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Worship Jesus

The core to religion is God, and to change the God you worship is to change the very essence of the religion. Change the God you worship and you change the whole basis for the religion.

Of the countless alterations in Witness doctrine, the one regarding the Worship of Jesus is most important of all. The major issues concerning the history and doctrine of the Jehovah's Witnesses are prevalent within the Watchtower doctrine of Jesus, clearly highlighting the manner in which the leaders operate. These pandemic symptoms are threefold.

Key Point
Jehovah's Witnesses worshipped Jesus until 1954, after which they were told such worship was idolatrous. This made them a polytheistic religion for most of their history.

Changed Teaching on Jesus

Russell taught that we should worship Jesus and the initial Watchtower Charter's specified that establishment of the Watchtower Society was to promote the worship of Jehovah and Jesus. Yet since the 1950's, worshipping Jesus became regarded as wrongful idolatry.

Russell promoted the worship of Jesus and prayer to him because he is our God.

Rutherford continued this teaching.

Knorr continued to teach we should worship Jesus and the 1940's Watchtower articles still stated that Jesus was to be worshipped.

In 1945, Knorr amended the Watchtower's legal Charter. Included within the Charter was the statement that the purpose of the Watchtower Society is to promote the worship of Jehovah and Jesus.

The 1945 Yearbook includes the Charter in full. Part of the current charter states as follows:

Following is a snippet from the 1945 Charter where it states to worship Jesus.

watchtower charter 1945 worship quote

It was not until 1999 that worship of Jesus was finally removed to simply state "arrange for and hold assemblies for religious worship;"

watchtower charter 1999 worship jesus removed

Worship of Jesus Becomes Idolatry

In the 1950's, the Watchtower changed their doctrine on Jesus to coincide with the release of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.

Contrary to most other translations, this new Bible for Jehovah's Witnesses translated the word proskuneo as obeisance rather than worship whenever it referred to Jesus. This is despite the fact that with almost every other occurrence, the New World Translation translates proskuneo as worship. Proskuneo occurs 55 times. Of the 15 times it applies to Jesus, it is translated 15 times as obeisance. Of the remaining 37 times it is translated 34 times as worship regardless of whether it is referring to Jehovah, angels, humans, Satan, demons, the wild beast or idols. Why this unusual stance in connection with Jesus? This is because the teaching about Jesus was to change.

The first clear statement that Jesus must not be worshipped was in 1954. From that time forward there was a new belief in the position of Jesus.

Watchtower Misquotes

On occasion the Watchtower use misquotes to hide its history or prove doctrines. For example, look at the way in which the charter is quoted since the doctrine was changed.

Though a Witness is bluntly told not to worship Jesus, the Charter was not amended to reflect this new doctrine until 1999. Therefore, for 45 years Witnesses were counselled against worshipping Jesus even though to do so was stated as the express reason for the existence of the Watchtower Society. This is despite the fact that it is considered idolatry to worship and pray to Jesus and will result in a Witness being disfellowshipped. It is interesting to see how the Watchtower dealt with having in its charter that Jesus is to be worshipped. They either misquoted it or avoided it completely.

The Yearbook of 1969 p.50 leaves the words 'and Christ Jesus' out altogether, cheekily replacing them with dots.

The section of the charter shown above is quoted almost in full in the footnote of the 1971 Watchtower on page 760, altering one small but significant word (which it correctly places in brackets) to significantly hide and change the true meaning of the sentence.

The 1993 Proclaimers book, outlining a history of the Watchtower Society, failed to even admit what is in the Charter.

Current Questionable Doctrine

It is interesting to know why it was originally taught that Jesus is a God worthy of our worship and prayers.

Jesus is a God

Jesus was worshipped

The Bible repeatedly says that Jesus was worshipped. The New World Translation is virtually alone in translating the word proskuneo as obeisance. Yet look at the context of the following scripture to understand that the thought given is one of reverential worship.

Jesus is our creator

Jesus was prayed to

Stephen prayed to Jesus whilst being stoned to death. Unlike most translations, the New World Translation uses the word appeal instead of prayer. However, the footnote to New World Translation, 1950 edition, states (footnote b: "invocation; prayer"). The Emphatic Diaglott by Benjamin Wilson and published by the Watchtower Society also refers to "the prayer of Stephen" in its' footnote. Regardless of whether Stephen appealed or prayed to Jesus, it is clear what the writer meant. The reason the New World Translation is averse to using the word prayer is that it is an indication of worship. Can you imagine what would happen today if an elder stood on the platform and prayed to Jesus instead of Jehovah?

This leads to a very interesting problem. If Jehovah's Witnesses worshipped Jehovah and worshipped Jesus that means they were worshipping two Gods. Does that not then make them Polytheistic? Yet Deuteronomy 6:4 states 'Jehovah our God is one Jehovah". The first of the ten commandments stated at Exodus 20:2-3

By current Watchtower teaching until 1954 Russell and all Jehovah's Witnesses were idolaters, a sin Revelation 21:8 describes as worthy of the second death. If that is the case, they cannot be part of the 144,000 heavenly rulers.

Early Jewish Christians grappled with this concept. They were Monotheistic, yet they were to worship Jesus, pray to him and refer to him as God. Early Christians had a Father and a Son both referred to as their God, their creator and to be worshipped. The only way to resolve this quandary was to say that Jesus was Jehovah. That is why even the very earliest of the Christian writers such as Tertullian stated that the Father and the Son were coequal. Therefore, we find the real reason the Trinity developed. The understanding of the Trinity was necessary to reconcile a Monotheistic religion that now had two Gods. Re-examining the scriptures was required to reveal the Sacred Secret of God; the very nature of Jesus. The Trinity was borne out of necessity to maintain a religion that worshipped only one God. It is with this understanding that a Witness can start to consider that even the doctrine that is harder to accept than any other, the Trinity, may actually have a scriptural basis.

When significant Watchtower doctrine change, you have to question whether the Holy Spirit directs the Governing Body in doctrine. Once you recognise that Watchtower articles dishonestly hide information, each Watchtower is read with a touch of suspicion. You can hardly begin to comprehend how much of what you accept as fact you will now need to start to question.

Watchtower Charter Changes
1. Dec. 15, 1884 Handwritten Charter
2. Dec. 15, 1884 Typed Charter
3. Sept. 19, 1896 Articles of Amendment
4. Feb. 12, 1909 NY Charter
5. June 30, 1914 (IBSA) Charter
6. Feb. 15, 1945 Articles of Amendment
7. Oct. 7, 1955 Articles of Amendment
8. Dec. 2, 1987 Articles of Amendment
9. May 9, 1988 Articles of Amendment
10. Nov. 22, Articles of Amendment
11. Aug. 25, Articles of Amendment
12. Nov. 4, 1999 Articles of Amendment
13. Dec. 4, 2000 Articles of Amendment
14. Apr. 8, 2003 PA Amended & Restated Charter
(Courtesy of watchtowerdocuments .com Barbara Anderson Sep. 2009)