|core concepts | changed teachings | questionable doctrine | scandal | interesting | quotes|
Jehovah's Witnesses worshipped Jesus until 1954, after which they were told such worship was idolatrous. This made them a polytheistic religion for most of their history. The core to religion is God, and to change the God you worship is to change the very essence and basis of the religion.
Of the countless alterations in Witness doctrine, the one regarding the Worship of Jesus is most important of all. The major issues concerning the history and doctrine of the Jehovah's Witnesses are prevalent within the Watchtower doctrine of Jesus, clearly highlighting the manner in which the leaders operate. These pandemic symptoms are threefold.
Changed Teaching on Jesus
Russell taught that we should worship Jesus and the initial Watchtower Charter's specified that establishment of the Watchtower Society was to promote the worship of Jehovah and Jesus.
Yet since the 1950's, worshipping Jesus became regarded as wrongful idolatry.
"It seems clear that His Divinity was retained in humanity because He repeatedly spoke of Himself as having come down from heaven, and because He, though passing through trial and sorrow as a man, was yet possessed of the authority and exercised the prerogatives of a God. He was the object of unreproved worship even when a babe, by the wise men who came to see the new-born King. Matt. 2:2-11. Even the angels delighted to do Him honor. "When He bringeth the first-begotten into the world, He saith, "And let all the angels of God worship Him." Heb. 1:6. He never reproved any one for acts of worship offered to Himself, but when Cornelius offered such service to Peter--the leading apostle-- "he took him up, saying, stand up; I myself also am a man." .... Had Christ not been more than a man the same reason would have prevented from receiving worship...." Zion's Watch Tower 1880 Oct pp.2-3
Rutherford continued this teaching.
"Jehovah God commands all to worship Christ Jesus because Christ Jesus is the express image of his Father, Jehovah, and because he is the Executive Officer of Jehovah always carrying out Jehovah's purpose (Heb.:3-6)." Watchtower 1939 Nov. 15 p.339 Click for scan
Knorr continued to teach we should worship Jesus and the 1940's Watchtower articles still stated that Jesus was to be worshipped.
"Now, at Christ's coming to reign as king in Jehovah's capital organization Zion, to bring in a righteous new world, Jehovah makes him infinitely higher than the godly angels or messengers and accordingly commands them to worship him. Since Jehovah God now reigns as King by means of his capital organization Zion, then whosoever would worship Him must also worship and bow down to Jehovah's Chief One in that capital organization, namely, Christ Jesus, his Co-regent on the throne of The Theocracy." Watchtower 1945 Oct 15 p.313
In 1945, Knorr amended the Watchtower's legal Charter. Included within the Charter was the statement that the purpose of the Watchtower Society is to promote the worship of Jehovah and Jesus.
"The purposes of this Society are: To act as the servant of and the legal world-wide governing agency for that body of Christian persons known as Jehovah's Witnesses to preach the gospel of God's kingdom under Christ Jesus unto all nations as a witness to the name, word and supremacy of Almighty Good JEHOVAH; to print and distribute Bibles and to disseminate Bible truths in various languages by means of making and publishing literature containing information and comment explaining Bible truths and prophecy concerning establishment of Jehovah's kingdom under Christ Jesus to authorize and appoint agents, servants, employees, teachers, instructors, evangelists, missionaries and ministers to go forth to all the world publicly and from house to house to preach and teach Bible truths to persons willing to listen by leaving with such persons said literature and by conducting Bible studies thereon to improve men, women and children mentally and morally by Christian missionary work and by charitable and benevolent instruction of the people on the Bible and incidental scientific, historical and literary subjects to establish and maintain private Bible schools and classes for gratuitous instruction of men and women in the Bible, Bible literature and Bible history; to teach, train, prepare and equip men and women as ministers, missionaries, evangelists, preachers, teachers and lecturers to provide and maintain homes, places and buildings for gratuitous housing of such students, lecturers, teachers and minister; to furnish gratuitously to such students, lecturers, teachers, educators and ministers suitable meals and lodging and to prepare, support, maintain and send out to various parts of the world Christian missionaries, teachers and instructors in the Bible and Bible literature and for public Christian worship of Almighty God and Christ Jesus; to arrange for and hold local and world-wide assemblies for such worship to use or operate radio broadcasting stations for preaching this gospel of the kingdom; and to do any and all other lawful things that its Board of Directors shall deem expedient for the purposes stated." Click for scan.
Following is a snippet from the 1945 Charter where it states to worship Christ Jesus.
It was not until 1999 that worship of Jesus was finally removed to simply state "arrange for and hold assemblies for religious worship;"
Worship of Jesus Becomes Idolatry
In the 1950's, the Watchtower changed their doctrine on Jesus to coincide with the release of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.
"Should we worship Jesus?
On occasion the Watchtower use misquotes to hide its history or prove doctrines. For example, look at the way in which the charter is quoted since the doctrine was changed.
"for public Christian worship of Almighty God … ; to arrange for" Click for scan.
The section of the charter shown above is quoted almost in full in the footnote of the 1971 Watchtower on page 760, altering one small but significant word (which it correctly places in brackets) to significantly hide and change the true meaning of the sentence.
"for public Christian worship of Almighty God [through] Christ Jesus; to arrange for..." Watchtower 1971 Dec 15 p.760
The 1993 Proclaimers book, outlining a history of the Watchtower Society, failed to even admit what is in the Charter.
Current Questionable Doctrine
Up until 1938, the Watchtower title included the words Herald of Christ's Presence.
In 1939, the title of the January 1st issue changed to The Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. On March 1st, 1939 the word Christ was removed and replaced with Jehovah. To this day it is now The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom.
It is interesting to understand why it was originally taught that Jesus is a God worthy of our worship and prayers.
Jesus is a God
John 1:1 "
and the Word was a god."
Jesus was worshipped
The Bible repeatedly says that Jesus was worshipped. The New World Translation is virtually alone in translating the word proskuneo as obeisance. Yet look at the context of the following scripture to understand that the thought given is one of reverential worship.
Hebrews 1:6 "But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: "And let all God's angels do obeisance (proskuneo, worship) to him."
Jesus is our creator
John 1:2-4 "This one was in [the] beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence. What has come into existence by means of him was life, and the life was the light of men."
Jesus was prayed to
Acts 7:59 "And they went on casting stones at Stephen as he made appeal and said: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Stephen prayed to Jesus whilst being stoned to death. Unlike most translations, the New World Translation uses the word appeal instead of prayer. However, the footnote to New World Translation, 1950 edition, states (footnote b: "invocation; prayer"). The Emphatic Diaglott by Benjamin Wilson and published by the Watchtower Society also refers to "the prayer of Stephen" in its' footnote. Regardless of whether Stephen appealed or prayed to Jesus, it is clear what the writer meant. The reason the New World Translation is averse to using the word prayer is that it is an indication of worship.
Can you imagine what would happen today if an elder stood on the platform and prayed to Jesus instead of Jehovah?
"I am Jehovah your God, who have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves. You must not have any other gods against my face."
By current Watchtower teaching, until 1954 Russell and all Jehovah's Witnesses were idolaters, a sin Revelation 21:8 describes as worthy of the second death. If that is the case, they cannot be part of the 144,000 heavenly rulers.
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2013
1800s - Changed Date Doctrine
Watchtower Charter Changes
1. Dec. 15, 1884 Handwritten Charter