A student, who is a Christian, asked why I referred to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a cult. “After all,” he said, “they believe in Jesus.” Yes, they believe in Jesus, but is it the Jesus of the scriptures who is the Son of God, the Savior who died for the sins of the world?
A cult is a group of people that embrace a counterfeit Christian religion. All cults have a leader who claims to be uniquely called by God. Not all cults follow all of the characteristics of a cult, but following any one of them should be a warning to us to stay away. The group requires the study of books other than the Bible. Their “revealed truths” supersede or contradict the Bible. They claim to be the only true church and do not hold back from criticizing all Christian churches. Cults use excessive control by the leaders of the group. They often claim new revelations from God and change their beliefs with new revelations. Their doctrine is nothing short of a total lie.
Charles Taze Russel was the leader of the Jehovah’s Witness group that formed in 1870. The group has now grown to about 8.7 million actively involved people. The markings for this movement are cultish.
How does their doctrinal position line up with the central tenets of the Christian faith?
1. The deity of Christ
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is Michael, the archangel, the highest created being. This belief contradicts many Scriptures which declare Jesus to be God.
The JW’s bible, called The New World Translation, translates John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was a god.”
John 1:1 from the Christian Bible reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
2.  Salvation.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe salvation comes through faith, good works, and obedience. Once again, their belief in works for salvation contradicts the heart of the Christian scriptures, which declares that salvation comes by faith in Christ’s death and resurrection.
“For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8,9)
“he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” (Titus 3:5)
3. The Trinity
The trinity in Christian doctrine believes there is one eternal being of God, indivisible and infinite. This one being of God is shared by three co-equal, co-eternal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the trinity.
“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;” (Matthew 3:16,17)
4. Holy Spirit
Jehovah’s Witnesses reject God the Holy Spirit as a part of the trinity and yield to the false belief that the Holy Spirit is an inanimate power of God.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
5. Christ’s substitutionary atonement
The JWs reject Christ’s substitutionary atonement that Jesus Christ died as a substitute for all sinners. The Scriptures teach that all men are sinners (Romans 3:9-18, 23). The penalty for our sinfulness is death. Romans 6:23 reads, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
It is essential to know that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not bad people. They are all misled as to the nature of the One True God. They do not understand that God is a relational God who loves all He created. We are all called by God to go into the world and disciple those who are lost. Are you prepared to share and engage with those who desperately need to know the truth of Jesus?
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15),
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:1-5).