Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 9, 1983

Who Are "Jehovah's Witnesses"?

James W. Sasser

The group parading under the name "Jehovah's Witnesses" claims that they are the ones of Isaiah 43:12, "Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah." The fact remains that merely calling oneself something doesn't make one that. If these are witnesses, they are false witnesses because they deny major portions of the word of God. If Isa. 43:12 demands that those who are the true witnesses of Jehovah call themselves specifically that, then Jehovah didn't have any witnesses until 1931 when this cult assumed this name. Think of it: thousands of years and no witnesses for God until these people came along! And by the same token, God would have no witnesses today because those who call themselves such do not give true testimony to His word.

Jesus told his disciples: "Ye shall be witnesses unto me...." (Acts 1:8), yet we nowhere find them calling themselves "Christ's Witnesses." To the contrary, read Acts 11:26; 28:28; 1 Peter 4:16. A witness is one that has seen something or can testify to something. Paul was a witness of what he had seen, heard, and that which was supernaturally revealed to him by the Lord. (Acts 26:18) The apostles were eye-witnesses of the resurrected Christ. (Acts 1:22) Rutherford and Russell, nor any of their followers qualify in any of these particulars. They have seen nothing that anyone else might not see, except, perhaps, the blinding perversions of the system of no hell, no soul, no immortality, no torment, no heavenly kingdom, no resurrection, no gospel conditions of pardon today, no open door of salvation, etc.

Charles Taze Russell, "Pastor Russell," was born near Pittsburg, Pa., on Feb. 18, 1852. He was brought up by religious parents and in youth warned people to "flee the wrath of hell." Later he fell under the influence of an infidel and lost his faith. He claimed to have regained it and started a religion of his own — a religion on which he grew immensely wealthy. He preached that the kingdom of the Lord would be established in 1874. Later he changed the date to 1914 preaching that at that time the Lord would come and a thousand years of peace would begin on earth. Pastor Russell wrote five volumes of "Millennial Dawn" later published under the title "Studies in the Scriptures." He claimed to have discovered some "miracle wheat" which he sold to his dupes at $30 per bushel. This wheat was low in quality according to government tests. The Brooklyn Eagle exposed this fraud. Mr. Russells' character as a man was nothing to boast about. The courts of Pennsylvania ruled that he tried to perpetrate a fraud upon his wife and denied his pleas of being penniless when his wife sued him for divorce. It later developed that he had transferred $217,000.00 to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, of which he was president, seemingly with the intent to avoid paying his wife alimony. His wife obtained her divorce from him on the account of his unmanly conduct and gross familiarity with other women. Open court testimony concerning his character recorded him saying of himself, "I am like a jellyfish; I float around here and there; I touch this and that one, and if she responds, I take her to me, and if not, I float to others." But in spite of his character, hundreds of thousands of zealous and sincere persons have entrusted their eternal destinies to the doctrines he taught. If Jesus Christ had had such a spotted and checkered character as that of Russell, would you pay any attention to His teaching? Friends, why follow such a man and his doctrine?

Charles Russell died on Oct. 31, 1916, on a train near Pampa, Texas. "Judge" J. F. Rutherford took charge of his followers and wrote a book called "Millions Now Living Will Never Die." (1920) This book was later taken off the market. Rutherford had a mansion built in Southern California for Abraham to occupy as soon as the millennium starts. He occupied it in the meantime — and died. These people have gone under various names: Russellism, Rutherfordism, Millennial Dawnism, International Bible Students, Jehovah's Witnesses. They preach a mixture of Unitarianism, Universalism, Restorationism, Second Chanceism, Swedborgianism and Annihilationism. They deceive the ignorant and unlearned and are always telling of a "great calamity" just ahead. They teach that all earthly government is of the devil. Rom. 13 says that it is ordained of God. "The Commander to the Peoples," a booklet distributed by this sect declares: "Christ did not begin his kingdom at the time that he ascended to heaven and sat down at God's right hand." (p. 20) "It was established A. D. 1914." (p. 21) Paul declared he was and the Colossians were in the kingdom (Col. 1:13); that the kingdom was being received. (Heb. 12:28) Jesus said the kingdom would come during the lifetime of people then listening to him. (Mk. 9:1) It was established on Pentecost of Acts 2 as all Bible scholars know. John said that he was in the kingdom. (Rev. 1:9)

— 103 Margaret Street, Joliet, Illinois