and what are their beliefs?”

The sect known  today as the Jehovah’s Witnesses started out in Pennsylvania in 1870 as a Bible  class led by Charles Taze Russell. Russell named his group the “Millennial Dawn  Bible Study.” Charles T. Russell began writing a series of books he called “The  Millennial Dawn,” which stretched to six volumes before his death and contained  much of the theology Jehovah’s Witnesses now hold. After Russell’s death in  1916, Judge J. F. Rutherford, Russell’s friend and successor, wrote the seventh  and final volume of the “Millennial Dawn” series, “The Finished Mystery,” in  1917. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was founded in 1886 and quickly  became the vehicle through which the “Millennial Dawn” movement began  distributing their views to others. The group was known as the “Russellites”  until 1931 when, due to a split in the organization, it was renamed the  “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” The group from which it split became known as the “Bible  students.”

What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe? Close scrutiny of their  doctrinal position on such subjects as the deity of Christ, salvation, the  Trinity, the Holy Spirit, and the atonement shows beyond a doubt that they do  not hold to orthodox Christian positions on these subjects. Jehovah’s Witnesses  believe Jesus is Michael the archangel, the highest created being. This  contradicts many Scriptures which clearly declare Jesus to be God (John 1:1,14, 8:58, 10:30).  Jehovah’s Witnesses believe salvation is obtained by a combination of faith,  good works, and obedience. This contradicts countless scriptures which declare  salvation to be received by grace through faith (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Jehovah’s  Witnesses reject the Trinity, believing Jesus to be a created being and the Holy  Spirit to essentially be the inanimate power of God. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject  the concept of Christ’s substitutionary atonement and instead hold to a ransom  theory, that Jesus’ death was a ransom payment for Adam’s sin.

How do  the Jehovah’s Witnesses justify these unbiblical doctrines? First, they claim  that the church has corrupted the Bible over the centuries; thus, they have  re-translated the Bible into what they call the New World Translation. The  Watchtower Bible and Tract Society altered the text of the Bible to make it fit  their false doctrine, rather than basing their doctrine on what the Bible  actually teaches. The New World Translation has gone through numerous editions,  as the Jehovah’s Witnesses discover more and more Scriptures that contradict  their doctrines.

The Watchtower bases its beliefs and doctrines on the  original and expanded teachings of Charles Taze Russell, Judge Joseph Franklin  Rutherford, and their successors. The governing body of the Watchtower Bible and  Tract Society is the only body in the cult that claims authority to interpret  Scripture. In other words, what the governing body says concerning any  scriptural passage is viewed as the last word, and independent thinking is  strongly discouraged. This is in direct opposition to Paul’s admonition to  Timothy (and to us as well) to study to be approved by God, so that we need not  be ashamed as we correctly handle the Word of God. This admonition, found in 2 Timothy  2:15, is a clear instruction from God to each of His children to be like the  Berean Christians, who searched the Scriptures daily to see if the things they  were being taught lined up with the Word.

There is probably no religious  group that is more faithful than the Jehovah’s Witnesses at getting their  message out. Unfortunately, the message is full of distortions, deceptions, and  false doctrine. May God open the eyes of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the truth of  the gospel and the true teaching of God’s Word.