do the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe?
Jehovah's Witnesses are quite forthcoming about their religion.
Their religion, unlike Mormonism, isn't an esoteric one.
Mormons come to your door, they don't tell you that they believe
in many gods, that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers, and that dark
skin is supposedly a curse.
they told you such things up front, you'd close the door immediately.
Such teachings are saved for initiates. Thus, Mormonism is an esoteric
religion (Webster: "esoteric: designed for or understood by
the specially initiated alone").
religion of the Jehovah's Witnesses is exoteric (Webster "suitable
to be imparted to the public"). They tell you up front what
they believe. And they tell you not just when at your door, but
in their publications. In "Jehovah's Witnesses in the Twentieth
Century", for example, may be found a chart titled "What
Jehovah's Witnesses Believe." The chart lists beliefs and
the scriptural authority for them. Let us examine some of the beliefs
which are peculiar to the Jehovah's Witnesses.
give scriptural passages from a Catholic translation; the "New
World Translation" of the Witnesses is not faithful to the
Hebrew and Greek where the originals fail to support — or where
they contradict — the Witnesses' peculiar doctrines.)
"Christ is God's Son and is inferior to him."
in support of this position are these verses: "And behold a
voice from heaven, saying: 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am
well pleased'" (Matt. 3:17). "For from God I proceeded,
and came" (John 8:42). "If you loved me, you would indeed
be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than
I" (John 14:28). "I ascend to my Father and to your Father,
to my God and your God" (John 20:17). "The head of every
man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head
of Christ is God" (1 Cor. 11:3). "And when all things
shall be subdued unto him, then the Son also himself shall be subject
unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."
(1 Cor. 15:28).
About Other Verses?
first glance these citations seem imposing. It does seem that Christ
is inferior to God. But what about John 10:30: "I and the
Father are one"? Or, "He that seeth me seeth the Father
also" (John 14:9)? Or, "All things whatsoever the Father
hath, are mine." (John 16:15)? These seem to contradict the
other verses. How do we make sense of all this? By keeping in
mind that Jesus is both God and man. Some verses, such as these
last three, refer exclusively to his Godhead. Others refer to his
humanity. So far as He is God, Jesus is equal to the Father. So
far as He is man and a creature, He is inferior to the Father. (The
Uncreated is always superior to the created.)
"Christ was the first of God's creations."
cited in support are these: "Who is the image of the invisible
God, the firstborn of every creature" (Col. 1:15). "And
to the angel of the church of Laodicea write: ‘These things saith
the Amen, the faithful and true witness, who is the beginning of
the creation of God’" (Rev. 3: 14).
see what is being argued in the first of the two verses: that "first
birth" implies succession, superiority, inferiority. But many
Scripture scholars understand this to be a Messianic title which
refers back to Proverbs 8:22. The sense is that it was in Christ
that God contemplated the plan of the universe.
what about the second verse, from Revelation? Frankly, it is hard
to see how it helps the Witnesses at all. It says Christ was the
source of creation. This would seem to impart divinity to Christ.
"The wicked will be eternally destroyed" (that is, no
hell, just annihilation).
given in support: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting
fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels... And these
shall to into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting"
(Matt. 25:41, 46). "Who shall suffer eternal punishment in
destruction, from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of his
power" (2 Thess. 1:9). You can see for yourself that these
verses actually prove the opposite of what the Witnesses teach —
that is, they prove the existence of hell.
blood into the body through mouth or veins violates God's laws."
Jehovah's Witnesses are perhaps best known as people who won’t allow
themselves or their children to have blood transfusions.
support their position with these verses: "You shall not eat
the blood of any flesh at all, because the life of the flesh is
in the blood, and whosoever eateth it, shall be cut off" (Lev.
17:14). "For it hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to
us, to lay no further burden upon you than these necessary things:
That you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood,
and from things strangled, and from fornication" (Acts 15:28,
Witnesses Eat Kosher?
first two verses are part of the old dietary law, which was abrogated
by the New Covenant. Christians didn't have to follow the old ways
— that is, they didn't have to "eat kosher." If the old
dietary law wasn't abrogated, why don't Jehovah's Witnesses follow
all of it? Their eating habits should mimic those of today’s Orthodox
Jews. Of course, that isn't the case at all.
verse from Acts comes from the chapter that described the Council
of Jerusalem. At the time there was tension between Gentile Christians
(who were the recipients of this letter from the Council) and Jewish
latter still followed the Mosaic Law; the former didn't. As a purely
disciplinary, not doctrinal, matter, the apostles decided that the
Gentile Christians in Antioch should, so far as practicable, follow
a course that wouldn't antagonize the Jewish Christians. Thus the
"Greeks" were instructed to adhere to those four conditions
which, from early on, had been binding on Gentiles who wished to
associate with Jews (cf Lev. 17:8 18:18).
old dietary laws simply don't apply to Christians today, and the
ones given at the Council of Jerusalem passed into disuse as Jewish
conversions to Christianity became uncommon toward the end of the
first century and the Church became mainly Gentile. They weren't
immutable doctrines, but disciplinary rules.
ancient interest in blood — not confined to the Jews — was based
largely on the notion that blood carried the life principle of the
body. After all, if you drain the blood from a man, he dies.
know now blood doesn't have the status the ancients thought it did.
We know far more about anatomy and medicine than they did. There
isn't anything more sacred about blood than about any other part
of the body. There is no reason to classify blood transfusions
as sinful, just as there is no reason to classify other normal medical
treatments as sinful.
"A clergy class and special titles are improper."
support of this position, Jehovah's Witnesses refer to these verses:
"I will not accept the person of man, and I will not level
God with man" (Job 32:21). "But be not you called Rabbi.
For one is your master; and all you are brethren. And call none
your father upon earth; for one is your father, who is in heaven.
Neither be ye called masters; for one is your master, Christ"
(Matt. 23:8-10). "You know that the princes of the Gentiles
lord it over them; and they that are the greater, exercise power
upon them. It shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be
the greater among you, let him be your minister: And he that will
be first among you, shall be your servant" (Matt. 20:25-27).
23:9 is used also by fundamentalists when they argue against the
priesthood. "How can your priesthood have been established
by Christ, when you call priests 'Father' in violation of Scripture?"
our Lord was saying we shouldn't give to men credit for what really
comes to us from the Father. He shouldn't be understood in a crassly
literal way. If Matthew 23:9 were taken that way, you'd have trouble
finding a title for the man who married your mother.
in mind that Paul called himself the father of the church he founded
in Corinth: "For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ,
yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have
begotten you" (1 Cor. 4:15). Elsewhere, Paul called himself
a teacher (l Tim. 1:11). Was he violating Christ's instruction?
Of course not.