Group Snapshot: Jehovah’s Witnesses

The official name for this group is the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, often simply called the Watchtower. The members of the organization are generally called Jehovah’s Witnesses, witnesses or simply Christians. They meet in buildings called Kingdom Halls. They are known for their literature: The Watchtower magazine, Awake! magazine, The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, and numerous books and pamphlets. The Watchtower claims that its source of authority is the Bible. However the Witnesses are discouraged from reading the Bible by itself, and instead are required to study the Bible only as interpreted and presented through Watchtower books and literature.

Origins:

What is now the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society began in 1879. It was founded by Charles T. Russell. Russell was a man who had been influenced by Seventh-Day Adventists and was adamantly against the Christian doctrine of hell. In the 1870’s Russell was elected as “Pastor” by a small group of students who had gathered to hear his teachings. With Russell’s death in 1916 the leadership passed to “Judge” Joseph Rutherford. It was under Rutherford that the group took the name Jehovah’s Witnesses and established the essentials of their doctrine.

Essential Doctrines:

1. Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the Trinity. They believe that only the Father is Jehovah God.
2. Jesus is viewed as the first and greatest creation of Jehovah. He is a god, but not the Almighty God. He was created as the Archangel Michael, he came to earth as Jesus, and was resurrected a spirit creature. His resurrection was definitely not bodily and physical.
3. Not only is the Holy Spirit not God, he is not even a person in JW theology. The Spirit is the power or activity of God, his impersonal force at work.
4. The Watchtower denies the reality of an everlasting hell. Hell is death, the grave.
5. Men do not have souls that live on after death. They are souls. When a man dies, his soul is also dead. The resurrection is really God’s recreation of a person.
6. There are only 144,000 who are born again and make up the Bride of Christ. These will be resurrected and live in heaven with Jesus. The rest of the true followers of Jehovah, if they are resurrected, will live in natural bodies here on this earth.
7. The Watchtower is God’s theocratic institution here on earth. The Society speaks as the end-time prophet of God.
8. Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only true followers of God, the only genuine Christians.
9. Armageddon is due to occur at any time. When it comes then all false religions, especially churches, will be wiped out. The only ones left will the JW’s.

Summary of Beliefs

God: God is a solitary being. The idea of the Trinity is pagan and devilish.
Jesus: Jesus was the Archangel Michael before coming to earth. He is a divine being, the first
and greatest creation of Jehovah God. But He is not Jehovah, or the Almighty God. He died on a torture stake, not a cross; and resurrected as a spirit creature, not physically.
Salvation: Salvation is gained through the works you do for Jehovah.
Human nature: Man is fallen and needs redemption.
Afterlife: Man does not have a soul; he is a soul. When he dies, he ceases to exist. The
resurrection is actually a recreation of our persons. Only the 144,000 go to heaven, as the Bride of Christ. The rest of Jehovah’s followers live on earth eternally. There is no eternal hell.
Scripture: The Bible, but as interpreted through Watchtower writings.
Truth: They claim to believe in absolutes and a Biblical understanding of truth. But all is filtered
through Watchtower writings and teaching.

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