Jehovah’s Witnesses are an international Christian denomination whose members believe that their faith is the restoration of 1st century Christianity. In areas where they are active, they are commonly known for their door-to-door preaching, their objection to blood transfusion and for not celebrating birthdays and most holidays.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, also known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (with headquarters in Brooklyn, New York), was officially founded in 1884. They adopted the name of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931, under the leadership of Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916).
They reject traditional Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, eternal torment in hell, and the end of the world.
Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses from Uganda and other parts of the world gathered for the first time in Nakivubo Stadium on January 20. The main speaker and preacher was Anthony Morris, who is on the committee of the global governing body of the Jehovah’s Witness group, based in New York, US.
Fred Nyende, one of Uganda’s overseers for Jehovah’s Witnesses, says the denomination was started in 1870 by Bible students in the US who had been disappointed by the existing religious groups. Another Ugandan overseer of Swedish origin, Urban Mattsson, says the major difference between them and other Christian denominations is on the issue of the Trinity. Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that the Trinity is satanic. They teach that the Trinity is a belief in three gods, and thereby, satan-inspired polytheism.
“Sincere persons who want to know the true God and serve him find it a bit difficult to love and worship a complicated, freakish-looking, three-headed God. The clergy who teach such ideas will contradict themselves in the very next breath by stating that God made man in his own image; for certainly no one has ever seen a three-headed human creature.
“We don’t believe that Jesus is God. Rather, we believe he is the most outstanding of all creations,” Nyende explains.
They use Bible verses to support their view that Jesus is not God.
“If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28).
“I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John 20:17).
“The head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3).
“When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one.”
(1 Corinthians 15:28).
Those who believe Jesus to be God also refer to the Bible. “In the beginning was the word, the word was with God, and the word was God.” (John 1:1). John 10:30 says, “I and the Father are one”, while John 14:9 says, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Reverend Elly Wasswa of Kiteezi Church of Uganda says, “The Bible clearly teaches that Christ is God.
The teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses concerning Jesus Christ clearly contradict the teachings of the Bible. Passages such as Philippians 2:5-11 tell us that Jesus Christ, who existed as God, took the bodily form of a humble servant so that He could die on the cross in our place. “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (kurios), to the glory of God the Father.”
Wasswa says any religious group that denies that Jesus is God is not Christian and that it is a cult [sic]. The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus’ second coming happened in 1914. They believe the first created son of God was known as Michael the Archangel. This angel was recreated as a perfect man on earth and named ‘Jesus’. This Jesus died on a torture stake (not a cross), so that men could work their way into God’s Kingdom.
Then angel Michael/Jesus turned his attention to the affairs of earth in 1914 by establishing an invisible heavenly kingdom. This is what is meant by “second coming”. He will never return visibly to the earth, but will rule through his “anointed” or “remnant” group of Jehovah’s Witnesses on earth.
According to Witness theology, a person has one of three possible destinies. The Anointed (144,000) will be in heaven to reign with Jehovah God. The rest of the faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses (not of the 144,000) will live forever on an earthly paradise. Both of these classifications are determined to a great extent on membership in the Watchtower organisation, as well as going door-to-door spreading the message of the Watchtower.
Those people who are not members of the Watchtower organisation will be destroyed by Jehovah God and cease to exist. There is no concept of eternal punishment or hell in Watchtower theology. They also believe that men will have a second chance, after death, to be saved.
They don’t have a clergy class and there are no titles like pastor, apostle, reverend, or bishop. They all call themselves brothers and sisters, with no one above the other in the hierarchy. In support of this position, Witnesses refer to these verses: “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren.
And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ.” Matthew 23:8-10.
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave.” Matthew 20:25-27.
Mattsson says according to last year’s counting report, the active Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country have reached 43,000, with over 150 kingdom halls (churches). Globally, they now have 6.7 million believers.
A Witness will tell you that: