Many door-to-door Jehovah’s witnesses are not aware of their own doctrinal history in their movement. If you had a privilege to talk to some of them, you will discover that a great number would deny that Jehovah’s witnesses once-upon-a-time worshiped Christ Jesus. It would be idolatrous to worship Christ Jesus, in their reasoning, since they believe Christ Jesus to be archangel Michael.
“Trinitarians who believe that Jesus is God, or at least the second person of the triune God, do not like to have Jehovah’s witnesses say that it is unscriptural for worshipers of the living and true God to render worship to the Son of God, Jesus Christ” Watchtower 1964 Nov 1 p.671.
It important to know what an act of worshiping Christ Jesus implies. I have put it in argumentative form.
- Only God/Jehovah is worthy of proper worship.
- Jesus Christ is worthy of proper worship.
- Therefore Jesus Christ is God/Jehovah.
Both today’s Jehovah’s witnesses and Orthodox Christians accept premise 1. In Awake! , a monthly magazine published by Jehovah’s Witnesses, of April 8th 2000 page 26, they correctly argued that “ Reverent adoration should be expressed only to God. To render worship to anyone or anything else would be a form of idolatry, which is condemned in both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures.”
Another way of stating premise one is found in the same magazine, a page later: “Accordingly, true Christians do well to direct their worship only to Jehovah God, the Almighty.”
Did Jehovah’s witnesses properly direct their worship to Christ Jesus ?
Premise 2, which today’s Jehovah’s witnesses denies, was once-upon-a-time in the first 74 years of their denomination taught to be the case. Witnesses properly worshiped Christ Jesus until the ending of 1953. It was the new year of January1954 when they publicly changed their position.
“Should we worship Jesus?
Consequently, since the Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ is not a trinitarian co-person with God the Father, but is a distinct person, the Son of God, the answer to the above question must be that no distinct worship is to be rendered to Jesus Christ now glorified in heaven.
Our worship is to go to Jehovah God. However, we show the proper regard for God’s only-begotten Son by rendering our worship to God through and in the name of Jesus Christ. Even now when we kneel in prayer, as Paul did according to Ephesians 3:14-19, we offer prayer in the name of Jesus Christ in obedience to his own directions (John 15:16; 16:23-26), but the prayer itself is addressed, not to Jesus, but to God his Father. In this way we keep things in their relative positions.” Watchtower 1954 1st January page 31
Evidences That Jehovah’s Witnesses Worshiped Christ Jesus:
The clearest and undeniable evidence come from 1945’s Yearbook, which laid out the purposes of Watchtower Society. Their third president, Nathan Homer Knorr, amended the Watchtower’s legal Charter that stated:
“The purposes of this Society are: To act as the servant of and the legal world-wide governing agency for that body of Christian persons known as Jehovah’s Witnesses to preach the gospel of God’s kingdom under Christ Jesus unto all nations as a witness to the name, word and supremacy of Almighty Good JEHOVAH; to print and distribute Bibles and to disseminate Bible truths in various languages by means of making and publishing literature containing information and comment explaining Bible truths and prophecy concerning establishment of Jehovah’s kingdom under Christ Jesus to authorize and appoint agents, servants, employees, teachers, instructors, evangelists, missionaries and ministers to go forth to all the world publicly and from house to house to preach and teach Bible truths to persons willing to listen by leaving with such persons said literature and by conducting Bible studies thereon to improve men, women and children mentally and morally by Christian missionary work and by charitable and benevolent instruction of the people on the Bible and incidental scientific, historical and literary subjects to establish and maintain private Bible schools and classes for gratuitous instruction of men and women in the Bible, Bible literature and Bible history; to teach, train, prepare and equip men and women as ministers, missionaries, evangelists, preachers, teachers and lecturers to provide and maintain homes, places and buildings for gratuitous housing of such students, lecturers, teachers and minister; to furnish gratuitously to such students, lecturers, teachers, educators and ministers suitable meals and lodging and to prepare, support, maintain and send out to various parts of the world Christian missionaries, teachers and instructors in the Bible and Bible literature and for public Christian worship of Almighty God and Christ Jesus; to arrange for and hold local and world-wide assemblies for such worship to use or operate radio broadcasting stations for preaching this gospel of the kingdom; and to do any and all other lawful things that its Board of Directors shall deem expedient for the purposes stated.”(bold added)
After 1954, Jehovah’s witnesses avoided to faithfully quote the original purpose of their own society: worshiping of Almighty God and Christ Jesus. For example in 1969’s Yearbook page 50, they removed “ and Christ Jesus” replacing it with “…” and in 1971’s Watchtower of December 15, which quoted the whole charter, “and” was replaced by a bracketed “through”: “for public Christian worship of Almighty God [through] Christ Jesus; to arrange for…”
Other documents that stated that Jehovah’s witnesses properly worship Jesus are:
Interesting Queries of July 15th of 1898, Question and Answers in Zion’s Watch Tower page 216.
Question. “… Was he really worshipped, or is the translation faulty?
Answer. Yes, we believe our Lord Jesus while on earth was really worshipped, and properly so”
Watchtower of October 15th 1945, page 313
Now, at Christ’s coming to reign as king in Jehovah’s capital organization Zion, to bring in a righteous new world, Jehovah makes him infinitely higher than the godly angels or messengers and accordingly commands them to worship him. Since Jehovah God now reigns as King by means of his capital organization Zion, then whosoever would worship Him must also worship and bow down to Jehovah’s Chief One in that capital organization, namely, Christ Jesus, his Co-regent on the throne of The Theocracy.”
And Watchtower of November 15th 1939 page 339
“Jehovah God commands all to worship Christ Jesus because Christ Jesus is the express image of his Father, Jehovah, and because he is the Executive Officer of Jehovah always carrying out Jehovah’s purpose (Heb.:3-6).”
This shows that Jehovah’s witnesses properly taught that Christ Jesus ought to be worshiped. It took 74 years to discover/reasoned that worshiping Christ Jesus logically leads to a conclusion that he is God/Jehovah .
N.B: I have attached scanned documents for context to which the quotes comes from.
Their shift is also echoed in their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. A term worship(proskuneo) is translate obeisance when directed to Christ Jesus while the same term is rendered “worship” when directed to Jehovah, angels, Satan, demons, the wild beast or idols.