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Kamis, 22 Oktober 2015

Jehovah's Witnesses

 Jehovah's Witnesses

  1. Introduction
The first time I read the Watch Tower booklet or magazine, I almost could not recognize that it is a cult. The teaching looked familiar with us because they draw the principles from the bible. It also appears as harmless, friendly, provide a beautiful pictures to illustrate their teaching. But when we draw closer to their teaching we will find some differences in their foundational teachings of Bible. Especially for ordinary Christians who were not familiar with their bible, they will easy to be confuse with the doctrines presented by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I remember of the book of Galatians where Paul remind Galatians church about some people who try to “turning you to a different gospel” (Gal 1:6), and “.. throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ”. It is the same case with Jehovah's witness. And as A Christian, we have to be ready to give our apologetics to encounter the teaching of Jehovah’s Witness which will be come to our door. And it is our responsibility to help our brothers and sisters who being in the trap of Jehovah's witness teaching.
It is one of the very active religious movements in the world. They go from door to door to share their “gospel” and invite people to believe to their teaching. In their website Jehovah’s Witness presented the statistic facts that there are.239 lands where Jehovah’s Witnesses preach, 595 languages in which they publish Bibles and Bible-based literature, 111,719 of Jehovah's Witness Congregations, 7,538,994 ministers who teach the Bible, 19,000,000 people who attend their meetings or conventions, 79,000,00 bibles published by Jehovah’s Witnesses in 116 languages and 20,000,000,000 pieces of Bible-based literature published over the past ten years[1].
  1. History of Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's witnesses is the modern counterpart of the Arians of the fourth century and has adopted almost verbatim the Christological formula of Arian doctrine[2]. Arians affirmed that Jesus was merely the first and greatest of God's creature created in time and elevated to the rank of “a god”. Proposition of Arian proposition: (1) if God the Father gave birth to the Son, Jesus Christ who was born, has origin of existence; (2) therefore, once the Son was not; (3) and therefore He was created out of nothing[3]
Jehovah Witnesses came into existence by Charles Taze Russel (1852-1916). His parents were Presbytherian of Scotch-Irish descent[4]. Charles Taze Russel was the founder and the first president of The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (1896)[5]. Charles brought to existence the organization which is known as Jehovah's Witnesses in 1931[6]. When he was 18 years old, he started a regular bible study of six members in Pittsburgh for following four years. He died on October 31, 1916 and Judge J.F Rutherford elected as the successor of Pastor Russel.
Why. Russell influenced by a writing of a lady named Ellen White that the hell is grave. Russel troubled by some doctrines taught in the church particularly to the doctrine of predestination and eternal punishment[7]. Other two influential person on Jehovah's Witnesses development : Judge J.F Rutherford.

The Source of Authority
The difficulties to deal with Jehovah's witness are, they use almost the same bible with Christians but they use a different translation which designed to support their teachings. They change some part of the bible and the use passages only to support their views and ignore passages that fail to provide their view. Anthony Hoekema stated “The fact that their New World Translation of the Bible is by no means an objective rendering of the sacred text into modern English, but it is a biased translation in which many of the peculiar teachings of the Watch Tower Society are smuggled into the text of the Bible itself[8].
The adherents of Jehovah's witnesses were prohibited to understand the bible without interpretation guide of their leaders, without guidance from their leaders they will be walk into spiritual darkness[9]. Jehovah's witnesses use many Scripture passages, torn out of the context, to buttress the above overall statement[10].

The World View of Jehovah's Witnesses
The Creation. Jehovah Witnesses affirm that God created everything that exist. They opposed all evolutionary Darwin’s theories[11]. In their belief, Jehovah wants the earth to be filled with happy, healthy people. God’s purpose for humanity is that humans have children, extend the boundaries of that garden home earth wide, and take care of the animals[12]. Men were created as a living soul which is combined of two things “dust of the ground” and “the breath of life”.
The Fall.  In the account of the fall of Jehovah’s Witnesses teaching, the Devil[13] through a serpent caused Adam and Eve to disobey God (Genesis 2:17;3:6).  As a result, they eventually died, as God had said they would if they disobeyed. All of human being have inherited a “dent” of imperfection from Adam[14]. After the trouble started in heaven, trouble happened in human life. People get sick and die; they even fight and kill one another.  It is overrun with warring armies, dishonest politicians, hypocritical religious leaders, and hardened criminals. In their perspective, everything went wrong and now become more and more dangerous.
The Remedy. For the remedy of the fallen world, Jehovah God selected Jesus Christ to be Ruler of His heavenly Kingdom, or government[15]. The righteous “new earth” is a society of people who receive God’s approval. In Jehovah's witness teaching, there are two kinds of people who benefit from the ransom of Christ. First is the anointed class, which is applied to 144.000 people who will reign with Christ. Other people are the other sheep, who dedicate themselves to do God's will, being baptized and faithfully carry their dedication[16]
The Kingdom of God. They look for salvation at some future date in Armageddon. But to be confirmed for their salvation, they need to work hard such as reporting hours of service to the Watch Tower, the placing of their books, booklets and magazines to people, all the requirements will secure and assure their place in Armageddon [17]. They believe only by being the member of Jehovah's society they can be save[18]. God will eliminate the wicked world during his war of Armageddon. There will be a new world and no hell. Jehovah is a God of love and would never make people suffer in hell.[19]

3. Some of the Different Teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses to Christian Doctrines
The Trinity. Jehovah's witnesses believe that there is one God in one person, Jehova which literally means “He Causes to Become.” [20]. They believe there is no Trinity. Jehovah's witnesses reject the doctrine of trinity. They belief Jesus is not more than perfect man. Jesus is not equal with God Almighty. As the conclusion, they stated that Satan is the originator of Trinity doctrine[21]. They claimed that it is originated with the ancient Babilonians about 2200 BC[22]. see tentang Allah Tritunggal
The Deity of Jesus Christ. Jehovah Witnesses believe that Jesus was created Heavenly creature. Jesus was Michael the archangel who became a man[23]. Jesus had a beginning, whereas Jehovah God has no beginning or end. They claimed that Christ never even considered trying to be equal to his Father. Jehovah alone is “God Almighty.” (Genesis 17:1) and Jesus has no equal with God-Jehovah [24]. Jehovah performed a miracle when he transferred the life of his firstborn Son from heaven to the womb of a Jewish virgin named Mary.[25] “Jesus is not God,” and thus should not be worshiped by Christians.
The Holy Spirit. For Jehovah's witnesses, the Holy Spirit is not a person and is therefore not one of the Gods of the Trinity. Holy Spirit is only a force which does not have any personal character. Holy Spirit is God's impersonal active force, not alive.
The Resurrection of Christ and the Atonement. Christ rise from the dead was not raised out of the grave a human creature but he was resurrected an invisible spirit[26]. For Jehovah's witness, the ransom by the man “Jesus Christ” does not give the guarantee everlasting life or blessing to any man[27].
The existence of hell and fate of the wicked. For Jehovah's Witnesses, hell is the grave, the tomb. The concept of Hell in Christianity is originated from Hell is from Satan himself. They cannot accept the doctrine about burning hell where the wicked will torture eternally. There are four reasons why they reject the doctrine of hell: because it is un-scriptural, unreasonable, contrary to God's love, and it is repugnant to justice[28]. For them, God is love and it is contradict with the character of God about a Creator who will torture His creation eternally.

III. Apologetic Approach
Philosophical Apologetics
The doctrine of Trinity. The doctrine of Trinity is biblical and the evidence of this doctrine can be seen in the whole Bible. There are various verses in the Bible which exposed about the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost as divine: eternal, Holy, creator of all things, omnipotence, omnipresent, and omniscience. John's Gospel gives us description about the Holy Trinity which Christ is subordinate to the Father (John 14:28; 5:26; 5:30; 7:16) and of the unity between the Father and Son (John 10:30;14:9-10)[29]  . The Son is sent by the Father and the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son (John 3:17, 15:26).
Jesus is equal to God. Our faith in Christianity is to confess the divinity of Jesus that Jesus is our Lord and God. We devote our worship, praise and religious devotion to Jesus, equal as God. He is exist before the creation of the world, He was eternally with God and He is God (John 1:1). This verse in John 1:1 describes about equal relationship between the Father and the Son. Another evidence is that the use of words “I am” by Christ in the Gospel of John in Septuagint translated “I am he”, which is often used by Yahweh Himself, related to Exo 3:14 in which God describes Himself as “I am”[30]Jesus knows human heart; He is omniscience. He knew man's true identity, who we are, he knew what was in a man. He is everywhere, he is omnipresence.  Other verses that we can use for our apologetic approach are John 5:18, Col 1:16-17, Phil 2:8-10; Heb 1:1-3, and Titus 2:13.
We worship Christ. In the Gospel we find that people confessed His deity, worshipped Jesus and He accepted worship of people. Jesus accepted worship from the healed blind-born man (John 9:38).  John the Baptist  said about Jesus: “the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie”; “I testify that this is the Son of God”. Andrew  said “We have found the Messiah” (1:41). Natanael said  “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel”. The Samaritans confessed “we know that this man really is the Savior of the world”. Thomas, the rationalist who needs proof to believe, finally confessed that Jesus is his Lord and his God (John 20:28).
Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit also is equated with God and has interrelation with the Son (John 14-16). Holy Spirit is prescient and unveils futurity, He is absolutely free and independent. He is omnipresent. Holy Spirit descended from heaven on the baptism of Jesus (John 1:32). The Spirit of truth dwelleth with the disciples, and shall be in the disciples (John 14:7). He is eternal, He is Holy. God is a Spirit: and they that worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).  

Cultural Apologetics
Blood transfusion. For Jehovah's Witness, they reject blood transfusion. They prefer medical treatment which is bloodless operation. Their reason based on religious reason rather than medical reason. They claimed Old and New Testaments clearly command to abstain from blood (Gen 9:4; Lev 17:10; Deu 12:23; Acts 15:28-19). Blood is representing life (Leviticus 17:14), and to respect for God who is the Giver of life, they refuse to take blood transfusion.
There was a case of a Jehovah's witness boy who suffered from an aggressive cancer. He has an 80 per cent chance of dying from anaemia if he does not have medical treatment including blood transfusion[31]. He said that any attempt to perform the treatment while he is under anaesthetic would be akin to rape and would violate his beliefs. Another case of Jehovah's witness follower in 2010 a 15 year old British schoolboy refused blood transfusion for religious reason and died at hospital.
The verses that they use Gen 9:4  Lev 17:10; Deu 12:23; Acts 15:28-19, does not refer to human blood or blood transfusion. The contexts are speak about prohibition to eat animal blood, and related to sacrifice and suffering. There are no references from the texts above relating to prohibition human blood transfusion. Blood transfusion could not be in comparative and parallel with eating blood in the texts they used.
In Christianity, love will be the basic foundation of our decision relating to blood transfusion in medical treatment. John 15:3 stated that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”. Jesus Christ is our model of sacrificial offering to God through His blood to give life for us who has been died because of our sin. We need to make a decision which is pro to life because life is the highest priority of human being. We are created in the image of God and to save life is part of our Christian duty.

Pastoral Apologetics
 To deal with Jehovah's witness follower, we need to realize that they are human being with real needs and real feelings. Despite of make a frontal debate with them about Christian doctrines which can caused a never ending heated debate, or end with their refusal to connect with us, we need to develop a more friendly approach to them. They can feel anger, fear, and confusion. We can start with seeing through their perspective and understand their feeling. We can also agree to have bible study with them and discuss about their doctrines in a warm way while explaining the truth in Christianity so that it can be understood by them.
Disfellowshipping is a serious act which the most fear by the follower of Jehovah's witnesses.  The consequence of expelling from the JW community can cost separation from husband, wife, parents, son or daughter and all JW congregation. The love from community of Christians will be helpful for ex-Jehovah’s Witnessess to growin a healthy understanding of the bible. The love from true brothers and sisters in Christ will help them to walk out of error and darkness into the light of Christianity.

  1. Conclusion
We can build our apologetic approach to Jehovah's witness through philosophical approach, which based on some basic doctrines in Christianity such as: The doctrine of Trinity, The Deity of Jesus, Worship to Jesus, Holy Spirit and Salvation in Christianity, and other basic doctrines needed. For cultural approach we can start talk about the topic about blood transfusion, salute to national flag, etc. 
The last but the most important approach is the pastoral approach which deal with them as a human being and aware of their human need, their feelings, their struggles, emotions, anger, confusion, etc. Our daily life activities with them can also lead us to conversation about what is life, what is the purpose of life, God's plan for human life, etc. I think to build a healthy friendship will be helpful to build an open conversation with them, and to treat them not like our enemy. We also need to be open to hear about their teachings while attempt to discuss about the truth of the bible and enter some basic doctrines to present the truth of Jesus Christ.

[2]    Walter Martin, Jehovah's Witnesses, (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship Inc., 1957), p.10
[3]    Walter Martin, p. 6
[4]    Anthony A. Hoekema, Jehovah's Witnesses, (Grand Rapids: WB Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1963), p.9
[5]    Walter Martin, Jehovah's Witnesses, (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship Inc., 1957), p.11
[6]    Walter Martin, p. 11
[7]    Anthony A. Hoekema, p. 9
[8]    Anthony A. Hoekema, p. 26
[9]    Anthony A. Hoekema, p. 26
[10]  William J. Schnell, Into the Light of Christianity, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974), p.91
[11]  Hoekema, p.52
[13]  For Jehovah's Witness, the devil is a spirit son of God who rebelled against the Theocratic arrangement. The ultimate end of Satan is complete annihilation (Walter Martin, p. 31)
[16]  Hoekema, p.75
[17]  William J. Schnell, p. 12
[18]  William J. Schnell, p. 12
[20]           [20]draw Close to Jehova” (Brooklyn: WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, 2002), p. 9
[21]  Walter Martin, p. 18
[22]  Hoekema, p.45
[26]  Walter Martin, p. 29
[27]  Walter Martin, p. 29
[28]  Walter Martin, p. 30
[29]  Arthur W. Wainwright, The Trinity in the New Testament, (London: SPCK, 1962), p.192
[30]  Arthur W. Wainwright, p. 90-91

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