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Jehovah's Witnesses

Major beliefs

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Beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses:

Jehovah's Witnesses call their faith: "the truth." 1 They have many beliefs similar to those held by fundamentalists and other evangelical Christians, These include:

bulletThe inerrancy of the Bible;
bulletThe belief that God inspired the Bible's authors
bulletThe Virgin Birth;
bulletJesus giving his life as a ransom for past and future humanity;
bulletOpposition to divorce,
bullet Opposition to homosexual behavior, and pre-marital sex
bullet Opposition to abortion;
bulletThe immense influence of Satan in the world;
bulletThe validity of a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation story and rejection of the theory of evolution
bulletEtc.

There are many exceptions where Witnesses deviate from historical conservative Christianity:

bulletThey do not believe in the Trinity. Instead, they follow a strict monotheism, in which:
bulletJehovah is the Supreme Being,
bulletJesus is the son of God, the first created being, who is separate from Jehovah. Christ is believed to have originally existed in a pre-human state as the Archangel Michael. He later took human form as a man like any other person, except that he was sinless at birth and remained so through life. After his execution, Christ was resurrected as an invisible, non-material, glorious spirit creature. He was enthroned by Jehovah as King and ruler over all creation, and "given all authority in heaven and on earth."
bulletThe Holy Ghost is not a separate entity, but is an energy or force -- the method by which God interacts with the world.
 
bulletThe Heavenly Kingdom took effect in 1914 with the invisible enthronement of Christ as King. It is currently occupied by a little flock or Anointed Class of about 144,000 people who were selected by God after Christ's ascension into heaven at Pentecost (33 CE) and during subsequent centuries. Some 8,500 are still living on earth; this number is declining due to deaths among the group.
 
bulletThey reject the traditional symbol of Christianity, the cross, because it is of pre-Christian, pagan origin. They accept an alternative translation of the Greek word "stauros," rendering it as "torture stake." They believe that Jesus was executed by being nailed to a single upright wooden stake with no cross beam. This was a fairly common practice of the Roman army at the time of Jesus' execution.
 
bulletChrist's Second Coming has actually happened. It was not a physical return to earth. It was an invisible event in 1914 in which Satan and Christ engaged in a heavenly battle. Afterwards, Christ began to the rule the Heavenly Kingdom as King of Kings. Satan was expelled to Earth. World War I was a visible sign of Satan's ousting from Heaven and earthly imprisonment. This event marked the beginning of the woes that would accompany the "last days of this system of things."
 
bulletIn the very near future, the battle of Har-Magedon (Armageddon) will begin. Jesus, under Jehovah's divine rage, will execute vengeance upon most non-Witnesses and most followers of those other religious traditions which ignore the Bible or follow interpretations of the Bible that do not agree with the Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs. The Witnesses refer to those religions as "Babylon the Great," or the "world empire of false religion" (Revelation 17). After much suffering, massive human genocide, and many upheavals, the world will be purified. The Earth will be returned to a peaceful, cleansed state ruled by Jesus Christ and populated by a "great crowd" who accept his rule and God's sovereignty. "God's Kingdom," a theocracy, will be established on earth and operate for 1,000 years. This is known as the millennium or the "New System" of things. The "other sheep" (those who survive Armageddon), will live in peace in the newly created paradise. At this point "there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous." (Acts 24:15). The faithful will be granted eternal life. Others will be given a second chance to accept God's rule. Jehovah's Witnesses' beliefs on this near universal resurrection are often misunderstood or misrepresented by critics of the WTS.
 
bulletAfter the 1,000 years of God's Kingdom, Satan and his demons will be released for a short time. They, and their human followers, will then be destroyed.
 
bulletHumans do not have an immortal soul that continues on after death. When they die, they cease to exist. With the exception of those who:
bulletKilled Jesus,
bulletHave sinned against the Holy Spirit, and
bulletGod has judged to receive eternal death,

all others are resurrected. God creates a new body for the resurrected one, similar to their former body, which for most had long since decomposed. The new body is mentally and physically healthy, with the original personality and memories intact. They will be judged according to their deeds.
 

bulletThey totally deny the existence of the traditional Christian view of Hell as a place of punishment and torture . Satan is regarded as having created the concept of Hellfire in order to turn people against God. They believe that hell is the "common grave of mankind" where people go when they die. They are not conscious there. Unbelievers simply cease to exist at death; they are annihilated.
 
bulletThe requirements for salvation are somewhat similar to those found in other conservative Protestant groups. It requires "taking in knowledge" of God and Jesus Christ (John 17:3), repentance of sins, acceptance of the sacrificial atonement of Jesus, and conforming, as much as humanly possible, to the teachings of the Christ as stated in the Bible. Good works are an expected evidence of the member's prior salvation but are not the source of salvation.
 
bulletWitnesses regard God's name, in the English language, as "Jehovah." Most Christian theologians believe that "Yahweh" is a closer approximation to the original Hebrew pronunciation.

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A brief comparison of Jehovah's Witnesses to historical Christian beliefs:

Teaching Jehovah's Witnesses Historical Christianity
Nature of Jehovah The Supreme Being, indivisible One person of the Trinity.
Nature of Jesus Son of God; a spirit, separate from Jehovah One person in the Trinity.
Nature of the Holy Spirit A force used by God to interact with the world One person in the Trinity.
Method of Jesus' execution On a torture stake, with no cross-beam. On a cross: a vertical stake with a cross-beam.
Christ's Second Coming Invisible, not physical. It happened in 1914 Visible and physical. Will happen in the future.
Hell A false concept created by Satan to turn people away from belief in Jehovah A place or state of being involving eternal torture in the presence of Jesus (Rev. 14:10)
Salvation Achieved by accepting Witness beliefs, being baptized, and following certain activities specified by the group. For Catholics: via church sacraments. For many conservative Protestants, by repentance and trusting Jesus as Lord & Savior. For others by leading a good life.

How you got here:

Home page > Christianity > Denominations >  Witnesses > here

Reference used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Kelly Saivo, "The Truth of Jehovah's Witnesses," Gilroy Dispatch, 2006-SEP-23, at: http://www.gilroydispatch.com/

Copyright © 1996 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written on: 1996-SEP-29

Last updated on: 2009-DEC-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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