Part 2 Background on Jehovah’s Witnesses

Background on Jehovah Witnesses

Christian Apologist Ron Rhodes writes: “The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God personally set up the Watchtower Society as His visible representative on earth.  According to them it is through this organization and no other that God teaches the Bible humankind today.  Without the Society and its vast literature, people are said to be utterly unable to ascertain the true meaning of Scripture[1].”  According to their organization they are the one true church; the only true Christians.  If they are what they claim, what happened to the church for almost 2,000 years following the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  Why did God wait so long to rise up the one true organization?  How and when did they get started?

Charles Taze Russell was born in 1852.   He was the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1872.  During his early years he learned about the doctrines of Christianity but had difficulty in dealing with the doctrine of hell.   This doctrine inspired him to study the Bible and to investigate the scriptural support for eternal damnation.  In his studies he came to deny not only eternal punishment, but also the Trinity, and the deity of Christ.  When Russell was 18, he organized a Bible class in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  In 1879 he sought to popularize his ideas on Christian doctrines.  In order to do so, he co-published a magazine and by 1884 he took control of the publication and renamed it The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom.   He then named the Bible study Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society (today known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society). The first edition of The Watchtower magazine was only 6,000 copies each month. Today the Witnesses' publishing complex in Brooklyn, New York, churns out 100,000 books and 800,000 copies of its two magazines–daily!

Russell claimed that the Bible could be only understood according to his interpretations. This control over the interpretation of the Bible lays the groundwork for what we see today.  They claim the Watchtower magazine is the one true mouthpiece of God.  This kind of assertion is typical among leaders of certain aberrant religions.

After the death of Russell on Oct. 31, 1916, a Missouri lawyer named Joseph Franklin Rutherford took over the presidency of the Watch Tower Society, which was known then as the International Bible Students Association. In 1931 he changed the name of the organization to “The Jehovah's Witnesses.”

Throughout their history, many people associate Jehovah’s Witnesses with their failed prophecies.  They have been famous for predicting the end of the world and have come up short time and time again.  I will next look at some of these failed prophecies.

Go to part 3 here



[1] Rhodes, Ron, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Harvest House Publ., 1993, p.23

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