Baptismal Questions of Watchtower

The 2015 printing edition of the Organized to Do Jehovah’s Will book (‘Organized’) outlines the current two-pronged baptismal questions posed at candidates. These questions, as they are today, are a verbatim reflection as when they were first introduced in 1985.[1] The questions succinctly read:

Q1. On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?
Q2. Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?

Baptismal Questions

Organized to Do Jehovah’s Will Baptismal Questions (2015).

To qualify for baptism, a candidate has to answer the above two questions in the affirmative – typically in front of a large audience, at a convention or assembly. A cursory look at the questions suggests no complexity whatsoever. They are otherwise prima facie innocuous. But are they really?

Let’s unpack these questions into their various components and see what it is exactly that we are dealing with here. Let’s analyse how the organisation, in effect, attempts to segue from the first question right into the second, arguably to create a singularity of sorts by marrying the two.

Baptismal Questions: One (Q1)

This one is pretty simple and straight forward. The key element is dedication to Jehovah (on the basis of Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice).

Baptismal Questions: Two (Q2)

This right here is the question of interest. It is meticulous, and tailor-made for the organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is, effectively, a trailer that hooks itself onto the first question. Let’s break it down.

The section ‘do you understand that your dedication…’ is the part that hinges itself onto the first question. Why? Because it references the dedication that the candidate has just acknowledged, namely, the dedication made to Jehovah. Now, coupled with that dedication is the subsequent baptism – the baptism that is shortly about to follow – which is said to identify the candidate as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Let’s stop there.

First, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses? Who is a ‘Jehovah’s Witness?’ If I’m a fellow who is not affiliated to any Christian denomination but I read the bible, live by it and I promote the God of the bible, am I a witness of Jehovah? Put differently, if I read the bible and I bear witness to the God of the bible, am I a witness of Jehovah… or not? Alternatively, in saying: ‘identif[ies] you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ are we strictly referring to the religious sect[2] (formerly known as the ‘Bible Students’) founded by Charles Taze Russell, which sect – at least as of 1931 – now adopts the name ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’?

Continuing: ‘…in association with God’s spirit-directed organisation.’ Which God? Jehovah? Okay. And which organisation? Jehovah God’s organisation? Meaning the Watchtower organisation? Okay. So the Watchtower organisation is God’s organisation… because? What? Jesus invisibly appointed its leaders as the Faithful and Discreet Slave[3] back in 1919?

The Issue With Q2

Now, there are a total of four people mentioned within these two baptismal questions – two spiritual persons (Jehovah and Jesus), one natural personal (the baptismal candidate) and one juristic person (the Watchtower Corporation).

Now, if someday I should satisfy myself that the group known as Jehovah’s Witnesses – and indeed its legal arm, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society – are not Jehovah/God’s spirit-directed organisation, namely, the ‘true religion,’ would that undermine my dedication to God? Put differently, if at the time of my baptism I had a bona fide belief that the group which adopted the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” is not in fact God’s organisation, would that affect my dedication to God? Put differently yet again, if I subsequently reject the premise of Q2, would that affect my position on Q1? Could I not simply ‘unhook’ Q2 and still legitimately continue on the premise of Q1? Is this ‘vow’ not divisible? Does rejection of one imply rejection of the other? Can one not simply abort Q2 and thus leave the organisation without it being correctly stated that one is in fact leaving Jehovah; but that, more accurately, one is simply leaving the organisation that confidently claims exclusivity with said Jehovah?

But you see, the way the baptismal questions are set up they create an entrenched mental trigger for claiming that, in ‘unhooking’ the organisation from Jehovah and abandoning said organisation, one is in fact abandoning Jehovah. One is then said to be breaking their vow to Jehovah; the alleged vow-breaker is then viewed as having overtly gone AWOL. This then ‘ligitimises’ the orgnisation’s well-crafted definition of ‘apostate’ with its projected consequences.

In crafting the questions this way, the organisation has in effect ‘kidnapped’ Jehovah; it has weaved itself into his fabric thus creating the impression that these two entities are incapable of being mutually exclusive, that leaving the organisation is in fact tantamount to leaving Jehovah.


Clearly, one should evaluate the baptism peculiar to Jehovah’s Witnesses – the sect – with a touch of circumspection.  Few ‘baptisees’ grasp the import of this two-tiered question. Suffice is say that the guy who crafted these two questions had a legal mind – he thought it through.[4] The idea was to make this transition iron-clad, right from the critical date of official membership.


[1] The Watchtower June 1, 1985 page (?).

[2] Zion’s Watch Tower October 1883, page 537, under the subheading ‘Our Sect,’ expressed Charles Taze Russell’s views as: ‘Since we hold to a set of doctrines delivered to the Saints by Jesus and the Apostles, and since we separate and cut ourselves off from all other religious jurisdiction and control, therefore it follows that we are a SECT.’ [Italics mine].

[3] Matthew 24:45-47: ‘Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that if his master on arriving finds him doing so! Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.’

[4] I’m tempted to say Hayden Covington, but he died 1978, after a brief respite from disfellowshipping at that.