Saturday, December 18, 2010
What Do They Believe? Jehovah's Witnesses
Burial site at Masonic cemetary for Charles Russell Taze
Beginning: From Bryan McAnally’s “Indispensible Guide to Practically Everything”: “In 1870, Russell was influenced by a teaching that Christ would return in 1874. After that date passed uneventfully, Russell believed his new understanding of Christianity corrected many common errors. He believed that Jesus had in fact returned invisibly in 1874 and had begun to usher in a new age of his reign that would culminate in 1914.”
His theology was greatly influenced by his Masonry teaching, and he wrote prolifically about his new enlightened understandings.
His writings became “Zion’s Watchtower Society” and his subscribers formed a religion based on his teachings, electing Taze pastor. Taze died in 1916. Jehovah’s Witness formed in 1931 under the leadership of Joseph Franklin Rutherford, based on the writings Charles Russell Taze.
View of Scripture: “Russell published 6 books between 1886 and 1906 as part of his studies in the Scripture series: The Divine Plan of the Ages, The Time is at Hand, Thy Kingdom Come, The Day of Vengeance, The Atonement Between God and Men, The New Creation. The Finished Mystery was published after his death in 1917. In1950, the Watchtower Society released The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures as the authoritative translation of the Bible and the official version for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Ex: In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. The New World Translation
View of God: “Russell taught that God is Father to all humankind, but not Father to Jesus as understood by mainline Christianity” God is NOT omnipresent, but uses his Holy Spirit to accomplish his work. The Holy Spirit has the ability to go anywhere. (Not everywhere at the same time.)
View of Jesus: Jesus was Michael the archangel until he decided to go to earth to pay the penalty for sin, then his name was changed to Jesus. Jesus (Micheal) was the beginning of the creation of God, the express image of the invisible God, and was the instrument by which all things were created. He was born of the virgin, Mary, lived a perfect life, and was tortured and killed to pay the price for the offences of all people throughout human history. He was resurrected, ascended to heaven and will return one day to establish God’s kingdom on the earth.
They teach Jesus did return invisibly in 1914 and was enthroned as King of heaven. In 1918 Jesus began to resurrect from among the dead those from the 144,000 people who would join him in heaven.
Despite Christ’s reign, Jesus is still considered inferior to and completely distinct from Jehovah God. (Error- rather Jesus is an extension of God’s revelation of Himself to His creation. Jesus is the visible expression of the one true God. In other words. Jesus is that one true God’s expression.)
View on Salvation: All other Christian religions were in error, and his group had exclusive insight into correct biblical interpretation. Only faithful, members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses will either live with Jesus in heaven (only 144,000) or eternally in an earthly paradise, all mandates of the church must be strictly observed- extremely legalistic. Salvation by works i.e.: door-to-door knocking campaigning, forbidden from receiving blood transfusions, forbidden from celebrating national holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. You cannot worship Jesus as God. You must call God “Jehovah”. Also forbidden: singing the National Anthem, saluting the flag, pledging allegiance to the flag, voting, or serving in the military. Failure to comply equals being disfellowshipped- without hope of heaven or an earthly paradise.
View on Death: At death, since they believe there is no difference in body and soul, all dead will lie in burial without consciousness, saint or sinner, until the final resurrection. Jehovah’s love for his creation won’t allow him to torture people forever in a lake of fire, so non-believers will simply be annihilated. The 144,000 will rule with Christ for 1000 yrs, then from heaven for eternity. The rest of the faithful will inherit the earthly paradise. Those not having chosen the Jehovah’s Witness faith will be given one last opportunity to accept it. Those who refuse will just cease to exist. No eternal judgment except annihilation. JW’s take no authoritative stance on the death of infants, children and mentally impaired.
View of the Church: Only faithful JW’s make up the true church. All others have been deceived, but there is yet hope for them.
Sacraments: Two. 1) Baptism-by immersion using the trinity formula of Matt.28:19 Baptisms are a regular feature of annual assemblies and conventions held by Jehovah’s Witnesses. They must study Watchtower books at least six months before they can be baptized; Before baptism, one must answer over 80 Bible questions with Scripture references in front of a panel of elders 2) The Lords Supper- Only the 144,000 may partake of the bread and wine, everyone is invited to the meal apart from the bread and wine.
Other Beliefs: God only speaks through the "Governing Body" in Brooklyn, New York
They must appear before a Judicial Committee if they are caught breaking Watchtower rules (Secret files are kept on all members which record these meetings-these files are kept in New York and are never destroyed) They are forbidden to play chess; They are forbidden to wear jade jewelry; They are forbidden to read any anti-Jehovah's Witness material; They are forbidden to interpret the Bible without Watchtower literature to explain it; They are forbidden to wear any Christian jewelry.
They are forbidden to buy Girl Scout cookies; Jesus was not born the savior but became the savior at his baptism.