Why I’m Not a Jehovah Witness
Trinityexamined.com contains references to Jehovah Witness (JW). In some instances they are defended from false attacks by Trinitarians. While I’m in agreement with some of their teachings, I strongly disagree with others.
Nothing written here is in distain towards JW’s. I love them and hope that this writing can be used by the Lord to help them see the error of the Watchtower Society.
To follow are some reasons why I’m not a Jehovah Witness:
1. Jehovah Witnesses must submit to the teachings of the Watch Tower Society
Jehovah Witnesses’ (JW) assemblies (Kingdom Halls) are not independent and autonomous under the headship of Jesus Christ. While JW churches have plurality of elders, these elders must submit to the teachings and policies of the Watch Tower Society. So elders in JW churches are not free as believer priests to interpret Scripture for doctrine, or to make any decisions outside the scope of the Watch Tower Society.
The Watch Tower Society has a governing body of seven men located in New York. These men decide significant matters for all their churches (Kingdom Halls) to include, doctrine, spending, publications, policies, outreach, and much more.
A fundament belief of Christians is that the Bible is the final authority for faith and practice. The Bible contains prescriptive teachings and practices for believers within local churches.
The book of Acts details the spread of Christianity over approximately 30 years. Within the book of Acts, to include the New Testament, there is no Bible evidence that a ruling body heading an organization (Watch Tower Society) should be the final authority over churches, for the purpose of doctrine, policies, printings, digital publications, financial administration, global expansion, etc.
The Watch Tower Society is incompatible with New Testament church practice. In Acts 6 the church encountered a problem where widows were neglected in the daily distribution of food. The church did not consult an outside organization for a solution. A decision was made within the church by the 12 disciples for the distribution of food. This account in Acts has application within context for local churches.
To establish legitimacy for their governing body, the Watch Tower Society provides Acts 15:2 https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/governing-body
Acts 15 describes a problem that Paul and Barnabas experienced at the church in Antioch. A conflict arose regarding circumcision and salvation. In verse 3, it says, “So, being sent on their way by the church …” So the church was involved in the decision to send Paul, Barnabas and others to Jerusalem.
They didn’t travel to Jerusalem to meet with a governing body. Within the Jerusalem church were the Apostles (some may have been martyred by then) who were pillars in the Jerusalem church. Verse 4 says, “they were welcomed by the church, the apostles and elders.” The church made a decision (including the apostles and elders). In verse 22 after a decision is made, it says, “Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers.”
There is no justification from this passage for a governing body and the Watch Tower Society, which all active JW’s must pledge allegiance to.
Because JW’s churches are under the authority of the Watch Tower Society, their members don’t have freedom in Christ to disagree with their doctrine and are limited in Christian liberty. Believers within these churches who object to the council’s authority (by disagreeing with doctrine, not showing allegiance, etc.) are subject to disfellowship and being shunned.
2. Those Disfellowshipped are Shunned to Include One’s Children
Once a person is baptized into the JW Organization, they are considered a lifelong member. It can be difficult to leave because of social ties, a sense of family, pressure to conform, etc. But the greatest loss experienced by those disfellowshipped can be shunning.
Different actions can lead a JW to being disfellowshipped. These activities include disagreeing with the Watchtower’s extreme doctrine, smoking, immortality, etc.
Once disfellowshipped, shunning is required as set forth by the Watchtower Society. This shunning takes place as if those disfellowshipped no longer exist.
Suppose a family are all Jehovah Witnesses. If a 20 year-old son/daughter is disfellowshipped, this person is no longer spoken to by their parents, brothers and sisters, JW relatives, friends, etc. This isolation can cause extreme emotional suffering. This person can no longer participate in the lives of their immediate family to include weddings, funerals, seeing grandkids, picnics, etc. The family and friends of those disfellowshipped can treat him/her as if they are dead.
The Bible has guidelines for treating those who leave the faith. But these principles are incompatible with the severe rules from the Watchtower Society.
For further research on this disgraceful practice, please visit this link:
3. The Watch Tower Society forbids their members from accepting blood transfusions
The Bible has instructions for believers for food, drink, and esteeming one day higher than others (Romans 14). While the context is about food, drink and holy days, Paul provides principles that are applicable to other areas of Christian liberty. Some of the principles are:
- We are not to judge others based their use of Christian liberty (v. 13).
- Christians will someday be held accountable for how they used their Christian liberty (v. 10-12).
- Christian liberty decisions are to be based on faith. When Christian liberty decisions are exercised without faith it is sin (v. 23).
Christians and Blood Transfusions
The modern practice of accepting blood transfusions for our health or the heath of our children is not found in Scripture. So the question of use is subject to biblical principles within Christian liberty. Christian liberty is an individual decision not dependent on the Watch Tower Society.
The Watch Tower Society has drafted reasons why their followers are forbidden blood transfusions:
“This is a religious issue rather than a medical one. Both the Old and New Testaments clearly command us to abstain from blood. (Genesis 9:4 [consumption of raw meat]; Leviticus 17:10 [eating blood]; Deuteronomy 12:23 [consumption of blood or raw meat]; Acts 15:28, 29 [abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from consumption of blood & and meat that was strangled]) Also, God views blood as representing life. (Leviticus 17:14) So we avoid taking blood not only in obedience to God but also out of respect for him as the Giver of life.” Source for quote: https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/jehovahs-witnesses-why-no-blood-transfusions/
The first sentence above contains error. While not submitting to a blood transfusion can be a religious issue for some, it is a medical issue despite the Watchtower’s claim. They continue, “Both the Old and New Testaments clearly command us to abstain from blood” (this quote is followed by verses).
While both Testaments command Christians to obtain from blood, the context of these passage don’t comment on blood transfusions. The quote continues, “So we avoid taking blood not only in obedience to God but also out of respect for him as the Giver of life.” Because these passages don’t comment on blood transfusions, it’s wrong to say that it is “in obedience to God,” unless one is forbidden based on Christian liberty. Finally, because Christians recognize that life is in the blood, we should also acknowledge that blood transfusions have the potential to save lives.
One of the most foundational principles of Biblical interpretation is that God’s Word has application within the scope of its literary and historical context. Because these passages don’t comment on blood transfusions, it’s up to each Christian to decide for themselves and their children within Christian liberty.
Because of the death of Jesus Christ, the veil of the temple was ripped from top to bottom. Man now has direct access to God through the shed blood of God’s Son. While it’s wise to seek godly council from elders and mature Christians, the priesthood of the believer makes each one of us ultimately accountable for our freedom.
4. The Watch Tower Society forbids their members from celebrating Birthdays
The Bible doesn’t forbid birthday celebrations. The JW’s website provides reasons why their followers are forbidden this practice. The following quotes are from their website: https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/birthdays/
The first reason is “Birthday celebrations have pagan roots.” They provide a quote from the Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend. But this dictionary is not about established facts but folklore, mythology and legends. In other words, there is no credible evidence form this book that the first birthday celebration originated from pagan practices.
For the sake of argument, if pagan roots for the first birthday celebrations were substantiated, this alone doesn’t forbid Christians from celebrating (within Christian liberty) another year of life.
The second reason provided is that “the early Christians did not celebrate birthdays.” What we have here is an argument from silence. Such arguments don’t prove or disprove anything. Arguments of silence are considered by many as fallacious.
Many Christians today meet inside a building and not homes. Many churches use a PA system, padded pews, and overhead projections. Just because the Bible is silent regarding these practices doesn’t endorse or prohibit them. If the first person to own a car used it for satanic rituals, this fact alone doesn’t forbid Christians from owning cars (within Christian liberty).
Most Christians who celebrate birthdays do so in gratitude to God for an extra, undeserved year of life. Birthdays can be celebrated in ways that honors or dishonors Christ. The practice of celebrating birthdays is a Christian liberty issue. The JW governing council (or the organization itself) has no business prohibiting birthday celebrations.
Here is the third reason why they forbid birthday celebrations: “The only commemoration that Christians are required to keep involves, not a birth, but a death—that of Jesus. (Luke 22:17-20) This should not be surprising, for the Bible says that “the day of death is better than the day of birth.” (Ecclesiastes 7:1) By the end of his life on earth, Jesus had made a good name with God, making the day of his death more important than the day of his birth.—Hebrews 1:4.”
There is “spin” inside this answer. Birthday celebrations (in Christian liberty) are not about something “required to keep.” Secondly, we are not required to keep “a death”. Our time on earth is surrendered to God. He decides how much time we have left. Finally, the fact that our death as believers is more important than our birth has nothing to do (contextually) with the question of birthday celebrations.
Here is their final reason for birthday celebrations: “The Bible never refers to a servant of God celebrating a birthday. This is not simply an oversight, for it does record two birthday celebrations by those not serving God. However, both of those events are presented in a bad light.—Genesis 40:20-22; Mark 6:21-29.”
Again we have an argument of silence (“the Bible never refers to ..”) which may be fallacious. Using their template one could say that the New Testament never refers to a Christian using a musical instrument, therefore, music instruments are forbidden. But this argument (based on silence alone) may be fallacious. Silence on this topic doesn’t inform us if God does or does not approve of using musical instruments in our worship.
The next point they make in the quote is that because the Bible has two birthday celebrations in a negative light, then all birthday celebrations are forbidden. But when these verses are interpreted in context, they are not teaching that birthday celebrations are forbidden. These passages are historical accounts of the unsaved acting wickedly during birthday celebrations.
The wickedness of the unsaved reflected hearts that don’t fear/know God. Christians today who celebrate birthdays have a choice. They can glorify God or dishonor Him who graciously granted them another year of life. Each year of life is a privilege granted by God’s grace.
5. The Watch Tower Society Forbids Christmas Day Celebrations
Another rule imposed on JW’s by their organization is a prohibition to celebrate Christmas. The official source used for quotes is the following:
The first reason provided is that “Jesus commanded that we commemorate his death, not his birth.—Luke 22:19, 20.” Once again an argument of silence is used which doesn’t prove or disprove anything.
The second reason provided is that “Jesus’ apostles and early disciples did not celebrate Christmas. The New Catholic Encyclopedia says that ““the Nativity feast was instituted no earlier than 243 [C.E.],”” more than a century after the last of the apostles died.” The Bible, nor history informs us with certainty everything that took place in the past. We honestly don’t know if some kind of celebrations took place annually by the disciples and/or early church to commemorate the birth of Jesus. While it seems unlikely (in my opinion) that the disciples celebrated Christmas, this unlikelihood doesn’t forbid Christmas celebrations (within Christian liberty). Also, the inception of the traditional nativity scene doesn’t inform us when the first Christmas celebration took place.
A more important question for Christians –does my liberty in Christ allow me to celebrate the birth of God’s Son? It’s up to each Christian to search the Scriptures and pray for discernment in matters of Christian liberty.
The next reason provided, is that “There is no proof that Jesus was born on December 25; his birth date is not recorded in the Bible.” Christians who celebrate Christmas are fully aware (with a few exceptions) that the birth of Jesus didn’t take place on this date. Christians celebrate communions without knowing what day Jesus died and rose again. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus once a year. There is nothing special about December 25th. The birth of Jesus can be celebrated any day of the year.
The final reason that JW are forbidden to celebrate Christmas is that “we believe that Christmas is not approved by God because it is rooted in pagan customs and rites.—2 Corinthians 6:17.” Since the Watchtower Organization supposedly bases their decision on “pagan customs and rites,” they should provide the reference for verification. But they provide non. If the first Christmas day was “rooted in pagan customs,” this in itself doesn’t make it evil for Christians to set aside an annual day to celebrate the humble birth of their Lord and Savior. Finally, the passage provided has nothing to do with Christmas Day celebrations.
Under the subtitle “Why Make Christmas and Issue?,” more reasons are provided: “Many still celebrate Christmas despite knowing about its pagan roots and lack of support from the Bible.” Once again, no support for their claim is provided. It’s unlikely that pagans set aside a day to celebrate the birth of Christ whom they didn’t worship; it seems more likely that a Christian was first to celebrate the birth of Christ.
The “lack of support from the Bible” is unreasonable. Those who make these legalistic rules within the Watchtower organization drive cars and do hundreds of things everyday that “lack support from the Bible.” Why does the Watch Tower Society require permission to celebrate the greatest gift God gave to sinful man?
The unsound reasons continues, “Such persons could ask: Why should Christians take such an unpopular stance? Why make it an issue? The Bible encourages us to think for ourselves, to use our ““power of reason.”” (Romans 12:1, 2) It teaches us to value the truth. (John 4:23, 24).”
It appears that they think they are the only Christians when they say, “Why should Christians take such an unpopular stance?” A person’s choice to celebrate Christmas doesn’t determine their eternal destiny. The statement that “the Bible encourages us to think for ourselves,” is an outrage because it comes from an organization that forbids Christian liberty. The Bible does teach believers “to value the truth,” but truth comes from God’s Word, not the Watch Tower Society.
The quote continues, “So while we are interested in how others view us, we adhere to Bible principles even if it means that we become unpopular. Although we choose not to celebrate Christmas ourselves, we respect each person’s right to decide for himself in this matter. We do not interfere in the Christmas celebrations of others.”
After providing no Biblical principles that forbid Christmas celebrations, they claim to “adhere to Bible principles” and to “respect each person’s right to decide for himself,” when they don’t allow their followers to decide for themselves!
6. The Watchtower Society Continues to Covers-Up Their Past Failed Prophecies (1914 & 1975).
In the Old Testament the punishment for false prophets was the death penalty (Deuteronomy 18:20; Zechariah 13:3). While we are no longer under the Old Testament law, nevertheless, the severity of false prophecies is clear.
The Bible is clear that no man can predict the coming of Christ (Matthew 24:36, 25:13; Mark 13:32; 1 Thessalonians 5:2). The Watchtower Organization has engaged in date setting for Christ’s coming (1914 & 1975). Worse yet, they continue to cover-up their failed prophecies.
The Watchtowers 1914 Failed Prophecy and Cover Up
The Watchtowers 1975 Failed Prophecy and Cover Up
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