ARE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES A SECT OR CULT?
Some define sect to mean a group that has broken away from an established religion. Others apply the term to a group that follows a particular human leader or teacher. The term is usually used in a derogatory way. Jehovah's Witnesses are not an offshoot of some church but include persons from all walks of life and from many religious backgrounds. They do not look to any human, but rather to Jesus Christ, as their leader.
A cult is a religion that is said to be unorthodox or that emphasizes devotion according to prescribed ritual. Many cults follow a living human leader, and often their adherents live in groups apart from the rest of society. The standard for what is orthodox, however, should be God's Word, and Jehovah's Witnesses strictly adhere to the Bible. Their worship is a way of life, not a ritual devotion. They neither follow a human nor isolate themselves from the rest of society. They live and work in the midst of other people.
DO JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES BELEIVE THAT THEIR RELIGION IS THE ONLY RIGHT ONE?
The Bible does not agree with the modern view that there are many acceptable ways to worship God. Ephesians 4:5 says there is one Lord, one faith. Jesus stated: Narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it. . . . Not everyone saying to me, Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.Matt. 7:13, 14, 21; see also 1 Corinthians 1:10.
Repeatedly the Scriptures refer to the body of true Christian teachings as the truth, and Christianity is spoken of as the way of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:15; 2 John 1; 2 Pet. 2:2) Because Jehovah's Witnesses base all of their beliefs, their standards for conduct, and organizational procedures on the Bible, their faith in the Bible itself as God's Word gives them the conviction that what they have is indeed the truth. So their position is not egotistical but demonstrates their confidence that the Bible is the right standard against which to measure one's religion. They are not self-centered but are eager to share their beliefs with others.
DO NOT OTHER RELIGIONS ALSO FOLLOW THE BIBLE?
Many use it to some extent. But do they really teach and practice what it contains? Consider: (1) From most of their Bible translations they have removed the name of the true God thousands of times. (2) The Trinity doctrine, their concept of God himself, is borrowed from pagan sources and was developed in its present form centuries after Bible writing was completed. (3) Their belief in immortality of the human soul as the basis for continued life is not taken from the Bible; it has roots in ancient Babylon. (4) The theme of Jesus' preaching was the Kingdom of God, and he sent his disciples out to talk personally to others about it; but the churches today seldom mention that Kingdom and their members are not doing the work of preaching this good news of the kingdom. (Matt. 24:14) (5) Jesus said that his true followers could be readily identified by their self-sacrificing love for one another. Is that true of the religions of Christendom when the nations go to war? (6) The Bible says that Christ's disciples would be no part of the world, and it warns that whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God; but the churches of Christendom and their members are deeply involved in the political affairs of the nations. (Jas. 4:4) In view of such a record, can it honestly be said that they really adhere to the Bible?
HOW DO JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES ARRIVE AT THEIR EXPLANATION OF THE BIBLE?
A key factor is that the Witnesses really believe that the Bible is God's Word and that what it contains is there for our instruction. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11) So they do not resort to philosophical arguments to evade its clear statements of truth or to justify the way of life of people who have abandoned its moral standards.
In pointing out the meaning of symbolic language in the Bible, they let the Bible provide its own explanation, instead of giving their theories as to its significance. (1 Cor. 2:13) Indications as to the meaning of symbolic terms are usually found in other parts of the Bible. (As an example, see Revelation 21:1; then, regarding the meaning of sea, read Isaiah 57:20. To identify the Lamb referred to in Revelation 14:1, see John 1:29 and 1 Peter 1:19.)
As for fulfillment of prophecy, they apply what Jesus said about being alert to events that correspond to what was foretold. (Luke 21:29-31; compare 2 Peter 1:16-19.) Conscientiously they point out those events and draw attention to what the Bible indicates they mean.
Jesus said that he would have on earth a faithful and discreet slave (his anointed followers viewed as a group), through which agency he would provide spiritual food to those making up the household of faith. (Matt. 24:45-47) Jehovah's Witnesses recognize that arrangement. As was true of first-century Christians, they look to the governing body of that slave class to resolve difficult questionsnot on the basis of human wisdom, but by drawing on their knowledge of God's Word and his dealings with his servants, and with the help of God's spirit, for which they earnestly pray.Acts 15:1-29; 16:4, 5.
WHY DO JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES PREACH FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE?
Jesus foretold for our day this work: This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come. He also instructed his followers: Go . . . and make disciples of people of all the nations.Matt. 24:14; 28:19.
When Jesus sent out his early disciples, he directed them to go to the homes of the people. (Matt. 10:7, 11-13) The apostle Paul said regarding his ministry: I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house.Acts 20:20, 21; see also Acts 5:42.
The message that the Witnesses proclaim involves the lives of people; they want to be careful to miss no one. (Zeph. 2:2, 3) Their calls are motivated by lovefirst for God, also for their neighbor.
A conference of religious leaders in Spain noted this: Perhaps [the churches] are excessively neglectful about that which precisely constitutes the greatest preoccupation of the Witnessesthe home visit, which comes within the apostolic methodology of the primitive church. While the churches, on not a few occasions, limit themselves to constructing their temples, ringing their bells to attract the people and to preaching inside their places of worship, [the Witnesses] follow the apostolic tactic of going from house to house and of taking advantage of every occasion to witness.El Catolicismo, Bogot, Colombia, September 14, 1975, p. 14.
WHY ARE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES PERSECUTED AND SPOKEN AGAINST?
Jesus said: If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you. (John 15:18, 19; see also 1 Peter 4:3, 4.) The Bible shows that the whole world lies under Satan's control; he is the principal instigator of the persecution.1 John 5:19; Rev. 12:17.
Jesus also told his disciples: You will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name. (Mark 13:13) The word name here means what Jesus officially is, the Messianic King. Persecution comes because Jehovah's Witnesses put his commands ahead of those of any earthly ruler.