“Oh, we’re Christians too!”. This is the phrase I often here from Jehovah’s Witnesses when I engage them in conversation. “We believe in Jesus too!” is another claim that is often made. This makes it sound as if Jehovah’s Witnesses are just another denomination of Christianity. But are Jehovah’s Witnesses Christians?
I’ve had many missionaries come to my door from many different religions. When I tell them I am a Christian, I get one of two reactions. They either thank me for my time and leave, or they continue to engage me. The group that leaves are usually from other denominations (Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, etc.). The ones that stay and engage are usually not Christians. If they were, they wouldn’t be trying to convert me to their belief system.
Jehovah’s Witnesses fall into this second category. While they claim to be Christian, they don’t recognize the teaching of classic Christianity. In fact, they deny several of the main tenants of classical Christianity. Here are some key doctrines of Christianity that are denied by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Watchtower Society has a completely different view of who God is that classical Christianity. While Christians hold to God being trinitarian in nature (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the J.W’s only recognize the Father as God. Jesus was the first created being of God but is not God Himself. The Holy Spirit is not seen as a person in the Trinity, but rather a representation of God’s power.
While Christians believe that our soul lives on after death, the J.W’s do not. They believe the soul dies with us, and then a new soul is refashioned for us in the resurrection. Those who are not believers will stay in a non-material death forever.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in hell. The dead only exist in God’s memory. They are annihilationist’s in their thinking that rather than go to hell, people will simply wink out of existence. They do not believe in eternal conscious punishment.
The Resurrection of Jesus
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was not physically raised from the dead. Instead he was raised as a spirit creature and went to live in heaven. Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross alone is not enough to save us. We must work to be reunited with God by living a life worthy of God. This is all in direct conflict with the Christian doctrine of attornment that states that Jesus’ death on the cross was sufficient to save us from our sins.
The Second Coming and Millennial Reign.
There are different Christian interpretations of the end times and millennial reign of Jesus. According to the J.W’s, the second coming of Jesus occurred in 1914. Jesus returned with an “Invisible spiritual presence” at that time. They also believe that at the same time Satan and his demons were expelled from heaven. According to the Watchtower Society, the increased chaos in the world since 1914 is evidence of this expulsion.
You Must Be A Member of The Jehovah’s Witnesses To Be Saved
While Christians recognize that different denominations within Christianity are still saved, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not. Unless you are a member of the Watchtower Society, you are not covered by God’s grace.
Eternal life requires more than just faith in Christ
According to the Watchtower magazine, there are four things required to be saved;
- Knowledge of God and Jesus Christ
- Obeying God’s Laws
- Being Associated With God’s Organization (The Watchtower Society)
- Loyalty to God
Again, Christians simply believe that placing trust in the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins is sufficient to gain access to heaven. There are no additional requirements, and you don’t have to belong to a certain denomination of Christianity to be saved.
These are just a few of the key differences between classical Christianity and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. As you can see, the beliefs of the two groups are stark even in this short list. It is difficult to see how the two systems could fall under the pale of the same religion. We are therefore safe to say that Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Watchtower Society do not fall into the realm of classical Christianity.
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