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Why do Jehovah's Witnesses believe there is only one true religion?

Does the Bible say there is only one true religion?

No, but Jehovah's Witnesses have been taught that there is only one true religion, citing Ephesians 4:5, 6 (NWT) "one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all [persons], who is over all and through all and in all."

However, looking at the definition of "faith" in the Bible at Hebrews 11:1 it tells us that "faith" is not an organized religion.  Many scriptures throughout the bible show examples of faith.  Additional scriptures say that faith is a fruit of God's spirit.  Never is faith defined in the Bible as a religion.

Are their seven characteristics of which religion is right unique to them?

According to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society's book Reasoning from the Scriptures, p328-330, there are seven questions for a person to identify which religion is right.  But, are these characteristics unique to one religion?  And, where in the Bible does it state there is only one true religion?

As asked in the Reasoning from the Scriptures book:

How can a person know which religion is right?

  1. On what are its teachings based?

    My thoughts: Since gaining spiritual freedom, I have begun attending a non-denominational conservative bible church.  I could not believe how different it was from a standpoint of just reading the Bible.  No interpretations are made and scripture backs up scripture.  The teachings are more Bible based than what I remember from being a practicing Jehovah's Witness.  To give you an example, our Pastor reads only several verses each week and then turns to the Bible to help us understand the verses and give us practical application of these verses. Additionally, he will reference the original Hebrew or Greek language to help us understand the meaning of the scriptures.  The verses are disected for understanding, and an entire hour is devoted to only a few verses.  In the Jehovah's Witness meetings, you will rush through the scriptures every week with your assigned Bible reading and two short talks (less than 20 minutes in total) that cover several chapters instead of several verses.  It was my experience that scriptures were rarely read in their entire context, rather in the shortest form possible to quickly make a point and move on to another point.  So, my answer to this characteristic is that other churches do a much better job at teaching directly from the Bible and not adding in other modern-day, man-made publications.
  2. Consider whether it is making known the name of God. 

    My thoughts: Growing up, I was told no other religion recognizes God's name, and in fact the name of God had been taken out of the Bible.  However, now that I have experienced going to other churches, I was pleasantly surprised by their recognition of God's name, Jehovah, Yahweh, etc.  What I found even more interesting is that the NWT Bible has added the name Jehovah 237 times in the New Testament.  Even their latest worldly scholar, Jason BeDuhn, who endorses their Bible as being one of the most accurate (compared to only seven other translations), says that they have inaccurately added the name Jehovah in the New Testament.  But, this will be news to Jehovah's Witnesses, as the literature they have received on Jason BeDuhn's endorsement does not contain this information. (See Watchtower, December 1, 2004, p30)
  3. Is true faith in Jesus Christ being demonstrated?  

    My thoughts: My question to this is, are imperfect humans to be the judge of saying a particular religion is not?  The people in my church and those I know in other non-denominational and denomational churches seem to exercise true faith in Jesus Christ and demonstrate it by their actions.  So, this is not a characteristic exclusive to Jehovah's Witnesses.  What I have learned is that it seems the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has gone through great lengths in changing scripture to take away the Deity of Christ.
  4. Is it largely ritualistic, a formality, or is it a way of life? 

    My thoughts: Once again I will reference growing up.  I was taught that other religions were just a formality where people only went to church once a week, if that.  When the members were not at church, their lives did not meet Bible standards.  I was under this impression most of my life, until I started to learn all the things other churches do.  Most churches have ministries, Bible study groups, youth programs, family programs, singles programs, the list goes on.  There are plenty of churches that teach good morals and a Christian lifestyle.  To say that only one religion truly lives up to this, is one of those judgments that can make one feel superior, prideful and unloving toward their fellow believers in Christ. Again, this characteristic of having a Christian way of life and not just attending church as a formality is not exclusive to Jehovah's Witnesses.
  5. Do its members truly love one another

    My thoughts: Scriptures in the Bible (1 John 3:11-20, John 13:35, 1 John 4:7) tells us we are to love our fellow brothers in Christ.  This does not mean only love one another in one religion.  There are many Christian religions, all believing in and having faith that Jesus Christ is our savior.  Our fellow brothers and sisters go far beyond the walls or confines of our church or religion. 

    As a practicing Jehovah's Witness, I experienced both love and unjust judgments from fellow members.  The kind of above and beyond love Jehovah's Witnesses claim to have, I really can say happened only once when I nearly died in a car accident.  Members of my congregation came to my side to assist me and for that I am forever grateful.  My experience with my new church is they do the same and more for members in need. However, the judging happened far more than the experience of love.  From youth to the time I decided to leave the religion at the age of 36, many unloving and unjust judgments were made by fellow members. 

    • Reprimands were made because my participation levels did not meet that of an "average" publisher
    • Someone thought they saw something inappropriate (kissing my fiancé)
    • Social contact being cut off when I went through a divorce
    • Gossip behind my back that I was bad association
    • Being told I was materialistic from my own mother
    • Not being invited to certain social gatherings of the congregation

      The list could go on.  I might add all this happening when I was an active member.  I consider this very unloving behavior.  And, to only exhibit love to those members in one religion is not what the Bible says.  The kind of love Jesus commanded us to have exists with many people of many religions and churches. I am sure every church has it fair share of members who exhibit unloving judgments too, but most Christian churches will teach its members to love all fellow believers in Christ - not just those in the confines of their church or religion.
  6. Is it truly separate from the world? 

    My thoughts: Scriptures quoted here are John 15:19, Jas. 1:27 an 1 John 2:15-17.  So, what is the "world" defined as?  Is it as everyone outside of one religion?  Or, is it talking about those who are not believers on Christ and/or not living their life in accordance with Bible standards?  In my opinion Jehovah's Witnesses take this to an extreme and are selective in what they consider worldly.  For example, Jehovah's Witnesses are known for not celebrating holidays to stay separate from the world, claiming many of these holidays have pagan origins.  However, the ritual of having wedding rings (also some believe has pagan origins) is OK.  Many Jehovah's Witnesses believe that separating themselves from the world means to only have friends that are fellow Jehovah's Witnesses.  However, some Jehovah's Witnesses allow their children to have "worldly" friends.  There are many examples on how this concept of staying separate from the world is selective.  But, the main point here is that the "world", or in their terms "bad association", is not fellow believers in Christ.  The "world" is not everyone who is not a Jehovah's Witness.  To claim this is extremely judgmental, because in effect they are saying everyone else is bad and how loving is that?
  7. Are its members active witnesses concerning God's Kingdom? 

    My thoughts: Many religions and churches have a variety of outreach that includes more than just door-to-door witnessing.  In fact, many other relgions or churches focus on reaching those who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior, versus counting their time (works) toward converting those who are already believers in Christ.  In my opinion actively witnessing is the kind of witnessing where different methods are used to reach unbelievers in all parts of the world, not trying to convert already believers and by one primary method of witnessing that some sources say is rather ineffective.


Eight signs of a cult

Are these the eight things that identify the only "one true religion"?
I believe the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has mastered this list. 

  1. Environmental Control.  Only read books, magazines and websites that are controlled by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.  Only associate with other Jehovah's Witnesses, everyone else is "worldly" and "bad association".

  2. Mystical Manipulation.  The "Anointed ones" who are part of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society are God's sole channel of communication with those of us on earth.  They are prophets, teaching doctrines and predictions that are divinely directed by God.

  3. Demand for purity.  One cannot falter.  You must obey all the rules and do all the works.  Even if your spiritual gift is not witnessing door-to-door, you must do it.  If you do not do enough works, you may not receive salvation.

  4. Cult of confession.  Confess your sins to the elders to receive forgiveness.  "It is certainly not easy to confess to others deeds that one feels ashamed of and to seek forgiveness. It takes inner strength." Watchtower 2001 Jun 1 p.31

  5. Sacred Science.  If you do not absolutely conform to everything, you will not be saved.  If you can disprove a teaching or doctrine you will be disfellowshipped, disowned and/or shunned.

  6. Loaded language.  Terminology used by the organization is exclusive to the religion and not found in the Bible, and elevates the religion with a holier than thou/we're the only right ones capacity. "Disfellowship(ped)", "worldly" or "worldly people", "paradise earth", The Society", "Jehovah's Organization", "the truth", "the new system".

  7. Exclusivity.  Salvation is only through the religion.  "Only Jehovah's Witnesses, those of the anointed remnant and the "great crowd," as a united organization under the protection of the Supreme Organizer, have any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end of this doomed system dominated by Satan the Devil." Watchtower 1989 Sep 1 p.19  NOTE: there is no scriptural proof of this.  Many scriptures talk about what is required for salvation and this statement and many others made by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society say the same.

  8. Mind control with fear and intimidation to stay in the organization.  If you leave, you will be shunned/disowned from your friends and family members.  Hate the bad person.

    The Watchtower Magazine Oct. 1, 1952, p599 ©1952 Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, "We must hate [the disfellowshipped person] in the truest sense, which is to regard with extreme active aversion, to consider [them] as loathsome, odious, filthy, to detest."

    The Watchtower Magazine, July 15, 1961, p420 ©1961 Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, "In order to hate what is bad, a Christian must hate the person."

Much of this research has been done be renowned authorities such as Robert J Lifton and Dr. Margaret Singer.  More can be found here.

The Opposite of Love is Fear

Having been raised in a fear-based culture, I now know that being coerced to practice a religion out of fear, is not loving.  1 John 4:18 (NWT), "There is no fear in love, but perfect love throws fear outside, because fear exercises a restraint.  Indeed, he that is under fear has not been made perfect in love."