Die Jehovah–getuies : 'n onchristelike kulte?
Stoker, Hendrik Gerhardus
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The aim of this study is to find an answer to the question whether or not the Jehovah's Witnesses could and should be described as an unchristian cult. The Jehovah's Witnesses is a religious group that was founded in the USA towards the end of the nineteenth century. Since then their numbers have grown considerably and they have recruited members in almost every country of the world. They regard themselves as the only true Christians. In this thesis the validity of their claim to be Christians is evaluated. Another question that is examined, is whether or not the Jehovah's Witnesses could be regarded as a cult. A religious cult can be defined as a religious group that sets out actively to control both the earthly and eternal lives of its members. This end is achieved by several means: the leader or leaders pretend that they and only they act on God's behalf; that their doctrine and their interpretation of the Bible have divine authority and that salvation, eternal life or a special position before God is only possible through membership and zeal in the service of the group and according to the norms of the group. The research method for this thesis is a study of the relevant literature and exegesis. A critical survey of the development of the different points of view and doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses is attempted. This survey is based on the abundance of publications by this organization. In addition, an intensive evaluation is made of their current views on certain practices and doctrines in the light of the Scriptures. Additional information that is used, was obtained over a period of five years from several personal conversations with members, ex-members and close relatives of Jehovah's Witnesses and other religious groups. Firstly, the different characteristics of cults that have been identified by researchers are considered. These characteristics are classified under twelve headings, namely control over members in relation to thoughts, behaviour, emotions, information and environment, language, norms, salvation, membership, view of God, history, doctrines and interpretation of the Scriptures. Then the Jehovah's Witnesses is evaluated according to these characteristics. The conclusion reached is that they completely comply with all twelve of the said characteristics. Secondly, the history of the Jehovah's Witnesses is examined, as well as their prophesies and doctrinal tendencies. Their history clearly exposes the falsehood of the cultic claim that they are God's specially appointed representatives on earth. The many false prophesies and doctrinal about-turns further confirm that they are an unchristian cult of purely human origin. Finally, a thorough exposition and evaluation of the doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses are given. From their idea of God as well as other doctrines it becomes clear that this group cannot be regarded as a Christian group. The final conclusion of the thesis is that the Jehovah's Witnesses is most definitely an unchristian cult.
- Theology