Larry Wessels, director of Christian Answers of Austin, Texas/ Christian Debater (see websites: BibleQuery org, HistoryCart com & MuslimHope com), has dealt extensively with Jehovah's Witnesses over the last 30 years (including witnessing for Christ at many of their conventions). Here, Larry Wessels presents a series of informative programs on the Jehovah's Witness religion which was begun by a man named Charles Taze Russell who had no formal theological training but was able to spread his strange & peculiar beliefs throughout the world. This man Russell even believed that Revelation 14:6 was talking about him & that Revelation 8:3 referred to Russell's "Watch Tower Society." The following statistics for the Jehovah's Witnesses are dated however they do provide insight into the scope of this religion: The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society organization has a worldwide active membership of over 5,800,000 in 205 countries with over 931,162 here in the U.S. 15,000,000 people (active JWs and non-members) participate in Jehovah’s Witnesses meetings worldwide each week. Each year the Society takes in approximately 200,000 new members, which, according to statistics, is accomplished through 1,372,000 home Bible studies, 339,500,000 hours of witnessing, and 142,104,000 back calls. Put in simpler terms, the Witnesses spend almost 1700 hours of witnessing time for each convert they collect. However, the Watchtower Society rosters are growing rapidly especially in South America, Africa, and Europe. Not only have the Witnesses placed in the field over 461,000 full and part-time missionaries (the combined missionary efforts of all Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches is far less) but they have published over ten billion pieces of literature (this number will double within ten years) since 1928. The “Watchtower” magazine has a yearly circulation of over 530 million in over 129 languages, while their Awake magazine circulates 470 million copies in more than 81 languages.
The beginning of the Jehovah’s Witness religion can be traced back to a men’s clothing manager named Charles Taze Russell. Russell was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania in 1852, was raised as a Presbyterian, but later changed to the Congregational Church. Russell was unhappy with many church teachings, especially predestination and eternal punishment, so he left the mainline churches for good and at the age of 18 began his own Bible class consisting of six people. By 1876 his small group of followers elected him as “Pastor" and the title stuck despite his lack of any formal training. Russell’s following began to grow in 1879, when he first founded and published a magazine entitled, "Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence," which is now known as "The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom." Through this magazine Russell was able to preach doctrines he really believed in, such as Jesus was not God in the flesh, but rather Michael the archangel created by Jehovah; the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) doctrine was Satan- inspired; Christ was not raised bodily from the grave, just spiritually; there is no hell of eternal suffering; Jesus’ second coming will not be in the flesh and visible; and the Holy Spirit is not God. Some of Russell’s other teaching included: Negroes were degraded according to Gen. 9:22, 25 ("Zion’s Watch Tower," 8-1-1898, pp. 229-230); he declared, “Some have a strong desire to worship God, others have a weak desire, and others have no desire at all…” ("The Watchtower," 3-15-1913, p.84, 667). Russell’s passion for date-setting the end of the world and Armageddon was reflected in his use of the ancient Egyptian pyramids as his source, particularly the Great Pyramid at Gizeh. Russell’s Watch Tower literature reflected this belief until his death. Russell’s book, "Studies in the Scripture," vol. III, chapter ten states. “The testimonies of God’s stone witness and prophet, the Great Pyramid in Egypt… The Great Pyramid… an outline of the plan of God, past, present, and future”. (pp. 313-314, 1903 ed.). Russell took measurements of the Great Pyramid (a monument to pagan and occultic Egyptian religion) and then predicted endtime dates with the calculations.
Russell also made claims about so-called “Miracle Wheat” and “Millennial Beans” (Russell lost a lawsuit concerning his “Miracle wheat” – see Martin & Klann’s excellent book, "Jehovah of the Watchtower" published by Bethany House Publishers, with complete documentation on this case and others); he stated that 97% of appendicitis cases are due to “biting of worms near the junction of the transverse colon with the small intestines” and a special medicine offered by the Watch Tower would solve the problem ("The Watch Tower," Jan. 15, 1912). Despite Russell’s “inspired” teachings he later perjured himself under oath in the Russell vs. Ross “defamatory liable” case of March17, 1913 by first claiming to understand the Greek language in which the Bible was originally written.
Russell died on Halloween in 1916 and was succeeded by a Missouri lawyer named Joseph Franklin Rutherford who introduced the name, “Jehovah’s Witnesses” at a 1931 convention in Columbus, Ohio thus freeing followers from previous titles such as “Russellites”, “Millennial Dawnists,” and “Wathchtower people.” Rutherford carried on much of Russell’s belief in pyramids for most of his presidency as well as adding new beliefs and doctrines (such as devils could be saved, from Rutherford’s book "Angels," p. 43, circa 1934).
Nathan H Knorr was the next Jehovah’s Witness president followed by Frederick W. Franz. Neither one of these men trained extensively in the original languages of the Bible. In fact, many Witnesses claimed that Franz was a Rhodes Scholar and a scholar of Hebrew and Greek, but the Rhodes Scholarship Trust (Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn. 06457) has stated that Franz was never considered for a Rhodes Scholarship; similarly a Scottish Court of Sessions of Nov. 1954, pp. 102, 103 in which Franz himself testified, made it clear that Franz could not read, speak nor translate the Hebrew language.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be the prophet of God for today as stated in their April 1, 1972 "Watchtower" magazine, page 197. The May 15, 1955 "Watchtower" says that the Jehovah’s Witnesses compromise Jehovah’s channel of communication. Many other publications proclaim that they are the only true religion. How do we test the claim of a so-called “prophet of God”? Deuteronomy 18:21-22 gives us the answer:
“You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.”
The Jehovah's Witnesses' own history & ever changing theological doctrines (they call it "new light") immediately prove to any researcher that this religious organization cannot be of the God of the Bible. They have even put out their own translation of the Bible which willfully perverts the Scripture. Those wishing more information on this can see "Examining the New World Translation" on YOUTUBE or "Evaluating the Jehovah's Witness New World Translation" on YAHOO VIDEO with Dr Sam Reed & Larry Wessels. For other video references on Jehovah's Witnesses go to GOOGLE VIDEO & type "Larry Wessels" in the GOOGLE VIDEO search box & look for them (such as the videos "Evidence that Jesus is God" or "Trapped in the Jehovah's Witnesses," etc.).
Part 4 of 4 part series.