Veracity of JWs church

I was wondering about the Jehovah’s Witnesses claims. It’s complicated for me to understand their reasons to believe they are the true Church.

And I made the following and easy reasoning:

Imagine that me and a group of friends create a new church with:

  • exactly the same name (or very similar) to JWs.
  • exactly the same structure and organization to JWs.
  • exactly the same teachings and practices to JWs.

Then, how could they argue “my church” is false and their church is true?

Since they don’t believe in Apostolic Succession, there’s nothing reasonable they can claim to say they are from God and not “my imagined church”, because both of them would be completely identical.

If their church is true, then “my cloned church” would be too, so there would be two true churches. And this is a contradiction.

Please, do you think this argument is useful or valid? Could it be improved?

Thank you!

Something of the sort has already happened in real life.

There was once a religion almost identical with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was known as the Worldwide Church of God, and it had practically identical doctrinal earmarks with the Jehovah’s Witnesses–though most of the Witnesses were unaware of it at the time.

Developed under the unorthodox teachings of Herbert Armstrong, the WCG believed almost everything taught by the Witnesses, claiming it was the one true religion. They even taught that the world would end in 1975, just as the Witnesses once did!

Unfortunately having the same doctrine is not the same as being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, not from their viewpoint anyway. Over the years (especially since the year 2000) many of their fundamental teachings have been dismissed or redesigned to such an extent that the original religion practiced by its founding members no longer exists. Witnesses are thus not concerned about what they believe as much as they are concerned that* they *are the one’s believing what they do.

For them it’s all about belonging to their group that listens to and hangs on every word preached by their Governing Body. Unless these truths are coming from the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, they might as well be falsehoods.

The Witnesses believe that God chose them in 1919 after the return of Jesus (which according to them occurred invisible to human eyes in October of 1914). Only the organization that grew from then is the true one and only they are being enlightened.

Besides you could never match their teachings exactly. Their theology is constantly in flux. Over the past 15 to 20 years they have gone to teaching that the world will end before the year 2000 to claiming “we will not set dates any longer for the end of the world” to the present “the world will end any day now, just watch!” Your teachings would have to change with the Governing Body’s teachings as they revise things at the very same time they revise things WITHOUT the ability to know when they make the changes and what they are for the Witnesses to accept them as “identical.” In order for you to do that would entail you having abilities far beyond normal human powers–or at least be able to bug the secret meeting of the Governing Body.

On a lighter note, the Worldwide Church of God recognized it was a cult after the death of Armstrong and made drastic changes from its leadership down. While many left, a core remained after the WCG adopted mainstream Christianity that is concurrent with those Protestant groups in ecumenical fellowship with the Catholic Church (even though I am unaware of any formal ecumenical connections between our Church and their group at this time).

Personally I think the probability of that happening to be near impossible. Most of the fringe denominations (though I prefer the word cult) require a development within a surrounding framework. ie The development of such an entity is entirely dependent on those surrounding conditions that are required in order to produce its fabrication. ie JW was not borne in a vacuum. It would not have sprung up in 1900 Australia for instance. The conditions were not right.

This is one thing that bugs me about the adherents of such belief systems, because they see themselves as the True Church, but are unaware that their true church could not occur outside the context of their own history and their own origin.

Thank you for your answer DelsonJacobs.

It’s very interesting to know about the Worldwide Church of God. Wow, there are so many denominations and churches! Indeed it’s like a supermarket in which you can buy whatever you want. And it breaks my heart, since sin and division make that not all those who believe in Christ can be in His Beloved Church.

What happened in 1914 to the Witnesses? What do they say about how God chose them?

Uhm, for what you have told me I understand they believe in a kind of continuity. If you think of that, every group has to count with a kind of continuity if it wants to be identified and connected to the past. Sadly they are connected to a man as their beginning and not with Jesus.

But I would like to find a way in which they could see this.

In theory, someone could clone their church and claim they have been chosen the same way JWs claim. If these two churches were the only two on earth there would be no way to choose one or the other. That’s the kind of reasoning I wanted to. So only that church who is connected to Jesus is the true church, since Jesus started one church. But I suppose this is so simple and that is difficult for them to accept. What a pity!

Note: edited to correct grammar errors.

There are many groups which claim to be the True Church. Since they are relatively new they have to say that the Primitive Church fell away, disappeared, was destroyed, etc. That’s the only way to justify their man-made groups.

Some of them say God came again and chose a new prophet or a new apostle to start again his church. Some of them claim they have received a special revelation or that they have got the true interpretation. These claims are just the same and unique pretext: they wanted to start a church 1800 years after the Ministry of Our Lord Jesus and they needed to justify it.

Thank you for your explanation about the contexts in which these groups appeared. I agree with you.

I once tried to get a JW relative of mine to see the importance of apostolic succession and the early church fathers to no avail of course. When she was seemly stumped to name any of the JW church fathers I began throwing out names. she stopped me at “Justin Martyr” and said “yes - he is one”. But when I tried to discuss Justin Martyr’s writings and beliefs the conversation ended. :frowning:

In another conversation with a different JW discussing the same thing, I asked him to give names of some earlier JWs prior to Russell and I was given only two - Joseph Priestly and Henry Grew both from the 19 century. :rolleyes:

In all of my conversations with them they will recognize the importance of the succession back to Russell or Grew, but prior to that it is irrelevant. :shrug:

Logic is not one of their strong suits!


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