Bottom Line on the Jehovah Witness Church

Every now and then I write these huge answers to a comment, then I think, why not post this thing? So here’s my attempt at an answer to a great question about the Jehovah Witnesses. (when they come to your door, tell them the crazypastor said hi!)

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It is hard sometimes to know where to begin with the Jehovah Witness Church. They have many beliefs about a great many things that come from their own church tradition and their official interpretations. And you know, as soon as I say that, immediately someone from a Jehovah Witness Church might object and say that it isn’t their interpretation, but it is THE interpretation. It’s the rest of us who are wrong!

That’s my point.

Generally the Jehovah Witnesses Church considers itself right and everyone else wrong. They aren’t the only Church like that mind you. Nevertheless, differences of opinion are not allowed. They have even produced their own Bible translation, with the wording changed in many keys places to agree with their own doctrine. They of course claim this version is the most accurate translation even though Greek and Hebrew scholars wouldn’t agree.

In John 1 for instance, John makes a clear statement indicating that Jesus shared in the essence of God.

The American Standard Version of 1901 (usually considered the most accurate to the original languages) translates it this way: John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Word = Jesus)

The Jehovah Witness Church’s version of the Bible reads this way:
“In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”

(Notice Jesus was just a god in this one, not part of THE God. That’s because the Jehovah Witness Church doesn’t believe in the traditional Christian teaching of the Trinity. More on this later…)

The ASV also translates the following verses:
John 1:3 All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made.
John 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

(In Jesus was life, Jesus is the source of all life)

Whereas the Jehovah Witness Church’s version:
3 All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence. What has come into existence
4 by means of him was life, and the life was the light of men.

(by means of him was life, Jesus was just the conduit really)

No other version translates the verses this way. According to the Jehovah Witness Church, all those versions are wrong and they are the only ones who are right. (so for the rest of this article, I’ll just use their Bible since supposedly it’s accurate)

Because of the multitude and inflexibility of these disgreements, it’s tough sometimes to keep from launching into one argument after another when talking with the Jehovah Witnesses. They don’t want me to just put my faith in Jesus. They want me to believe everything the way they believe it. They want me to quit using any other Bible translation but the one they have. They won’t have anything to do with any other church because they don’t agree with them on a million different things. But again, they aren’t the only group of “Christians” like that.

It’s nevertheless important to ask what they believe about the basic doctrines or ideas of the Bible. What do they believe about the things that really matter?

For one thing, they are similar to the Mormons in believing that Jesus and the Father are separate entities completely. According to their website, they believe Jesus was created by the Father before the creation of the universe, and that Jesus then created everything else (or it was created through him).

They believe that Jehovah is God’s true name and anyone who doesn’t recognize this is not part of the true Church. Crazy thing is, Jehovah was actually something that resulted from scholars writing the vowels from “Adonai” -which means Lord, into the word YHWH -which is the name for God as it appears in the original Hebrew Old Testament. The Jews considered the name of God too sacred to say out loud so they would substitute by saying Adonai. Scholars used the vowel points from Adonai to fill in YHWH and ended up with YaHoWaH, which became… you guessed it…. Jehovah.

Jehovah for the Jews, isn’t really even a word or a name at all.

There are a great deal more things to argue over, the 144,000, what happens in the Millennial reign, Christmas trees, serving in the military, etc…

The focus on these arguments is a symptom of the real problem, and it’s much the same as that of the Mormon Church, and the official stances of the Catholic Church, and any other legalistic church groups: The real problem is the idea that we can only be saved if we join a particular church, agree with everything, and straighten up our life and do all the right things.

It makes a person wonder…

Was Jesus lying to the thief on the cross? The thief didn’t do anything except ask Jesus for mercy by faith.

My goodness, if God can’t save us unless we have everything figured out, he’s a pretty unfair God in my opinion. Here’s what the Jehovah Witness Church’s official website says I must do:

1. To become a friend of God, you must obtain a good knowledge of Bible truth (1 Timothy 2:3, 4), put faith in the things you have learned (Hebrews 11:6), repent of your sins (Acts 17:30, 31), and turn around in your course of life. (Acts 3:19) Then your love for God should move you to dedicate yourself to him. This means that in a personal, private prayer you tell him that you are giving yourself to him to do his will.

By the way, no one in the Bible (see the book of Acts) who ever became a Christian, EVER used a personal, private prayer or had all those steps above. They simply put their faith in Christ and got baptized in Jesus name.

2. After you have made your dedication to God, you should be baptized. (Matthew 28:19, 20) Baptism lets everyone know that you have dedicated yourself to Jehovah. So baptism is only for those who are old enough to make a decision to serve God. When a person is baptized, his whole body should be put under the water momentarily.*—Mark 1:9, 10; Acts 8:36.

Historically, baptism was an outward representation of leaving your old life behind and starting a new one. Baptism in the Christian world is an outward expression that I am leaving behind my old life and becoming a follower of Jesus. The Bible says my old life has been united with Christ in His death, (thus it’s gone, done, finished) and I live a new life which is united with Jesus in his resurrection (thus it’s a new life, raised from the dead so to speak). That stuff is in Romans 6 and II Corinthians 5.

3. After you have made a dedication, Jehovah will expect you to live up to your promise. (Psalm 50:14; Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5) The Devil will try to stop you from serving Jehovah. (1 Peter 5:8) But draw close to God in prayer. (Philippians 4:6, 7) Study his Word each day. (Psalm 1:1-3) Stick close to the congregation. (Hebrews 13:17) By doing all of this, you will gain the strength to stay faithful to God. For all eternity you thus can do the things that God requires of you!

So my salvation, according to the website, depends mostly on me. Jesus was my “ransom,” but I must learn it, believe it, turn my life around, say a prayer to dedicate my life to God, be baptized to show everyone else I’ve made such a dedication, keep my promise to God by serving Him -like the door to door witnessing for example-, continue to pray, study the Bible more, “stick close to the congregation” whatever that means, and by doing all of this… I’ll get strength to stay even more faithful.

That’s quite a list of things to do. Does the Bible agree? No.

According to Jesus from their own version of the Bible, the work of God is to exercise faith in Him. Jesus didn’t launch into a long list of how to be saved. When asked about salvation, Paul didn’t launch into a long list either, He told the Philippian jailer to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” They did, and he and his whole family were baptized. Peter didn’t launch into a long list when asked about salvation by thousands of people who had just come to realization of who Christ was. Peter told them to repent, (which means to change your mind and direction) and be baptized. No one ever mentioned sticking to the congregation, or turning your life around first, etc…

The Bible always comes back to believing in Jesus and hitching your wagon (so to speak) to Him. Maybe that’s why the Jehovah Witnesses Bible includes what Jesus said in John 6, when Jesus was asked what is required of us by God. Jesus said it was to believe in the One He has sent. Their Bible, of course, removes Jesus from the equation, and reads “to exercise faith in Him.”

Still, that ain’t nearly as long a list is it?

Galatians 2:20-21 (their version) “It is no longer I that live, but it is Christ that is living in union with me. Indeed, the life that I now live in flesh I live by the faith that is toward the Son of God, who loved me and handed himself over for me. 21 I do not shove aside the undeserved kindness of God; for if righteousness is through law, Christ actually died for nothing.”

Catch that? IF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THROUGH LAW, CHRIST DIED FOR NOTHING.

I’m not going to be made righteous by obeying the rules and regulations set forth by the Jehovah Witnesses Church or any other church. I’m not going to be righteous because I’m REALLY dedicating myself to being good. I’m not going to be righteous just because I want to, or I attend the correct church and agree with them on everything. I am made righteous by my faith in Jesus Christ who died for my sins, and the surrender of my life to him. That’s the only thing that works.

So the emphasis of “living up to your commitment” in my opinion will lead to frustration and/or pride because that is based on me and my stength instead of God and his strength through Christ.

…………………………………………………..

All that to say this. The Jehovah Witness Church has a great many opinions about a great many things. They make a lot of statements, and when Jesus comes up, they are usually trying to argue that Jesus and God the Father are separate beings, and the Father created Jesus etc…

I’m not sure which, or if, any of those teachings might cause someone to miss out on salvation from God’s wrath. The Main Things are still the Main Things: One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.

We worship Jesus as Lord, the Creator of the Universe, the Son of God who died as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and rose again as our hope of eternal life. We put our faith in him not simply believing he’s real, but also that our lives are in his hands from now on. We live a new life with the help and strength of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. To this end, we were baptized in Jesus name, an outward act of leaving our old self behind and beginning a new life with Jesus Christ who lives in us through the Holy Spirit.

As their version of the Bible says about Jesus:

9 For this very reason also God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every [other] name, 10 so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, 11 and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. -Philippians 2:9-11

There’s your main thing right there. Jesus. Called Him Lord, just as the Jews would call the Father Lord, not Jehovah, which wasn’t even a word at the time. Still isn’t if you’re a Jew.

Perhaps this separates us more than anything, because Christianity has always exalted Christ higher than the Jehovah’s Witnesses tend to do. They would disagree, but the early church doctrines and creeds, including the entire Gospel of John, specifically went out of their way to include Jesus as part of God. These days we call it, The Trinity. The idea that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are three distinct persons, but together make up one God. The word itself is not in the Bible, but the idea -the concept is, and it’s just easier to call it something than to try and explain it every time.

In other words, don’t get hung up on the word “Trinity” not being in the Bible. The concept is. The words “personal relationship with God” and “family of God” are not in the Bible either. They are just names we give ideas from the Bible because it is convenient to do so.

So when the Bible says God is one… Ephesians 4:6, Deut. 6:4,
and Jesus says he and the Father are one… John 17:21
and Jesus is worshiped as God,… as mentioned above
and takes the name of God ….in John 8
Is called God… John 1
and is the Creator as even the Jehovah Witness Church believes,
and all the places in the New Testament where Jesus is recognized as having the attributes of God. …such as Hebrews 1:3 but many more

Well you can see the idea anyway that God includes Jesus. The Bible says God is one, but here is Jesus telling Philip in John 14ish… that “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”

Having said all of this, if someone wants to explain it differently and/or use a different word, I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that they would go to hell for it. The thing that determines whether or not a person will be saved from God’s judgment is the decision they have made to accept or reject Jesus as their Lord and their Savior.

Which is the real problem with the Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine. They emphasize works, and doing things as somehow earning salvation. The Bible actually condemns this.

You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. -Galatians 5:4

Salvation is not based on who has figured the most things out. Salvation is based on the grace of God, through our faith in Jesus. In a general sense, nothing we can do, can ever earn us enough points to be saved, instead, we need to be right with God by accepting Christ. Jesus is the line in the sand generally speaking. As the Bible says, “salvation is found in no one else.”

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10 thoughts on “Bottom Line on the Jehovah Witness Church

  1. Me again. I’ve just got to know: Why does it matter so much what they do or don’t believe?

    Have you ever read any of the Best Spiritual Writing books edited by Zaleski and Goldberg? One is published each year, and each book consists of a collection of these beautiful writings/essays that focus on truth, goodness, and spirituality. I happened to open the 2002 edition earlier today and came across one of the main reasons the editors use to veto writings: “writing that attacks other people or their spiritual or religious beliefs.”

    “Just sayin’.”

  2. The Spiritual or religious beliefs of a Jehovah’s Witness or… ME for instance, are what we (me and the members of the Jehovah Witnesses) believe to be actual truth. So I believe if I’m right about Trinity, they are incorrect, and vice versa if they are right then I am incorrect. So it’s a debate.

    And the Jehovah Witnesses question my salvation and are not okay with me staying as the pastor of my church. They come to my door and try to convert me to their church. The reasons why they do this, and the beliefs they hold are thus up for debate and discussion.

    Again, though, I wouldn’t necessarily condemn them for disagreeing with me on many of the issues we disagree over. All truth is equally true, but not all truth is equally important. I can be wrong about many things and still be right with God.

    But when you read the letters Jesus sent to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, you’ll see that Jesus strongly condemned false teaching that led people into sin and away from him, and he commended those (The church in Ephesus for instance in chapter 2) for defending and guarding the beliefs and teachings of their church.

    Since all of my friends, and all of the members of our church will have missionaries from the Jehovah Witnesses come to their door, I think church leaders have to address some of the differences. Properly explaining the word and teaching in accordance with sound doctrine is part of the job description in the Bible for Church leaders.

    Guarantee you many of the things Jesus said and Paul wrote would have never been published by Zaleski and Goldberg. Jesus called the Pharisees “snakes” and Paul told the Galatians that those who wanted to be circumcized should be condemned.

    Having said that, generally we do get too wrapped up in the arguments, as I’ve tried to say. Only a few things matter most. Personally, I would like to study the word alongside the Jehovah Witnesses without labeling and pigeon-holing each other so much.

  3. I truly admire your fervor. It’s obvious that you are genuinely concerned about the beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and about their diligence in trying to win you and everyone else over “to their side.”

    Something I’ve learned over the years is that some things are simply beyond my ability to control. They might annoy me or frustrate me or even madden me to the point of being enraged, and yet they’re out of my so-called circle of control (Stephen Covey). For instance, this war upsets me so much that even with my eyes closed I can see some of the horrific images in my mind. The homeless situation in SC saddens me, but I cannot control it (nor the war!). The ailing housing market upsets me big time because we’re trying to sell one house and buy another. But can I do anything about it? Not really. I teach several single mothers who have no plans to marry their babies’ daddies because they don’t want the hassle of commitment. HUH? All of these things bother me in some way, but they are not things I can control. All I can control are my own thoughts and actions.

    However, I CAN use my circle of influence (Covey again) to perhaps alter someone’s thinking. In doing so, however, I’ve learned that I have to use mutual respect, patience, and love unfeigned.

    I’ve strayed a little from my initial idea. All I really wanted to say is that if they (JWs) are knock, knock, knocking on your door, don’t answer it. The doorbell and telephone are for your convenience, not theirs. And let them worship how they may. I mean, you might as well because you can’t change or control them anymore than they can change you. They’re happy with their beliefs…just like you are.

    I just thought of something that happened many years ago when one of my daughters was dating a young man who was not LDS. He expressed a slight interest in the church, however, and occasionally attended meetings with her. My daughter wanted him to hear the missionary discussions which would have to take place at the boyfriend’s grandmother’s house since he was staying with her at the time. Well, Ms. Minnie said NO with a capital N. My little daughter was so angry and went on and on and on about how Ms. Minnie was close-minded and stubborn and opinionated. I suggested to my daughter that she attend church with Ms. Minnie and Eric that Sunday. She was aghast! “Why would I want to do something like that?” she asked. “My point exactly,” I replied. “You see Ms. Minnie and everyone like her (everyone not interested in learning about the LDS religion) as close-minded and stubborn, but you’re guilty of acting the same way.” There was no way under the sun that either of these gals was going to give an inch. Why should they when they were both happy with the peace and faith that their beliefs brought them?

    That’s it for today. I sincerely do admire your fervent approach to things…just don’t know if it’s going to affect the JW religion.

  4. Ah, I wouldn’t mind being silent, staying out of the debates and enjoying only my own life. I’d rather do that. I certainly do not despise those in the Jehovah Witness’s church, or any other church. In fact, have many friends who are religious, Mormon, Christian, atheist, you name it.

    But Matthew 28:18-20 is a command and I am compelled to obey. Making disciples, preaching the word and teaching what Christ commanded us will often make people uncomfortable. Probably what Jesus meant when he said, “I did not come to bring peace.”

    But at the same time he was telling people they would all die if they didn’t repent (Luke 13) he was also accused of being a friend of tax collectors and sinners. I think the difference is he went where people were, associated even with those who would never follow his teachings. In other words, he didn’t he condemn them and ignore them, but loved them and continually taught the truth. He loved them even when they didn’t listen, but he didn’t give up either.

    You already made the point about loving those who disagree. 🙂

    Of course, I think you are saying there isn’t a substantial amount of disagreement and we should allow someone in a Christian church (whatever the name on the outside) to worship God in peace. I would agree if that’s where you’re at.

    Yet we still are commanded by the Bible to “teach what is in accordance with sound doctrine.” So while we must stop short of condemning another church or group, we should not stop teaching and discussing sound doctrine. And when it comes to Christ, and the essential truths of the faith (those things that define a person as a Christian or not, namely Jesus Christ, crucified and risen) those aren’t just taught but defended since the eternal destination of a person hinges on it.

    Obviously won’t get everyone to accept Jesus, but we gotta try since he’s coming back.

  5. What’s up crazypastor? I am sure with a little detective work you will know who I am.

    I am married to a JW. I am an atheist.

    JW’s do have some good qualities, and that is what can lure (for a lack of a better word) questioning Christians of other denominations in. They bring up a number of the pagan holidays that most Christians faithfully celebrate and point out the true origins of the holidays, especially Christmas. They go after the Catholics and there “idol” worship by their promoting of saints. They actually study the bible (I know it’s their version but you get the drift), and once you are a member it really becomes required reading. They don’t believe in heaven and hell. They think the 1,000 year reign will happen here on earth and the wicked will die. They don’t believe in the trinity as you discussed above. You can visit my site for more information.

    I have little to stand on as far as religious beliefs but I personally never had a problem with their baptising after a person is old enough to decide if Jesus is their saviour. Original sin and baptising of babies never made sense to me even when I was involved in churches in my youth. That may be a good topic for your blog if you haven’t done it already.

    That being said, they also have a number of faults, most of which are chronicled in The Kingdom of the Cults, some of these you have pointed out above, the main one highlighted in the aforementioned book is their translation of the Hebrew and Greek texts. They also have the blood transfusion issue, which in the past has cost many lives, especially of children. And above all, they can be very cultish. And by this I mean, if one’s entire family is in the Truth, and a sibling quits or gets disfellowshipped (is found not to be living the right way), they are basically ostracized from their own family. Which forces many to remain passively involved in the religion just to keep peace. This is pretty much what is going on with my wife right now. She would never have my beliefs but she can’t really look elsewhere because her entire family is involved.

    I’m sure we’ll talk again soon, if not here elsewhere.

  6. Hey there, my first time on this site. Found it quite by accident as a matter of fact! Was surfing for info on the JW beleifs as i am a tupperware demonstrator and seem to suddenly have a large number of JW customers, one of which i have done 2 demos for now. She is a kind, sweet lady and we have chatted at length many times. I am a christian and have never know a JW personally, only at the front door, very briefly! We were talking yesterday about childbirth, and she mentioned that after the birth of her second daughter she was hemmoraging and faced a dilema about blood transfusions. I was going to ask why, but felt it may open up something i was not prepared for, so i went home and started surfing instead! I do agree that there would be many who stay in the church for fear of losing loved ones and friends, it is so wicked and saddens me deeply. I am not sure i could ever help anyone so indoctrinated, i just have to pray that one day, if she truly sees difference in me that appeals to her, she will have the courage to ask me what it is.

  7. I bet you’ll be a big help just by being a friend, by telling “your story” when appropriate and giving your personal beliefs in a respectful, loving way. When you show respect for someone who comes at life from a different world-view, they tend to return the respect and listen to your beliefs a lot more. So, I think you’re on the right track. Never hurts to pray for wisdom either! God bless your efforts!

  8. check out this website, its the church i belong to and have for some time now. Wonderfud Godly people and the best and most straightforward bilbical teaching i have ever come accross. Tell me what you think 🙂

    thechurchofgod.com.au

  9. Wow girl. Huge amount of information on your church! I clicked a link on the doctrine stuff that promised more information and my computer downloaded a 260 page book to adobe reader. Now THAT’S more information! Very cool. It will take me awhile to get through the site and look at enough to say something intelligent, but my first impressions: Loved the emphasis on real repentance, real surrender to Christ when a person comes to him for salvation. I like the fact they take clear stances. In fact, I’m stealing a few ideas for how our church here could present the message in the Bible better. And I like the emphasis on making any doctrine consistent with the rest of the Bible. That was spot on. And on first glance, (if I was going to disagree with anything) I think I saw maybe one or two things where I thought taking a real harsh stance against those who disagree wasn’t all that important. In my opinion, when it comes to a doctrine that doesn’t effect salvation and an interpretation that while ultimately incorrect, is nevertheless consistent with the whole of the Bible, I personally believe it’s fine to have a different opinion. Whoever ends up being proven wrong has to buy everyone else a Pepsi in heaven. As one preacher said, “All truths are equally true, but not all truths are equally important.” There were a couple of truths I didn’t think were as important to agree on.

    But overall, I thought the church is definitely saying and doing some good things -on first glance. I can see why you like it.

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