Highlights of the Beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses
The Watchtower Organization teaches that it is God's sole earthly representative
Jehovah’s Witnesses are controlled by a "Governing Body" which they claim is the "faithful and discreet slave" spoken of at Mathew 24:15. This group consists of 10 to 15 mature men that, Jehovah’s Witnesses are told, have direct guidance from God. The Governing Body in turn instructs followers with this guidance through the pages of the Watchtower and other publications. Jehovah’s Witnesses are told by this "Governing Body" that Scripture alone is insufficient to understand the things of God. One needs the Watchtower Society and the literature it publishes to properly understand the Bible. ("Jehovah God has also provided his visible organization, his "faithful and discreet slave," made up of spirit-anointed ones... Unless we are in touch with this channel of communication that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do. Watchtower, December 1, 1981 p.27) They are the instruments God is using to teach the world the deeper things of the scriptures. People are not to think for themselves but instead submit to the Watchtower Society teachings. (" But a spirit of independent thinking does not prevail in God’s organization, and we have sound reasons for confidence in the men taking the lead among us. Watchtower September 15,1989 p. 23) Jehovah's Witnesses believe they are the only people on earth that are serving God and the only ones that will be saved. They dare not question the teachings of the Watchtower Society; one who questions the Watchtower Society is considered to be weak in faith and could be disfellowshipped.
Most Christian churches have a system of moral oversight, but their systems are set up to help individuals with problems. Only after extensive effort over a period of time is action taken. Jehovah's Witnesses claim that Disfellowshipping is a loving act but in fact it is their most important control mechanism. It allows the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to control its members with guilt and fear.
The Watchtower Society makes a lot of rules, based on their interpretations of various scriptures, that all Jehovah's Witnesses must follow. Members are taught that that they must turn each other in for any rule violations. If they observe another Jehovah's Witness breaking a rule and do not report him or her to the elders they are as guilty as the offending party. Anyone breaking any of the Watchtower Society rules is called before 3 elders in a private meeting that is conducted like a trial. The elders become judge and jury deciding whose is repentant and who is not.Members who are found to be unrepentant of violations of Watchtower rules by these elders, are disfellowshipped. Jehovah’s Witnesses can be disfellowshipped for a number of rule violations: premarital or extramarital sex, using alcohol excessively, using tobacco products, celebrating Christmas, reciting the pledge of allegiance, lying, stealing, joining the military, speaking to a disfellowshipped Witness, reading religious material not published by the governing body, or running for political office just to name a few. Fellow members are then required to shun him/her completely, having no contact even if the disfellowshipped person is a family member. (Some allowances are made if the family member is living in the same household). Disfellowshipping has a devastating effect because the individual's entire religious, family and social life are rooted in the Society. Keep in mind Jehovah’s Witnesses who are disfellowshipped are no longer part of the Watchtower Society and have, therefore, lost all hope of salvation until they can prove themselves worthy of being accepted back into the Watchtower Organization by their works. Elders in the congregation are the ones who decide when an individual has earned the right to come back into the fold, and the Watchtower Organization instructs elders that it would be very rare for one to earn their way back in less than a year. In order to earn their way back they must attend meetings regularly, sit in the back of the church -Kingdom Hall- while everyone in the congregation ignores them, if anyone did dare to speak to them they could be disfellowshipped themselves. They must do this with the knowledge that if Armageddon should come before they have earned their way back they will be destroyed. Sad to say Disfellowshipping has resulted in suicide. Those who leave on their own are treated just as a disfellowshipped one. Once you join their group there is no easy way out.
If a member is guilty of breaking a minor rule such as associating with a worldly person (one who is not a Jehovah's Witness) that individual could be marked. This means that other Jehovah's witnesses may only speak to them at the Kingdom Hall (the name Jehovah's Witnesses use for their churches). Jehovah's Witnesses are not allowed to associate with a marked individual in a social setting.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to accept blood transfusions for themselves or their children, believing that this is the same as eating blood and is forbidden by the Bible. Many of Jehovah’s Witnesses have died because of this restriction the Watchtower Society has placed upon its followers. In the past the Watchtower Society has forbidden its followers to get vaccinations or accept organ transplants, many people died needlessly before the Watchtower Society changed its rules and allowed these procedures. They still hold fast to the prohibition of receiving blood transfusions. See the web site "New Light on Blood"
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to salute the flag of any nation, recite the pledge of allegiance, stand for or sing the national anthem, run for public office, vote, or serve in the armed forces.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to celebrate Christmas, birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving, or any other holidays, claiming they all have pagan roots.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to associate with non-Witnesses including family. Exceptions are made if the non-Witness family member is living in the same household.
They do not believe in the Trinity. Instead, they follow a strict monotheism, in which: Jehovah is the Supreme Being. Jesus is the Son of God, a created being. 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 throughout his earthly life. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ. They believe that after the crucifixion, Christ died and was resurrected as an invisible, non-material, glorious, spirit creature. They believe that Jesus appeared on earth after his resurrection in a special body that Jehovah created for him.
The Holy Spirit they believe, is not a separate entity, but is simply a force: the method by which God interacts with the world.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that a person is the soul the Bible speaks of, and when a person dies nothing lives on, the person is dead and is conscious of nothing. When the time comes for God to resurrect them from the dead He will create a new body for them from His memory.
They totally deny the existence of the traditional Christian view of Hell. 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. Believers remain in death until the resurrection.
The Heavenly Kingdom took effect in 1914 with the invisible enthronement of Christ as King. A little flock or Anointed Class of about 135,300 people currently occupies it. All were selected after Christ's ascension into heaven at Pentecost (33 AD) and during subsequent centuries. The selection of the full complement of 144,000 was completed in 1935. Some 8,700 are still living on earth. They will spend eternity as spirit creatures in heaven with God and Christ and will rule over the other Jehovah’s Witnesses who remain on earth. Those spending eternity on earth are what Jehovah’s Witnesses call the Great Crowd or Other Sheep.
Salvation (Grace vs. Works)
Salvation requires that one accept Bible doctrines as interpreted by the Governing Body, be baptized as a Jehovah's Witness and follow the program of works as laid out by the Governing Body.
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that they believe in the grace of God and that one does not earn salvation by their works. While they give lip service to God’s grace, their actions indicate differently. Consider the policy of making a disfellowshipped person earn their way back into the congregation. Remember you must be a Jehovah’s Witness "in good standing" to survive the end times, and to remain in good standing you must follow the rules and works set out by the Watchtower Organization. If someone breaks a rule, the elders decide whether that person is repentant or not, if they decide they are not repentant they are disfellowshipped. A disfellowshipped witness will not survive the time of the end. Think about it, they are deciding who deserves God’s grace and who does not.
Wherever you find the word grace in most Bibles you will find the term "undeserved kindness" in their Bible. While this may or may not be an acceptable translation of the original Greek word, it gives them a great deal of latitude in their teaching. In the December, 1993 issue of The Kingdom Ministry (a publication for members only) in an article titled "Sow Bountifully but With Discernment" the Watchtower Organization printed this thought "We want to give deserving ones the opportunity to learn of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness and the Kingdom hope". This brings to mind some serious questions: How can anyone deserve God's undeserved kindness if it's undeserved? And just what methods would mortal man use to discern who deserves God's undeserved kindness and who does not, are not God's thoughts higher than man's? This statement really shows the attitude of The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society—not all people deserve God’s grace and it is the job of Jehovah's Witnesses to discern who does and who does not. Jehovah's Witnesses constantly boast that they alone are "preaching the good news of the kingdom in all the inhabited earth". Are they preaching in all the inhabited earth or just to the ones they deem deserving?
Jesus crucified on a stake not a cross
They reject the traditional symbol of Christianity, the cross, as being of pagan origin. They translate the Greek word from the Christian Scriptures "stauros" as "torture stake", and believe that Jesus was crucified on a single upright wooden stake with no crossbeam. They view the cross as an Idol and wearing or displaying one is considered idol worship.
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