Jehovah’s Witnesses originated from the Bible student movement founded by Charles Russell in Pennsylvania, USA, in the late 1870s.The followers were originally known as messengers or scholars of the New Gospel before being officially known as Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931, named after the God of Israel, according to Exodus in the Old Testament.
Jehovah’s Witnesses worship the one true and all-powerful God and acknowledge the Bible as their message to people. The followers base their faith on the 66 books of the Bible, including the Old Testament and the New Testament. However, these beliefs differ in many ways, and many details from other Christian sects. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t worship or use the cross as a sign because they believe the Bible advises avoiding paganism by not worshiping pictures, sculptures, or symbols, including the cross.
Likewise, they do not observe Christmas, Easter, birthdays, or other holidays and customs that they consider pagan in origin. They accept that Jesus is the Son of God and Lord of God’s kingdom in Heaven, but not, as other Christian denominations see divinity in the Trinity. They don’t believe in soul immortality or punishment after death, either?
Jehovah’s Witnesses does not serve in the military even if it leads to imprisonment because they follow the divine command of” thou shall not kill.” They don’t recognize governments or presidents because they believe that there is a true government in Heaven. However, they believe that the Kingdom of God, led by Jesus, will rule the earth and bring an end to all human governments.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are prohibited from smoking or receiving blood transfusions. The followers justify the latter by stating that the Bible commands abstention from blood, which God regards as a representation of life, and they regard blood transfusion as an act of disobedience to God, who is the only giver of life.
It has about 8.5 million adherents in 240 countries, including many Arab countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan, Tunisia, and Jordan, according to the official web site of the group. The sect first appeared in the Arab world in the 1950s but faced many objections from governments and religious leaders for supposedly destabilizing religions, distorting gospel facts and supporting the Zionist Movement. The sect’s official magazine was initially called The Watchtower of Zion, although the word “Zion” was later removed. Its symbol, the seven-armed candelabra, is the same as the national symbol of Israel. Furthermore, it is generally believed that the sect preaches Jewish law on earth and that it is hostile to all religions and cultures except Judaism.
According to a study published by the CIA library, Jehovah Witness claim to be Christians. When working for and under Jewish influence, they have close ties with Israel and foreign Jewish organizations and publish encouraging Bible quotes to be close to Israel. Because of this alleged Zionist relationship, the Israeli Arab League boycott office issued Recommendation No. 570 on May 12, 1964, prohibiting Jehovah’s Witnesses in all Arab countries, which had a significant impact on their presence in the region.
The European Jehovah Witness Association, a UK-registered non-governmental organization that is committed to defending Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide and ensuring their freedom to exercise their religious beliefs, found this in light of allegations of cooperation and the sect’s convergence with the Zionist Movement, followers in Arab countries have repeatedly asked the Syria-based Israel Boycott Office to prove that the cult is not affiliated with Israel or the Zionist world. However, they have received no response, and the sect is still on the boycott list.
In Egypt, the belief was introduced by a Greek waiter named Benayoti Constantine Aspiropoulou. An Egyptian named AnisFayek founded and directed the Watchtower Association, which had several offices in the Egyptian governorates.
However, the government decided to dissolve the association and ban its activities. In addition, Jehovah’s Witnesses is not officially recognized as a Christian denomination. A ministerial decree state that “the writing of marriage contracts is prohibited for members of Jehovah ‘s Witnesses” and “the certification and validation of documents issued by the Watchtower Association for biblical purposes will be deemed invalid.” The sect, however, continues its missionary work under the protection of charitable work in some governorates such as Cairo, Alexandria, Asyut, and Tanta.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been present in Lebanon since the 1920s, even though Watchtower Magazine was banned in 1956. In addition, the Council of Ministers, on the recommendation of the Arab League, issued a decision prohibiting the association that represents Jehovah’s Witnesses. Due to a report by the European Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses, authorities banned publications by the sect from entering Lebanon, and the Interior Ministry refused to register the organization as a religious association. The authorities prevented the sect from owning or renting space for their followers to practice their religion and forced the followers to perform their rituals at home. They also had to resort to a civil marriage because the sect is not officially recognized. In addition, other denominations have shown hostility towards them and recommended that Christians write the following sentence on their doors: “If you are a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses, do not knock on the door.”
Likewise, Tunisia and Jordan refused to recognize Jehovah’s Witnesses as a Christian community and banned their activities and publications. This did not, however, deter them from preaching and setting up some informal centres. In 1953 the faith was introduced in Sudan by Greek missionaries. The Ovanidus family adopted the sect’s doctrine in Khartoum. George Ovanidus led the group and convinced other Christian families to be converted. The Catholic Church lodged a lawsuit against the party in 1984, alleging it spread Zionist ideas. Currently, the group has 633 followers in Sudan, the only Arab country to release this number officially, although leaders complain they are regularly being harassed.
Outside the Arab world, there are significant differences between countries in terms of sect recognition and the freedom afforded to members to practice their rituals and preach. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were recognized as a denomination under public law by the Federal Administrative Court in Berlin in 2005. Despite the opposition of the Protestant Church, they collected donations and set up offices, places of worship, and special cemeteries. In Russia, the Supreme Court refused to recognize the sect and banned it as an extremist organization by halting the activities of 395 communities operating on Russian territory and confiscating their property.A supporter was sentenced, for extremism, to six years in prison in February 2019. It has 165,870 associates in Germany, and 175,000 in Russia, according to the sect.
To understand Jehovah’s Witnesses, we must first have a basic understanding of the Bible. Because their beliefs, organization, and hopes are based on what the Bible says.
ARE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES CHRISTIANS?
Some say they are not because they reject the doctrine of the Trinity, but rather Christian means to be a follower of Christ, which means to accept Christ as a guide and to follow his teachings, and both are done by Jehovah’s Witnesses so that they can be considered Christians.
The way they are organized follows the pattern that the Bible left with early Christians in the first century. Their congregations are groups of about a hundred people from a particular area who attend their meeting place called the Kingdom Hall. The kingdom hall might be considered a church, but it is very different because its superiority is modest and fair.
To understand what communities are, you can compare them to the cells in your body. Together they form the entire organization and are managed by the governing body, but simultaneously have a certain degree of autonomy. The letters that the Apostle Paul wrote, which are the majority of the books of the Christian-Greek scriptures, show how the first Christians were grouped by city and how they were supervised. In each Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation, their superiors work together to promote the spiritual growth of the group they serve, while the ministerial servants pay attention to the less complex practical matters that would otherwise burden their superiors.
Another important thing is that they are the only Christian denomination on this planet that uses the Holy Name of God to identify itself, and that comes from the tetragram with which God called himself as the Creator of the entire universe. Their weekly Bible study as a way to build the new Christian personality is conducted through group meetings that analyze various publications such as The Watchtower Magazine, which always contains explanations of the Bible and its teachings. In fact, it appears as a never-ending training program in which people learn to live in peace and harmony and are ready to be part of what they believe the new eternal human society will be after all nations were judged on the day of Armageddon.
The main difference from other religions is that they do not believe in the afterlife (Ecclesiastes 9: 5,10; 3:19) but in the resurrection (John 5: 28,29), and that’s a strange thing because every other religion of the west and east believe in either an immortal soul that survives death or something that wanders from one existence to another. They believe that resurrection will come in the new life that will be established after the day of Armageddon.
Encounters between Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses generally revolve around a discussion about Godhead. The reason for that is twofold. Firstly, this is the place where the doctrine of Watchtower deviates most radically from Orthodox Christianity. Contrary to the three persons Trinitarian concept of God:Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Jehovah Witness were taught to believe that only God the Father is “Jehovah,” the only true God; that Jesus Christ is the Archangel Michael, the first angel God created; and that the Holy Spirit is neither God nor a person, but the impersonal “active force” of God. Second, the deity subject is a common focus of confrontation since both Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christians feel safe and well prepared to defend their position and attack the opposite point of view.
Because of profound theological differences, such discussions often take the form of a spiritual trench war – a long series of arguments and counter-arguments that lead nowhere and end in mutual frustration. In the eyes of Jehovah’s Witnesses, they see themselves as worshiper of the true God, while you are a lost soul who was made to worship a three-headed pagan deity by the devil. No doubt, they are very sincere in these convictions and feel threatened and offended by the doctrine of the Trinity. It is simply unthinkable for Jehovah’s Witnesses to consider their arguments in support of the Trinity seriously. He would sin against Jehovah God to entertain such a thought.
In order to move forward with Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is necessary to fill the gap and find common ground that will make you reconsider your theology. Instead of plunging into a defense of the “Trinity Doctrine” that can be stunning even for a Christian, go step by step.
A logical first step will be to ask the question: “Was Jesus Christ actually an angel?” That will be frightening for Jehovah ‘s Witnesses to expose their sacred religion to objective scrutiny, but not as scary as first addressing proof that God is triune.
Since the Watchtower Society speaks of “Jesus Christ, whom we understand from the scriptures as Michael the Archangel” (The Watchtower, February 15, 1979, p. 31), ask them to give show you this scriptures “that say Jesus is Michael.” There are none. In the New World Translation (NWT) of the Watchtower Society, Michael is mentioned five times as:
- ” One of the princes of the kingdom”(Dan. 10:13),
- “The prince of [Daniel’s] people” (Dan. 10:21),
- ” And at that time shall Michael stand up. The great prince which standeth for the children of thy people [of Daniel]” (Dan. 12: 1),
- “the archangel” who “had a difference from the devil and quarreled over the body of Moses” but “did not dare bring an abusive judgment against him” (Jude 9), and
- a participant in the heavenly conflict, as “Michael and his angels fought the dragon “(Revelation 12: 7).
Ask any Jehovah’s Witnesses member, which of these verses states that Michael is Jesus Christ. Help him/her understand that it is necessary to read the scriptures to arrive at this conclusion. Jesus Christ is not only “one of the chief princes” but “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14) and named ” far above every government and authority and power and lordship and every name named, not only in this system of things, but also in that to come.”(Ephesians 1:21, NWT). And in contrast to Michael, who did not dare to condemn the devil with insulting words, but said: The Lord rebukes you! “(Judas 9) Jesus Christ showed his authority over the devil when he freely ordered: “Go away, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10).
With the argument that Jesus is the Archangel Michael, the Watchtower Society also refers to another verse that does not use Michael’s name but says that “For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first… “(1 Thessalonians 4:16, TNM).
However, the expression “with the voice of an archangel” simply means the trumpet of God, proclaiming the coming of the Lord, not that the Lord is an archangel. Remind Jehovah’s Witnesses that none of the verses he tried to use as evidence comes close to suggesting that Jesus Christ is the Archangel Michael. Instead, the Scripture clearly teaches the opposite: namely, that the Son of God is superior to angels.
The entire first chapter of the Hebrews is devoted to this subject. Invite the Witness to read the first chapter of the Hebrews with you, pausing to point out the stark contrast between the angels and the Son of God. “To which angel has God ever said: You are my Son…? When he brings his firstborn into the world, saying: All the angels of God worship him” (Hebrews 1: 5). Remind Jehovah’s Witnesses that angels continually refused to be worshiped “Be careful! Don’t do this! … worship God”(Revelation 22:8-9 NWT), but the Father’s command regarding that Son is: “Let all the angels of God worship him.” (Hebrews 1: 6). This was how the Watchtower’s New World Translation was read for about 20 years until the society changed it in 1970 to be “reverence for him” instead of “worship,” which was part of their ongoing campaign to get rid of them. The Bible has all the clues on the deity of Christ.
By providing compelling evidence that Jesus Christ is not an angel, you have laid a good foundation. You’re now facing the question of who Jesus really is, and you’ve shown that the Watchtower Society is misleading and even resorting to changing the Scriptures. You are now much better at spreading the gospel further.