The Watchtower teaches that there is no salvation outside of “Jehovah’s Organization.” But this statement is somewhat vague, as we can both agree and disagree. So, let’s start with the agreement.
If Jehovah Himself has established something and commanded His followers to be a part of it without qualification, then obviously, we should do so. To that extent, we can find some agreement with the Watchtower. But where the Christian may part ways is whether the Bible teaches this. And if it teaches it, are there exceptions?
According to the Watchtower, its much more black and white. I’m willing to be corrected on this, but i’ve yet to see anything from the Watchtower stating something along the lines of, “All true Christians should worship Jehovah and remain in faithful association with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and Jehovah’s Witnesses…unless…” Instead, we get very clear and often unqualified instructions with no exceptions:
***w93 9/15 p.22 They Compassionately Shepherd the Little Sheep***
If we were to draw away from Jehovah’s organization, there would be no place else to go for salvation and true joy.
***km 11/90 p.1 par.1 Directing Bible Students to Jehovah’s Organization***
Bible students need to get acquainted with the organization of the “one flock” Jesus spoke about at John 10:16. They must appreciate that identifying themselves with Jehovah’s organization is essential to their salvation. (Rev. 7:9, 10, 15) Therefore, we should start directing our Bible students to the organization as soon as a Bible study is established.
What is meant by “Jehovah’s organization?” Clearly, it is the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are in association with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Therefore, if you do not worship with them, regardless of the reason, then you cannot have eternal life. In light of this, I have a few thoughts and questions.
What if the Watchtower leadership goes into apostasy (which would require “independent thinking” to even begin to determine and is expressly forbidden)?
According to the Watchtower,
***w80 8/1 p.18 par. 7 Remain “Solid in the Faith”***
The apostasy that was “already at work” while some of Christ’s apostles were still alive became prolific “in later periods of time,” that is, after their death. The five telltale signs became increasingly apparent from the second century on and reached a climax in the fourth century. This mass apostasy was due to occur before the “presence of our Lord Jesus Christ” and “the day of Jehovah.”—2 Thess. 2:1-12.
Since its supposed climax in the fourth century, how would the faithful Christian during this time have known which organization to belong to, lest they forfeit their salvation? In addition, the faithful Christian would certainly have had to manifest “independent thinking” (again, which is expressly forbidden to faithful Christians) to even consider which organization to belong to in the midst of such a mass apostasy.
Is it possible that in the midst of such rampant apostasy and plurality of beliefs (which is certainly with us today), that some faithful Christians may feel obliged to worship Jehovah individually and with a small gathering of believers in their homes? The “faithful” part must be emphasized, because the Watchtower would certainly not refer to them as “faithful” since they are not worshipping within “Jehovah’s Organization.”
This is an issue that Christians like myself have to work through and is not as black and white as Jehovah’s Witnesses might believe. But then again, to think otherwise would be “independent thinking.” However, I would challenge Jehovah’s Witnesses to think through this and realize that faithful Christians come to Christ for salvation and not an organization (John 14:6). While being organized and having some type of organization is something Christians should strive for, its not always possible or easy.