MAJOR DOCTRINES OF THE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
With respect to spiritual truth, these are some of the presuppositions that Jehovah's Witnesses hold:
1. Divine guidance comes only through the Watchtower.
2. Jehovah's Witnesses alone have the truth of God.
3. Jehovah's Witnesses are told that all Christian bodies are false and controlled by Satan.
So it is important that we study the Jehovah's Witnesses theologically for these reasons:
1. Through their door-to-door evangelizing (1,057,000,000/hours) many are deceived by their organization and Christians need to be prepared.
2. They claim to be a "Christian" group and to teach the Bible accurately and this assertion must be checked to see if it is true.
3. That this organization alone claims to be the voice of God to men and all others are condemned to annihilation.
4. They inadvertently encourage such an investigation.
I. THEOLOGICAL UNDERPINNINGS
A. Charles Taze Russell stated that the basis for his theology (and continues to be for the Organization) was "reason...Then we have endeavored to build upon that foundation the teaching of scripture." Studies In The Scriptures
B. An example of this is in their denial of the Trinity. They say they "cannot scientifically calculate" it, that "any trying to reason out the Trinity teaching leads to confusion of mind." "The Word" Who Is He? According To John
C. Jehovah's Witnesses are also taught to use reason to attack the beliefs of others (Jesus both God and Man, Jesus equal to God but subordinate, One God but three persons).
CONCLUSION: Human reason is used to build their theology and the Bible is made to fit in it. All doctrine is tested by its reasonableness and accepted or rejected by that criteria.
II. JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES AND JESUS CHRIST
A. Definition: "The only begotten Son of God, the only Son produced by Jehovah alone. This son is the first born of all creation. By means of him all other things in heaven and on earth were created. He is the second greatest personage in the universe. It is this Son that Jehovah sent to earth to give his life a ransom for mankind, thus opening the way to eternal life of those of Adam's offspring who would exercise faith..." Reasoning From Scripture
B. The Witnesses claim that Jesus Christ has existed in three separate, different states:
1. First State. First and only creation by Jehovah, known as Michael the Archangel in this state. As God's CEO he could be rightly called "a god," but not God Almighty. Thus he is not eternal or equal with the Father.
2. Second State. Jesus as the perfect man. Michael in heaven gave up his God- like characteristics and his "life force" became Jesus, the perfect man, the perfect Second Adam. There is no incarnation. "Nothing became flesh." When he died he was annihilated. The human Jesus ceased to exist.
3. Third State. At the death of Jesus nothing existed for three days. Jehovah raised Jesus from the dead as an immortal spirit, Michael the Archangel. His resurrection is actually a recreation since nothing was actually resurrected. Jesus continues to be and forever will be an angel.
C. Three classic verses used to prove that Jesus is not God, and a Christian response to these verses.
1. John 1:1 "In [the ] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god." [NWT]
a. In their own Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures they have written under the Greek, "and god was the Word." Their English translation is a violation of Greek grammar rules.
b. The Bible teaches that there is only one true God (Isaiah 43:10; 44:8; Deut. 32:39; John 17:3).
-in these verses it is stated that there are no created gods, and no god with Him.
-John is a monotheist and so is his audience.
-Yet, by inspiration he tells them, "in the beginning" there was "a god" with Him.
-The Jehovah's Witnesses thus become the polytheists. It does no good to try and redefine the term "god."
c. John 1:3 states that the Word (Jesus) is the Creator of all things.
-John states this two ways: (positively) "all things came into existence through him" and (negatively) "apart from him not even one thing came into existence."
-This is a very strong way to state that Jesus is the Creator.
d. If all existing things were divided into two classes, things made and things not made, into which class would the "Word" of John 1:1-3 fit?
-Obviously he would belong to the class of what has not been made, what is uncreated.
-This contradicts the Watchtower translation of John 1:1, but harmonizes with the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity.
2. Colossians 1:15 "He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation." [NWT] Witnesses use this text to "prove" that Jesus is a created being and therefor not the Eternal God.
a. First-born cannot be understood as being chronological because in v.18 Jesus is called the "first-born from the dead." Other people were raised from the dead before Jesus (Lazarus [John 12], Jairus' daughter [Luke 8], widow of Nain's son [Luke 7]).
b. Also, first-born does not necessarily mean the first one born or created. It is often used to denote importance or rank rather than birth order. [Psalm 89:27, David is called first-born; Genesis 41:51- 52 with Jeremiah 31:9, Manasseh and Ephraim]
c. Look at the context. In verse 18 Christ is called the "head of the body", "the first born from the dead" for the purpose that "he might be first in all things," preeminent.
d. To support their view Jehovah's Witnesses have to insert "all [other] things" four times in verses 16-18 in the place of "all things." Use your own Bible here with the Witness. Ask why "other" is inserted.
3. Revelation 3:14 "These are the things that the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God." [NWT] Jehovah's Witnesses use this to prove that Jesus is the beginning of the creation.
a. God the Father is the speaker in Revelation 21:6; 22:13. therefor "the beginning" must mean something other than the first thing created.
b. The word "beginning" occurs in three other places in Revelation (1:8; 21:6; 22:13). The implication in these verses is that God is the beginner and consummator of creation -- that He is the first cause. It is reasonable to assume that is the meaning also in 3:14.
D. A Subordinate Relationship, Self Limiting
1. Many verses in Scripture seem to indicate Jesus is lesser and subordinate to the Father.
-John 14:28 "The Father is greater than I..."
-John 17:3 "that they may know Thee the only true God..."
-Mark 13:32 "of that day and hour no one knows, not even the Son..."
Thus, how can He be the Creator who is eternal and independent of all?
2. From a Trinitarian view this is entirely consistent.
a. Jesus is perfect God and perfect man.
b. In His humanity He is subject to the Father.
c. this demonstrates that within the Godhead the Father has a different function than the Son.
EXAMPLE: Consider the President of the United States. Within the population of this country he is greater than any other citizen by virtue of his position, authority and recognition. But since his is a function and role within the realm of human beings, it does not mean that he is more than human or the others less than human.
E. Jesus divine claims, attributes, worship of.
-Jesus accepted worship, (Gr. Proskuneo) which is reserved for God.
-Jesus claimed to be the "I AM" (ego Eimi) which was understood by his hearers to be a claim to be YHWH, evidenced by the fact that they picked up stones to stone him with (John 8:58)
III. JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES AND GOD
A. Definition: There is only one Almighty God, whose name is Jehovah. All of human history is focused on the vindication of Jehovah's Name, which was defiled by Satan's rebellion and man's subsequent fall.
B. Historic Christianity defines the Trinity as one true God who exists eternally as three Persons; one nature/essence with three centers of awareness.
C. Why the Jehovah's Witnesses reject the doctrine of the Trinity.
1. The Word Trinity is not found in the Bible (but neither is the term theocracy).
2. Such a doctrine is unreasonable, confusing and an insult to God-given intelligence (But the standard to measure the truth of any doctrine is not reason but the Scriptures. What do they teach?).
3. It is of Pagan origins (History does not support this contention. The doctrine of the Trinity was an attempt to preserve the monotheism of Judaism).
4. It is one of Satan's most successful attempts to deceive people (The same could be said of the Jehovah's Witness rejection of it).
D. The doctrine of the Trinity is supported by the Scriptures. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are so easily linked together in the Bible that assuming God is not three Persons makes it impossible to understand certain texts (Matthew 28:19; II Corinthians 1:21-22; 13:14; Ephesians 2:18; 3:11-16; 5:18-20; I Thessalonians 1:1- 5).
E. The following questions lead to a Trinitarian understanding
F. Jehovah's Witnesses deny the personality of the Holy Spirit (language is figurative, personification, not to be literal). However...
1. Satan is believed in as a person who does not possess a body.
2. He has intelligence, ability to communicate, capability for interpersonal relationship, etc.
3. How come these attributes don't apply when talking about the Holy Spirit.
4. If the Jehovah's Witness is going to be consistent he must either give up the personality of Satan or accept the personality of the Holy Spirit.
IV. JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES AND SALVATION
Does it matter if a Jehovah's Witness misunderstands God, Christ, or salvation? This question is similar to asking, "Does it matter if I try and spend a counterfeit bill?" Counterfeit bills do not work, yet they set up expectations for the owner of one that cannot be fulfilled. Similarly, in the market place of Heaven no one can spend a counterfeit faith. It does matter deeply to God if a Jehovah's Witness misunderstands any of these critical doctrines!
A. Definition: In Watchtower doctrine this is understood from the perspective of three classes:
1. "The Congregation of God," also known as the "anointed class," the "Remnant," or the "144,000." filled up by 1935.
-Hope to dwell with Christ in Heaven. Must remain faithful to his organization.
-restricted to 144,000 who are "spirit begotten," born again, water baptized and anointed by God
-recreated as spirit creature after death, will rule with Jesus over the "Great Crowd."
2. "The Great Crowd" is the second class. This is the majority of Jehovah's Witnesses. They will dwell in earthly paradise with recreated physical bodies.
a. Salvation for Great Crowd (the "other sheep") is not by faith alone.
1. Cannot be justified in this life or born again.
2. Faith in Jehovah and His Son is nominally required.
3. Salvation primarily attained through works.
-Knowledge: knowledge of God's purposes by studying the Bible.
-Obedience: obedience to God's laws
-Association: associated with God's channel, his organization to receive everlasting life in paradise on earth.
-Witnessing: God requires that His true followers loyally proclaim His Kingdom rule to others.
3. Non-Jehovah's Witnesses who have lived a good life make up the third class.
-Can earn salvation after death.
-All who are worthy are recreated by Jehovah to live in the Millennium. Must gain perfection during this millennium or be annihilated.
B. Biblical Salvation: The True Christian Position.
1. There is but one ground upon which God grants salvation, and it is freely offered to all men.(Galatians 1:6-8; John 3:16; Acts 4:12).
2. No one by his own good works can ever be saved (Romans 3:10-20; Ephesians 2:8-9 NWT).
3. Available to those who recognize their unworthiness, repent from their sin, and place their faith in Christ's work on the cross for them (Romans 3:22, Luke 18:9-14 NWT).
4. Everlasting life comes as a consequence of believing in Jesus, alone (John 5:24; John 6:47 NWT).
C. The Resurrection
1. Definition: The resurrection is not the restoration of an individual by joining his soul to a resurrection body; it is the recreation of the individual from the life pattern contained in the memory of God. Thus, Jesus was not resurrected from the dead from a Christian understanding.
2. Historic Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ was raised, victorious over death, in the same material body in which He had died, but now glorified and resurrected.
a. Luke 24:39 - Jesus expressly denies that he is a "spirit creature."
b. John 2:19-21 - Jesus specifically describes the nature of the resurrection.
c. John 20:24-29 - Jesus complies with Thomas' test to prove the resurrection.
3. How does the Watchtower respond to these verses?
"Jesus evidently materialized bodies on these occasions as angels had done in the past when appearing to humans...to strengthen the convictions of the disciples that Jesus had actually been raised." Reasoning From The Scriptures
a. Makes no sense if resurrection is not supposed to be bodily.
- Why would a physical body be proof of a predicted immaterial resurrection?
- This would make Jesus a deliberate deceiver.
- He indulged His disciples' wrong idea of a material body proving an immaterial resurrection.
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