In a recent article under the heading “Critique,” Miss. A. Lubbers pointed out to both BEACON LIGHTS readers and writers that the original intent of this rubric was to bring current doctrinal issues to light. Keeping this in mind, I thought it might prove interesting to make an evaluative study of some of the cults of today’s world.
One of the foremost cults of our age is that of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The modern movement toward this cult began in 1884, when a man by the name of Charles Taze Russell incorporated the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society from members of an organization called the International Bible Students Organization, which he had created in 1872. Russell and his band of followers held several beliefs which came to be known collectively as Russellism.
Russellism after this time developed into the set of beliefs which are attributed to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who took on this name after the death of Charles Russell. The name Russellism was indeed an appropriate name for these strange beliefs, since they were strictly the offspring of Russell’s conniving mind. In order to study the Jehovah’s Witnesses, therefore, we must first delve into the beliefs of Charles Taze Russell.
One of the first and most radical propositions made by Russell concerns the miraculous origin and existence of Christ. Russell believed that Jesus Christ was a creation of God, and was actually created a spirit being as all the angels had been created. He went further to explain that Christ, before he had assumed the human nature, had in reality been the archangel, Michael. Try to imagine this – God’s only Son, very God, and very man, being only an Archangel of the Almighty God! It takes only the powerful verse of John 1:1 to show the outright blasphemy of this teaching. Note – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In John 8:58, we also ready Christ’s words, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” How strange it is that those who have taken upon themselves the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” – the I AM’s Witnesses – can so easily reject Him Who is just as really the I AM. To believe as the Jehovah’s Witnesses is to deny Christ His Eternity, Co-existence, and His Deity.
Russellism next declares that when Christ became a man in the flesh, He left His Spirit behind, thereby walking on the earth as nothing more than a perfect human being. Russell himself says, “He was not exalted to the divine nature until the human nature was sacrificed-dead.” Thus, while on the earth, Christ has no trace of the divine nature in Him, and His Incarnation becomes of little significance. Such mangling of the many beautiful Scriptural passages that testify to Christ’s two natures is almost unbelievable. Russellism, I believe, is self-contradictory. It allows Christ a perfect human nature, but then calls Him a liar when he speaks the words recorded in John 14:9, “He that hath seen me hath seen my Father.” Thus it becomes possible for a perfect man to lie?
Because Russellism proposes that Christ while on earth had only a perfect human nature, it follows that the atonement of Christ for our sins was merely the work of a man. This the Russellites do not deny. In fact, Charles Russell himself said, “as a human being, he gave himself for a ransom for men.” Therefore, the man who died on the Cross for our sins was nothing more than this – a man. Upon reading the Heidelberg Catechism concerning the problem of the complete satisfaction for sin, we find the following question and answer: “Can there be found anywhere one, who is a mere creature, able to satisfy for us? None; for first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man hath committed; and, further no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin so as to deliver others from it.” Scripture also testifies on behalf of this in Psalm 49:7, where we read: “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for Him.” But the Russellites are not content to stop here, with Christ alone making satisfaction for our sins. No, this sinful cult declares that we ourselves, by our eventual death, has a part in this ransom, and that each of us is a living sacrifice. One who sincerely has known the misery of being a sinner can only stand in awe at this blasphemy and degradation of the Atonement. My sinful, hateful life a sacrifice toward my own redemption? Thanks be to God I need not take a part in even the smallest part of it!
Finally, in studying the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their beliefs concerning Christ, we must look at one more absurd proposition of Russellism. The Russellities declare, finally, that Christ now exists as a spirit being in Heaven. He exists in this manner without even so much as a trace of His human nature. Russellism denies the Resurrection, but rather insists that Christ’s body was removed from the grave by supernatural means unknown to us. This, they say, was done in order that the presence of the body would not hinder the faith of His disciples. There are again numerous passages of Scripture which support the fact that Christ is now in Heaven in both natures. One of these is I Timothy 2:5, where Paul declares that “there is one Mediator between God and man, the MAN Jesus Christ.” This evil belief plainly denies not only Christ’s Resurrection and bodily ascension, but also distorts or denies His Intercession. How the Jehovah’s Witnesses find comfort in having a Christ like this at all, is incomprehensible.
Having read about the Jehovah’s Witnesses, we can surely see how important it is to know just what is wrong with this cult, which although it may appear harmless, is an abominibly sinful cult. In the second part of this article, we will look as some of their beliefs concerning man himself.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 31 No. 8 December 1971