’t want to say God’s name). The resulting combined word, “Jehovah” has been used for the name God by many groups but it is not found in the Bible. Nowhere do you find the word Jehovah in the original languages, Hebrew or Greek.

    The Watchtower Organization forcing the word Jehovah into the New Testament is simply wrong. When Jehovah’s Witness translators did this they went against thousands of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, some of which date back to the second century. Instead the New Testament uses the words “Lord” [Greek: Kurios] and “God” [Greek: theos] when talking about God. The writers never used Jehovah, even when quoting the Old Testament. The Greek New Testament source for the New World Translation, Westcott and Hort, never used Jehovah. The Kingdom Interlinear confirms Jehovah was never in the original text. This interlinear published by the Watchtower Organization shows how kurios (Lord) and theos (God) were spuriously changed to Jehovah in the English translation. Stating God’s name was left out of the Bible is false.

    My motive for writing was to warn others about the deception of the Watchtower Organization and to equip others to share the truth in the love. I am always hoping individual Jehovah’s Witnesses will disagree with me and respond to my posts. I am concerned about their eternal destiny. I am so glad your salvation rests on what Christ did on the cross and no longer based on good works as the Watchtower teaches.

    Steve Bruecker

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