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In these "latter days," there are few people who haven’t been visited at least once by Mormon missionaries. At some point in your doorstep dialogue, these earnest young men will ask you to accept a copy of the Book of Mormon, read it, and pray about it, asking the Lord to "send the Holy Ghost to witness that it is true." Then, very solemnly, they’ll "testify" to you that they know theBook of Mormon is true, that it’s God’s inspired word, and that it contains the "fullness of the everlasting gospel."
The first step toward being able to go to a Mormon temple is an interview with the "ward bishop" (roughly equivalent to a parish priest). During this interview a Mormon is questioned by the bishop to see if he has been faithful in his commitment to the teachings and ordinances of the Mormon church.
In your discussions with Mormons, they will most often wish to direct the topics presented into those areas where they feel most informed and comfortable. Whether they are the young missionaries at your door or friends or colleagues, they have all been taught several lines of approach and have been drilled in making their points.
George Orwell, in his novel 1984, did Catholic apologists a great favor by coining the term "doublethink," which he defined as "the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them." It’s the most succinct way of describing certain religious beliefs. For an illustration of doublethink one need look no further than the Mormon church’s doctrines about God.
The sect known as Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) began with Charles Taze Russell in the 1870’s. Russell was raised a Presbyterian, then joined the Congregational church, and was finally influenced by Adventist teachings. By his own admission, he had a hard time accepting the existence of hell. He sought out the Bible, and as his "studies" continued, he systematically began to reject the major doctrines of historic Christianity. He ultimately established his own belief system, and in 1879 he started publishing a magazine to promote his beliefs.
There may be no religious organization that engages in more publishing, proportionately to its membership, than the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (Watch Tower Society or WTS for short)—the publishing arm of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Each month Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) distribute millions of books, magazines, and pamphlets, in dozens of languages. Many of these are intended for non-Witnesses to try to convert them, but others are intended for Witnesses themselves.
Some core beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) were examined in our tract entitled Stumpers for Jehovah’s Witnesses. In this "sequel" tract, we will examine some additional beliefs and teachings of the Watchtower Society (WTS), the parent organization of the JWs.
Fifty years ago the Jehovah's Witnesses numbered fewer than 100,000. Now there are several million of them around the world. They don’t have churches; they have "Kingdom Halls" instead. Their congregations are uniformly small, usually numbering less than two hundred. Most Witnesses used to be Catholics or Protestants. Let’s look a little at their history, because that will help us understand their unique doctrines.
"Where the bishop is, there is the community, even as where Christ is, there is the Catholic Church."
~ Ignatius of Antioch (Smyrn., viii, 2) circa A.D. 110, laid down this principle on true union with the Church, versus schism; all the more impressive because his casual use of the word "Catholic" demonstrates the widespread acceptance of the term at a very early date.