The short answer to the question in the heading is that at the end of the first century CE there were some Christian congregations that had some false doctrines and false procedures. Nevertheless, these congregations were a part of the only true religion. In a similar way, in the 21st century, the members of the Governing Body have introduced some false doctrines and false procedures. Nevertheless, Jehovah’s Witnesses is the only true religion.
From the year 1961, when I became a Witness, and for more than two decades, the doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses were directly based on the Bible, and there were almost no procedures and doctrines that were contrary to the Bible. But at the end of the 1980s, a few things that were not based on the Bible were introduced. However, it was first in the 21st century that some unbiblical doctrines and procedures were introduced that led to a dictatorial organization.
Unchristian doctrines and actions in the 1st century CE
Paul, Peter, Judas, and John show in their writings that from the middle of the 1st century CE, some persons exercised a corrupting influence on some congregations. Around the year 95 CE, the three first chapters in Revelation show that serious wrongdoing occurred in five of the seven congregations in Asia. And the elders in these congregations had not done anything with this wrongdoing.
Unchristian doctrines and actions in the true religion in the time of the end.
In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a power struggle inside the Governing Body between Ted Jaracz, who was a hardliner, and Lloyd Barry, who was a chambion for Christian freedom. When Barry died in 1999, Jaracz became the leader of the Governing Body, and his hardline influence was seen in several areas. A crusade against higher education started in 2006 and is still continuing, and until the year 2010 when Jaracz died, the number of disfellowshipping offenses doubled. Some false doctrines were also introduced.
The only true religion is still existing in the time of the end
Both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Greek Scriptures show that God should have a people in the time of the end. The only group that fills the criteria for being the true religion is Jehovah’s Witnesses. But unfortunately, the true religion in the 21st century has been attacked from the inside by the members of the Governing Body. They have given themselves more and more power until they acquired unlimited dictatorial power. Everything they say and do must be accepted, and if someone disagree, that person may be disfellowshipped. The characteristics of a sect is that it has one of several leaders with dictatorial power, and they demand absolute obedience. The actions of the members of the Governing Body show that they have been leading Jehovah’s Witnesses in a sectarian direction.
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES HAVE ONE CORRECT AND ONE WRONG VIEW ON THE PREACHING OF THE GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM
The correct view: This view is that the purpose of the worldwide preaching is to find and collect people who will become servants of God. Judgment Day is the same as the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ, and before the Day starts, the great tribulation with catastrophes for the earth and its population will occur.
During Judgment Day, the resurrection of most of the between 20 and 27 billion that have lived on the earth will occur. The resurrection is a miracle from God. However, there must be a preparation of the earth for the resurrection. When persons are resurrected, they need a place to live, they need food, and they need to be taught about Jehovah God and Jesus Christ
This means that there must be servants of God on the earth before the resurrection will occur. They must be a part of the great crowd mentioned in Revelation 7:9-18. Today, there is only one denomination that is looking forward to and is preparing to survive the great tribulation, The members work hard to form their personalities in accordance with Bible principles, so God can use them in the work of preparing the earth for the resurrection. This denomination is Jehovah’s Witnesses.
This means that the purpose of the worldwide preaching work is to find sincere and god-fearing persons whom Jehova can use to prepare the earth for the resurrection.
The wrong view: This view is that the purpose of the worldwide preaching is to separate the inhabitants of the earth into two groups, the righteous from those who are not righteous. When the preaching is completed, the righteous ones will survive the great tribulation, and all those who are no part of the group of the righteous will be eternally annihilated.
The people who will survive the great tribulation must be those who have formed their personality in accordance with the principles of God, so he can use them to prepare the earth for those who will be resurrected. If a group of persons who do not know and live according to the principles of God would survive together with the great crowd, they would create problems on the new earth because they would act against the principles of God.
Jesus shows in Luke 17:26-30 that the situation immediately before, or in the great tribulation, can be compared to the great flood in the days of Noah. The prophecy of Ezekiel 38:18-23 describes great catastrophes in the nature, and the sword of one will be turned against his brother. Therefore, it seems that most people or all the people living at that time that are not a part of the great crowd will loose their lives before or in the great tribulation. But the view of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding the destiny of these people is wrong! Jesus bought all the descendants of Adam when he died, and everyone must get a chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice of Jesus.
I refer to two important articles: «The members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ.» and “Judgment Day which is the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ.” The articles show that when the great tribulation comes, there will be more than six billion people living that have not had a chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. These people cannot be eternally annihilated because that do not accord with the love and righteousness of Jehovah and the purpose of the ransom sacrifice.
The Watchtower of March 15, 1965, page 178, says that “the vast majority of mankind” will get a resurrection. That will include those who died in the great flood, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gmorrah, and the wicked and adulterous generation that lived in the days of Jesus. Only the few who have sinned against the holy spirit will not be resurrected.
|The right view is that the purpose of the worldwide preaching is to collect sincere persons who will survive the great tribulation and whom God can use to prepare the earth for the resurrection.
The wrong view is that the purpose of the preaching is to separate all humans into two groups, so that those who are not members of the great crown will be eternally annihilated.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT OF THE TRUE RELIGION?
I start this discussion with a quotation from the last section of my article, “Analysis of the evidence used to show that the Governing Body is “the faithful and discreet slave,” which may seem to be self-contradictory:
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe only in the Bible, and all its basic doctrines are based on the Bible. Because of the worldwide preaching of the Kingdom of God by more than 8 million preachers, I believe that the angels of God and his holy spirit direct this enormous preaching work. However, in the last part of the 20th century and in the 21st century, the development inside Jehovah’s Witnesses has proceeded in a direction against the angels of God and his holy spirit.
On the one hand, I say that Jehovah’s Witnesses only believe in the Bible, and their worldwide preaching is supported by angels. On the other hand, I say that in the last part of the 20th and in the 21st century, the development inside Jehovah’s Witnesses has proceeded in the wrong sectarian direction, against the angels of God and against his holy spirit. I have also shown in the article that the Governing Body has introduced many human commandments and that most of the new understandings of Bible subjects the Governing Body has presented over the last 33 years have been wrong. In view of all this, how can I at the same time still believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses is the only true religion?
A part of the answer is found in the three first chapters of Revelation, where we find the messages from Jesus Christ to the seven congregations in Asia. These messages are discussed in detail in the article “Introduction to Articles dealing with the Governing Body” in the category “The Governing Body.” I bring the following quotation from this article:
The seven congregations were a part of the only true religion. Nevertheless, bad things occurred in the congregations, and those taking the lead did not act against that which was bad. There were false teachings in the congregations; there were sects, idolatry, and sexual immorality.
When things that violated God’s laws could happen in the true Christian congregations at the end of the first century CE, things that violate God’s laws can also happen in the true Christian congregations today.
Some actions that occurred in five of the seven congregations were against the angels of God and the holy spirit. Nevertheless, these congregations were still a part of the only true religion at the end of the first century CE. Today, sects, idolatry, and sexual immorality are not tolerated among Jehovah’s Witnesses, as was the case in some of the congregations in Asia. But there are false teachings, and an autocratic organization where nine men function as a government with unlimited power. And Christian freedom is, to a great extent, restricted because, more and more, the Governing Body makes decisions on the part of the members, decisions that the conscience of each member should have made.
So, the question still remains: How can all the mentioned bad things exist inside the true religion? The short answer is that the 12 million ordinary Witnesses practice the only true religion, while the members of the Governing Body of the 21st century in some areas work against the true religion.
UNCHRISTIAN ACTIONS AND TEACHINGS INSIDE THE TRUE RELIGION IN THE FIRST CENTURY CE
The book of Acts tells about a great preaching work by Paul and many other Christians, and we read about different Christian congregations that were established. These congregations were a part of the only true religion, and the spirit of God was given to members of these congregations, as we read in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. The congregations had bodies of elders who worked hard to teach the congregation members the laws and principles of God and to help them to live in accordance with the will of God.
While there was a good spiritual climate in the Christian congregations, from the middle of the first century CE, the Christian Greek Scriptures show that there also were some problems. The first letter to the Corinthians was written around the year 55 CE, and at this time, there were some divisions in this congregation (1 Corinthians 1:10), and some elders had elevated themselves and were dubbed “superfine apostles” by Paul. (2 Corinthians 11:5, 13, 14)
Paul wrote that after his death, “aggressive wolves will enter among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness” (Acts 20:29). The second letter to the Thessalonians was written around 51 CE. Paul says in 2:3 that apostasy will come, and the man of lawlessness will be revealed. The second letter of Peter was written about 64 CE, and Peter says in 2:1-2 that there will be false teachers among the Christians.
The letter of Jude was written about 65 CE, and in verse 4, he says that certain men who are violating God’s laws “have slipped in among you.” The first letter of John was written around 98 CE, and in 2:18-22 he says that many antichrists, who denied the Father and the Son, have already arrived.
The corrupting influences that Paul, Peter, Jude, and John writes about occurred gradually from the middle of the first century and until the end of that century. Some of these bad influences were seen in one congregation, and others were seen in another congregation. The mentioned writers warn about these negative influences, and we have no reason to believe that these actions and teachings contrary to God’s truth were accepted by the elders in the Christian congregations.
However, by the time the book of Revelation was written around 96 CE, some bodies of elders had begun allowing these bad influences to infiltrate their congregations. For example, the first three chapters of the book of Revelation show that the bodies of elders in five of the seven congregations written to had accepted violations of God’s laws and false teachings without doing anything to get rid of these. But the point in the context of this discussion is that these congregations, despite the bad things taking place within them, were still part of the one true religion. Indeed, the purpose of the letters was to admonish the elders to rid the congregations of everything that was against God’s truth.
UNCHRISTIAN ACTIONS AND TEACHINGS INSIDE THE TRUE RELIGION IN THE TIME OF THE END
As I have shown in the discussion of the differences between inspiration and direction, C.T Russell and his friends started their search for Bible truth in the 1870s. When Russell died in 1916, most of the basic Christian doctrines were understood, and the only true religion was reestablished.
I have described some examples of God’s direction during the years when C.T. Russell, J.F Rutherford, and N.H. Knorr were the presidents of the Watchtower Society. In 1972, about one hundred years after Russell and his friends started their Bible studies, the elder arrangement was introduced in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was really a milestone!
What was the status of the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses when the elder arrangement was introduced? The true religion that existed in the first century CE was now fully reestablished. Chapter 1 of my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, is entitled “The Religion of the Bible.” This chapter describes the four basic criteria for being the true religion, 1) The belief in the full inspiration of the Bible, 2) Doctrines completely in harmony with the Bible, 3) A clear separation from the world, and 3) The preaching of the good news of the Kingdom worldwide.
In 1972, the only religion that filled these criteria was Jehovah’s Witnesses. In chapter 1, I describe in detail how the basic doctrines that are unique for Jehovah’s Witnesses have a clear basis in the Bible. There can be no doubt that Jehovah’s Witnesses is the only true religion and this true religion was practiced by all the 1,658,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, including the members of the Governing Body in 1972.
Today, 51 years have passed since the elder arrangement was introduced, and what is the status of the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses now? The four basic criteria are still fulfilled by Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all the unique doctrines that I have described are still valid. This means that Jehovah’s Witnesses still is the true religion. If we view this from an academic point of view, Jehovah’s Witnesses of today get an A. However, there is a big minus behind this A. Why is this?
The Governing Body was formed in 1971. While the Governing Body directed the organization worldwide, each group of elders had great freedom to make decisions inside their congregations. Already from 1976, some small changes were made, and the Governing Body took some power from the elders and transferred it to themselves. But it was first in the 21st century that the Governing Body started to function as an autocratic government for Jehovah’s Witnesses in the full sense of the words.
The article “The power struggle inside the Governing Body in the 1980s and 1990s” in the category “The Governing Body” describes the power struggle between Theodore Jaracz and William Lloyd Barry. Jaracz was a hardliner who wanted to make many laws and regulations, while Barry was a champion for Christian freedom. In the year 1999, Barry suddenly died, and for all intents and purposes, Jaracz now became the leader of the Governing Body. When new members were added to the Governing Body, Jaracz had the final say. And he chose hardliners like himself. Jaracz died in 2010.
The influence of Jaracz can be seen in several areas. During the ten years from 2000 to 2010, when he was the leader of the Governing Body, the number of disfellowshipping offenses doubled. The book for elders, “Shepherd The Flock Of God” (2019) lists 46 disfellowshipping offenses, and two offenses are found other places. Of these 48 disfellowshipping offenses, only 11 are based on the Bible, and the 37 are made up and invented by the Governing Body.
During one year, about 1% of the witnesses are disfellowshipped, and this is about 80.000 last year. If the Bible had been followed, I assess that 90% of these should not have been disfellowshipped. A detailed discussion of the wrong disfellowshipping procedures is found in chapters 5 and 6 in My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition.
Jaracz had a very negative view of higher education and of intellectual persons, and in 2006, a crusade against higher education started. A detailed discussion of this crusade is found in chapter 4 in the mentioned book, and it is entitled “The extreme view of higher education.” This crusade is still going on, and it shows that the present members of the Governing Body are hardliners, just like Jaracz. Because of this crusade, tens of thousands of young Witnesses have been pressured not to pursue higher education, and this has restricted their possibilities to find decent jobs to care for their families.
The most serious error of the members of the present Governing Body is their new view of the Bible—they have rejected its full inspiration, as I have discussed in the article, “An analysis of the evidence used to show that the Governing Body is the ‘faithful and discreet slave’.” A detailed discussion of this is found in chapter 7 of My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, and it is entitled “The Governing Body’s new view of the Bible.” This amounts to a major false teaching on the part of the Governing Body. I have also shown in the discussion above that the members of the Governing Body, without a good Scriptural basis, has changed the understanding of a great number of prophecies, and that they have rejected the Words of Jesus regarding who will get a resurrection.
THE TRUE RELIGION IS STILL EXISTING IN THE TIME OF THE END
In 2 Timothy 4:3, 4 (NIV), the apostle Paul shows that there is only one true religion.
3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
There is only one right thing, “the truth,” “the sound (or, ‘healthful’) doctrine.” This truth would not suit the desires of many people. Therefore, they would listen to teachers who said what they liked to hear. The result would be that they would believe in myths rather than the sound or healthful doctrines. That there is only one true church or congregation is also shown by Paul in 1 Timothy 3:15 (NIV):
If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
The word “church” is translated from the Greek word ekklēsia, which most often is translated by “congregation.” There is only one “congregation of the living God,” and it is “the pillar and foundation of the truth.” If we believe that the Bible is inspired by God, there is only one possible conclusion to draw: Of all the churches or congregations with different doctrines and different practices, only one can be the true congregation of the living God.
The same doctrine is found in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the book of Daniel, we find the expression, “the people of the holy ones of the Most High.” (Daniel 7:27, NJB) In the last chapter of Daniel, we read that his prophecies dealing with the time of the conclusion (end) should be sealed until this time. (Daniel 12:10–12) The angel who spoke with Daniel also showed that God would have a people. We read:
He raised his right hand and his left hand to heaven and swore by him who lives forever, ‘A time and two times, and half a time; and all these things will come true, once the crushing of holy people’s power is over.’ (12:7, NJB)
It is obvious that if the power of the holy people was to be crushed, the holy people must be a tight-knit group that could be distinguished from all other groups, and who could be so identified and targeted.
When we look at Jehovah’s Witnesses in the year 2023, we see that the members still fulfill the four criteria of the only true religion. They believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word, they have doctrines completely in accord with the Bible, they are separated from the world, and they preach the good news of the kingdom worldwide. No other group of religious people fulfills these criteria.
However, the true religion is under attack from the inside, because of the new philosophy and actions of the nine members of the Governing Body. However, most Witnesses do not understand this. Why not? Because what the Witnesses once considered to be the sole source of “the truth,” namely, God’s Word the Bible, (John 17:17) has been subtly commandeered by the members of the Governing Body. In the minds of most Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Governing Body is an alternative source of inspired truth in addition to the Bible itself. The transference of this authority from the Bible onto the members of the Governing Body is well underway and is reflected in an oft-repeated expression in the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For example, the book How to Remain in God’s Love p. 71, par 22 says:
Ask yourself: ‘Do I really understand why we take this stand? Am I convinced that what the Bible and the faithful and discreet slave say is right? [italics mine].
Someone will say that such statements were not meant to convey that the faithful and discreet slave has the authority to decide what is truth apart from the Bible. Nevertheless, the potential connotation that the Governing Body is an additional source of inspired truth is inherent in the wording of the above sentence and many others just like it. If that was not the case, the sentence could have been: “Am I convinced that what the Bible says is right?” The intentions of the Governing Body notwithstanding, the potential meaning is there, nonetheless, like a subliminal message to the mind. And this juxtaposition of the “faithful and discreet slave” on par with the Bible, as an alternative source of truth, continues to appear in the Witness literature with more and more frequency. And there can be no question that Jehovah’s Witnesses have fully absorbed that message—the truth is determined by the Bible and the faithful and discreet slave.
For example, all individual Witnesses believe that every word in the Bible is inspired by God. But they also believe that everything the members of the Governing Body say and write is the truth and nothing but the truth. Because this mental conditioning has occurred gradually, most Jehovah’s Witnesses have not noticed that the Governing Body has a new philosophical view of the Bible—huge portions of the Hebrew Scriptures now have no prophetic meaning whatsoever. Apparently, much of what Jehovah caused to be recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures is just filler material that the Governing Body is authorized to filter out and repackage into a few succinct simple lessons or moral principles, as if our Grand Instructor, Jehovah God, could not have done that himself if he so desired. Therefore, this new view of the Bible on the part of the members of the Governing Body amounts to a rejection of its full inspiration.
Moreover, most of the present members of Jehovah’s Witnesses have not been witnesses for many years, and they do not know what the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses was like some decades ago. I have been a witness since 1961, and because I have had different positions as supervisor, I know the organization from the inside. I see that the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses today is very different from what it was some decades ago. The human commandments of the present Governing Body have ruined the lives of tens of thousands of my brothers and sisters. This is something I cannot ignore or simply look the other way without speaking up regarding what is wrong. That is the basic reason why I have written the book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body and all the articles on my website.
In the second century CE, some elders wanted more power for themselves, and they elevated themselves to become bishops. And later, some elders became priests, and thereby, a religious clergy was formed. In the 21st century, the members of the Governing Body are on a parallel course with those second-century elders. They have elevated themselves to a position where they have all power over the doctrines, the assets, and the money of the organization. Everything they say and do must be accepted, and criticism of the leaders leads to disfellowshipping. The typical characteristic of a sect is that one or more leaders have all power and they require total obedience. Because this is the case with Jehovah’s witnesses today, the Governing Body has led the organization in a sectarian direction.
Despite their intentions to use such power for good, “power corrupts,” as the saying goes, “and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. This is why Jehovah never intended for such power to be wielded by human beings, not even those with good motives (Jeremiah 10:23). And the absolute power that now resides in the hands of the members of the Governing Body will inevitably have a corrupting effect over time. And as I have been pointing out in my book and in these articles, such abuses of power are already underway. For example, everything the Governing Body says and does must be accepted without question, and any criticism of the leaders will ultimately lead to disfellowshipping. Herein lies the most basic example of the corrupting influence of power that has already gained a foothold among the members of the Governing Body, namely, their view that ‘because we have power from Jehovah, we cannot be questioned by our fellow brothers and sisters’. And the fundamental reason for this stance is that the members of the Governing Body apparently do not really see themselves as “fellow slaves” or “fellow brothers,” but rather, as the government of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and so they act accordingly.
Not only did the elders in the second century who elevated themselves to bishops govern their congregations in a dictatorial way. But they also introduced procedures and doctrines in the congregations that contradicted God’s will, as it is expressed in the Christian Greek Scriptures. The situations in five of the seven congregations in Asia that are mentioned in the first three chapters of Revelation are examples of this.
In the 21st century, the members of the Governing Body have also introduced procedures and doctrines in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses that contradict God’s will, as it is expressed in the Christian Greek Scriptures—as I already have described in detail. And it is because of this that I say that the only true religion is under attack from the inside. However, the 12 million ordinary members practice the true religion to the full, and the A that they get from this has no minus attached.
Just as the five congregations in Asia were a part of the only true religion, even though procedures and doctrines contrary to God’s Word existed in these congregations, I will say that Jehovah’s Witnesses today is the only true religion, despite the fact that the present Governing Body has led the organization in a sectarian direction, and some procedures and doctrines contrary to God’s Word exist within it.
The conclusion of this discussion is: The ordinary Jehovah’s Witnesses practice the true religion to the full; the Governing body in many ways has undermined the true religion by making procedures and doctrines that are against the will of God. The Governing Body has subtly commandeered the very concept of what “the truth” is in the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have done this by gradually transferring the authority of the Scriptures, as the source of truth, to the minds and will of the members of the Governing Body. Because of this, Jehovah’s Witnesses have come to view the Governing Body as an alternative source of “truth” to the written word of God (John 17:17).
For 140 years, from the 1870s to 2023, the Bible Students and ordinary Jehovah’s Witnesses have practiced the only true religion to the full extent.
From 1971, when the Governing Body was formed, and for more than two decades the members of the Governing Body practiced the only true religion as well.
. In their words and writings they stress that they are “fellow servants.” But if we study their writings and actions, we clearly see that this is not true. See my article, “The nature of the power of the Governing Body is hidden in smokescreens,” in the category, “The Governing body.”