Similar Religions to Jehovah's Witnesses
"Where else would I go?" is a question that holds huge power over the mind of a Jehovah's Witnesses. However, this question is not unique to followers of the Watchtower Society; it is common amongst members of high control religions. A key to moving on is for the member to understand that there are many groups that similar to their own. This section presents information on several religions remarkably similar to Jehovah's Witnesses;
Jehovah's Witnesses are led to believe they are unique, different from all other religious groups.
"Finally, Milton Henschel, the Society’s president, addressed the audience of 2,734 on the subject “Jehovah’s Visible Organization Is Unique.” What makes God’s organization something without equal? It is neither its size nor its power but the fact that it is guided by God’s righteous regulations and judicial decisions. In ancient times it was Jehovah’s people, the nation of Israel, that were entrusted with his sacred pronouncements, which made that nation unique. (Romans 3:1, 2) Today, Jehovah’s organization is united as it operates under the guidance of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28:19, 20) It is prospering, growing. Is there another organization on earth whose Governing Body consults God’s Word, the Bible, before making important decisions? In these and other ways, Jehovah’s visible organization is truly unique." Watchtower 1996 Dec 1 pp.22-23
"Don’t you agree that if we place the “Mystery” book with persons they will recognize this difference between Jehovah’s organization and the churches?" Kingdom Ministry 1970 May p.4
However, most people know little about Jehovah's Witnesses, and even experts in the field classify them alongside the other nineteenth century American churches. In Evangelicalism: An Americanized Christianity, Richard G. Kyle describes them as falling outside of "historic Christianity", alongside Mormons and Adventists.
"A host of such movements developed in the nineteenth century. Many fall outside the framework of historic Christianity - for example, Mormonism, the Shakers, Oneida Perfectionists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Christian Science." p.71
"The Jehovah's Witnesses, Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), and Seventh-Day Adventists all had belief systems different from mainstream Christianity. But they have a dynamic populist appeal that has attracted millions." p.98
"The churches that grew since the late 1960's were virtually all conservative - Protestant evangelical and fundamental, neo-Pentecostal, Seventh-day Adventist, Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, and Orthodox Jewish bodies." p.153
The 1800's were a time for founding Bible Society's and distribution of Bible literature was on a scale never previously seen. Numerous new religions arose, including:
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
- Southern Baptist Convention
- Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
- Community of Christ (RLDS)
- Baha'i Faith
- Seventh-day Adventist Church
- New Apostolic Church
- Salvation Army
- Union of American Hebrew Congregations
- Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science)
- The Church of God (Seventh Day)
- Christian and Missionary Alliance
- Unity Church / Unity School of Christianity
- Church of God in Christ
- The Watchtower Society
The belief that Watchtower followers are solely worthy of salvation requires a Witnesses to hold to the perception that their beliefs and conduct are truly unique. This proves their special place as lone monopolisers of truth and salvation. It is regularly stated that no other religion has an accurate understanding of the Bible, in fact; few other people truly love God.
"Unlike most in the world, Jehovah's Witnesses highly treasure their good relationship with God." Watchtower 2000 Oct 15 p.31
An examination of other religious groups brings reality to the Watchtower claim that they are unique in guiding people in truth, unique in love (and unique in methods of control).
All Christian religions have a level of similarity, even the Catholics so venomously denounced in the Watchtower. Most develop a creed that goes beyond the Bible. Many state that their way is the only one that accurately follows the Bible and only way to salvation. They do this by focusing on the areas of differentiation rather than the areas of similarity, much like two sales people of two products that both achieve a clients end needs.
These are all American religions that were started within the last two centuries by charismatic leaders, disillusioned with existing religions and interested in eschatology. Though each one differs on one or two core doctrines their similarities make distinguishing one over the other as the sole purveyor of truth quite impossible. If devoted theologians can not agree on doctrine, what hope has the humble follower to decide one religious doctrine superior to another?
An interesting religion is the Worldwide Church of God. They were exceptionally similar doctrinally to Jehovah's Witnesses. On the death of Armstrong the religion officially apologised for many errant teachings and have now become main stream evangelical Christian. This raises the question 'was God's Holy Spirit originally directing them to be similar to the Witnesses and did Satan take over for them to divert from the path? Or can a religion hold similar doctrine as the Witnesses, yet come to these understandings without the help of Holy Spirit?'
The parable about the faithful and discreet slave is shown by Witnesses to prove that there have been a Witness slave class for the last 2000 years dispensing food to the righteous. Yet there has been no religion found over the last 2000 years that is the same as the Witnesses. The Christadelphians are closer to Witnesses than any other religions at any time in history. If religions of the dark ages that differed substantially from the Witnesses are said to be part God's true organization, could this mean that the Christadelphians, who barely differ are also God's true organization and directed by Holy Spirit?
A look at the following table shows that the key doctrines of Trinity, Soul, Salvation, Time prophecies and Morals are almost the same for all four religions that started at a similar time, borrowing similar ideas from similar people.
|Mormon||Jehovah's Witnesses||Seventh-day Adventist||Christadelphians|
|Founder||Joseph Smith||Charles Russell||Ellen White||Dr Thomas|
|Trinity||No||No||Yes, though some groups reject the Trinity||No|
|Narrow Salvation||Only one true religion||Only one true religion||Only one true religion||Only one true religion|
|Salvation Requirements||Faith, repentance, baptism, continued righteousness||Faith, repentance, baptism, continued righteousness||Faith, repentance, baptism, continued righteousness||Faith, repentance, baptism, continued righteousness|
|Armageddon||Not the end of this earth||Not the end of this earth||Not the end of this earth||Not the end of this earth|
|Armageddon||Destruction of most of mankind||Destruction of most of mankind||Destruction of most of mankind||Destruction of most of mankind|
|Go to war||Yes||No||No||No|
|Promote Love and Strong Community||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Strict Moral Code||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
In Who Wrote the New Testament? Burton L. Mack states;
"A study by David Kelsey (1975) has shown that, as one moves from one theological system to another among the Christian traditions in America, the selection of biblical texts said to be basic for the system also changes Even though the Bible is treated as a book with a single message, everyone understands that it must be studied as if the message were hidden or unclear. It is treated as if it were a collection of divine oracles that have to be decoded in order to arrive at the truth they contain."
Different understandings of the Bible are dependant on which set of scriptures are emphasised. A high control religion feels the need to make truth about doctrine, rather than love of God, allowing their unique understanding to be essential for salvation. Yet the Bible is not a book of doctrine. A person can not go to a chapter in the Bible and find the concise summary of the doctrine of the Soul, or any other doctrine. An important step in breaking free from the mind control of any high control group, Watchtower Society included, is to realise that the group is not unique. An even more important step to moving on is to accept that as humans we can not hope to find all the answers.
For a more detailed look at each of these religions go to the following links. Most importantly look at Mormons, as this shows that the reasoning held by Mormons and former Mormons shows that they go through an identical thought process to Jehovahs Witnesses.
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2013