Have you ever encountered those annoying people who will knock on your door in a peaceful Saturday morning to convince you to…er… nope I’m not talking about Electrolux salesmen and Avon ladies. I am talking about those members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Now, these traveling salesmen of faith are saying to atheists to keep their ideas to themselves. What? Wait a minute there buddy, who’s the one tapping on windows to give (or sell) those nifty little magazines and pamphlets?
In their November 2010 issue, it seems the Watchtower Society has a lot to say about atheism (really?). Oh…yes it was on the Awake! Magazine. You know…that magazine who said that the Bible has 50,000 errors…I think it is their September 8, 1957 issue. Anyway, let see why atheism is pissing them off.
Let’s talk about what this Jehovah’s Witnesses are first.
Like those other Christian churches, JW (I’ll just call it JW, to save typing space) claims that they will restore Christianity to its original doctrines and practices. The organization adopted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931 to emphasize the belief that the most accurate translation of the personal name of God in the Hebrew Scriptures is “Jehovah” (Ps. 83:18), and that as believers, they are his “witnesses” (Is. 43:10; Acts 1:8). Charles Taze Russell and his associates (whoever they are) founded the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1872. Russell’s church was called Millennial Danism and later as The International Bible Students.
Russell’s doctrines were heavily influenced by G. Jonas Wendel (1815 - 1873), a zealous Adventist who believed that Christ Second Coming would happen in 1874. In Chapter 5 pp. 43-44 of his book Proclaiming the Lord’s Return (1870-1914) Russell said, “The twig, though, had been trained by God-fearing parents; it was inclined "in the direction of the Lord."
While he was searching for the “truth” in 1869, something happens that reestablished Charles’ faith. According to the story, while walking along near the Russells’ store on Federal Street, Charles heard religious singing coming from a basement hall. In his own words, this is what took place: Seemingly by accident, one evening I dropped into a dusty, dingy hall, where I had heard religious services were held, to see if the handful who met there had anything more sensible to offer than the creeds of the great churches. There, for the first time, I heard something of the views of Second Adventists [Advent Christian Church], the preacher being Mr. Jonas Wendell . . . Thus, I confess indebtedness to Adventists as well as to other denominations.”
So that it how it all started…then came those prophesies.
It seems Russell has this habit of not keeping his doctrine straight – he keeps changing his prophetic claims. He claimed that believers would be ‘called away bodily’ in 1878 but when this didn't happen he corrected his ‘explanation’, saying what he really meant (?) is that believers that die in the year 1878 and onwards will go straight to Paradise instead of waiting for the Second Coming of Christ in their graves.
He also said that you could gain enlightenment just by reading his 6-volume Studies in the Scriptures – Yes! You do not need to study the Bible.
In 1908 to 1916, he sold his ‘Miracle Wheat’ through the pages of his Watchtower Magazine. For your information, this Miracle Wheat was 60 times the price of ordinary wheat (at $60 a bushel!). The Brooklyn Eagle exposed this fraud.
In a court case that Russell filed against Reverend J.S. Ross of Hamilton, Ontario, he claimed (under oath) that he understands Greek, but it was proven in court that he did not even know the Greek alphabet.
Russell (again) claimed that Christ will return in 1914, and the resurrection of the ‘heavenly organization’ will follow in 1918 (and believing that the “Great Pyramid of Gizeh” was “God’s stone witness” which proved Russell’s claims that “the time of the end”). Again, nothing happened, but Russell was a very stubborn man. He again insisted that Jesus did return…invisible to human eyes (Oh for crying out loud!). Nevertheless, he keeps on yapping about the end times that will occur in 1915 and 1916. In fact, Watchtower has a history of proclaiming the end of the world on several dates: 1914, 1915, 1918, 1925, 1940’s, and in 1975.
Russell believed that all 144,000 members of the JW have a place in heaven. This caused a problem when church membership swelled. New York attorney Joseph Rutherford, who replaced Russell after his death in 1916 wrote a ‘new’ seventh volume of Studies in the Scripture announcing that once heaven is full, the excess members of the church will re-populate the new Earth.
When Rutherford died in 1942, he was succeeded by Nathan Homer Knorr, who commissioned a new translation of the Bible – the New World Translation that incorporated all the JW doctrines.