Jehovah Witnesses & Christians

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I asked a Jehovah’s Witnesses once if she was a Christian, and she said yes. I replied I was a Christian also, and then asked if I was a Jehovah’s Witness, and she said no. I agreed, then pointed out that there must be significant differences in what I believe and what they believe. I then questioned how she could be both a Christian and a Jehovah’s Witness, but I could not. That question gave her pause. 

Of course, you can decide for yourself, so here is some information that solidified my opinion that Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW’s) are not Christians. 

This following began in 1872 when Charles Taze Russell founded Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society. His followers grew, but then in 1913 his wife filed for divorce for the reasons of “…his conceit, egotism, domination, and improper conduct in relation to other women.”1 That resulted in many followers walking away from this new edition of Christianity. A few years later Russell passed away, and Judge Rutherford took the helm. Rutherford made many discreet alterations to some of the prophecies of the Watch Tower Society. Most significantly were the statements that Christ would return before 1914. Rutherford passed away in 1942, and Nathan Knorr became the chief officer. Under Knorr, the Watch Tower Society continued to grow along with the frequent and anonymous publications they would hand out. 

Bruce Metzger, one of the most respected Bible scholars of the 20th century, wrote concerning the JW’s, “It is manifestly impossible to attempt to refute in one brief article even a fraction of the distortions of Biblical interpretation perpetrated in the voluminous writings of this sect. It is proposed, rather, to give consideration to one of the fundamental errors of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, namely, that which concerns the person of Jesus Christ.”1

So who is Jesus and why is it important we believe in who He says He is?

The salvation of everyone depends on their belief in Jesus as God’s son. Jesus made that clear in John 8. “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” John 8:24. So who do the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is? Not God.

For example, In 1959, the Watchtower magazine wrote, “Do not erroneously conclude that Christians are to worship Christ; that is not what he taught.”2 In 1964 the same publication wrote, “It is unscriptural for worshipers of the living and true God to render worship to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.”2

The Watchtower Society teaches its followers that salvation is based on works, not Christ. They emphasize total obedience to the Watchtower Society, and distributing Watchtower pamphlets and literature is an essential part of their salvation process.3

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was an angel before he came to earth; in fact, he was the archangel Michael and was the first being created in the universe. 

They consider themselves Christians but not Protestants. They don’t believe in the Trinity. They believe Jesus was a created being and not part of the Trinity.

JW’s believe that Jesus began ruling in heaven as King in 1914 (when World War I began) and that a small number of people, 144,000 will actually be saved. 

JW’s believe they will be saved (if they are one of the 144,000) by works. Salvation by works is the major them of every other major religion in the world today, and Christianity is the single exception. Ephesians 2:8-9

The JW’s believe in the inspired word of God, but they have their own translation of the Bible, which was published in 1961. They call their translation the New World Translation (NWT), and it has been widely criticized for changing the meaning of words to fit their beliefs and tenets. The most popular and widely respected translations are:

  1. New International Version (NIV) 
  2. King James Version (KJV) 
  3. New Living Translation (NLT) 
  4. English Standard Version (ESV) 
  5. New King James Version (NKJV) 
  6. Christian Standard Bible (CSB) 

Their New World Translation is not listed as only the JW’s use this translation, which has been translated to support their views. One example of this is John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. JW’s believe that because there is no definite article (the) in the Greek reference to Christ that it should be translated that Christ is “a God” not “the God the Father”. This reasoning is incorrect for multiple reasons. There are many references to Christ as God the Father in the New Testament. Take a look at John 8:58; John 10:30; John 20:28; Colossians 1:15; Colossians 1:15-16; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8 are just a few examples. Ron Rhodes explained linguists have pointed out that it is not necessary to translate Greek nouns that have no definite article with an indefinite article because there is NO indefinite article in Greek.4

JW’s do not celebrate Christmas or Easter because they believe his death, not His birth, should be celebrated. They also think these holidays are rooted in ancient pagan customs, and our celebrations of these holiday’s offended God. 

JW’s do not go to war and quote Matthew 26:52 to support that belief. 

Finally, JW’s do not participate in politics. They don’t belong to any political party and do not vote in any local, state, or nationwide elections. 

Today, many people use “Christian” to describe their basic cultural behaviors, religious observances, or family traditions. Christianity is something they do, not necessarily believe. For example, if they were raised in a religious home, have some generic belief in God, go to church at least on the major holidays, try to treat others as they would want to be treated, and their good deeds outweigh their bad, they are a Christian. Being kind to others, believing in God, and attending church are good things, but that does not make a Christian any more than going to a garage makes a mechanic. 

A standard definition of a Christian is “…a person who has put faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, including His death on the cross as payment for sins and His resurrection on the third day.”5 Simply put, a Christian is someone who believes in the work of the cross and whose heart and behavior reflect Christ. Acts 11:22-26 Early followers were first called Christians in Antioch because of their Christ-like behavior, and that behavior came about because of their accurate view of who Christ was.

Does that mean Christians don’t lie, lose their temper, are cruel, self-serving, and have a laundry list of shortcomings, bad habits, or addictions? Romans 7:15-20 Of course not. Christians are forgiven, not perfect. Should Christians be forgiving and gracious toward others? Should Christians be loving and pray for those who are unkind or cruel to them? Should Christians care for those in need, the poor, abused, sick, widowed, elderly? 1John 4:9 Of course, but being a follower of Christ goes beyond the outward expressions we can see but includes the condition of the heart, which only God can see. 

Ultimately God looks at our hearts. Our deeds may have an outward appearance of charity and compassion, but the motives behind such behavior are what God looks at. Isaiah 64:6. Believing in Christ, the Person, and work of Jesus is what will save us. John 8:24 Charity and putting others before ourselves is a natural outcome for Christians, but God can peek behind the scenes and see what is going on backstage. Charity and putting others before ourselves is a natural outcome for Christians. But God can peek behind the scenes and see what is going on backstage and what goes on backstage is determined by someone’s worldview.

John Stonestreet wrote, “Is the world we live in a creation, an accident, or an illusion? Do we live in God’s world, or was God an invention we brought into our world? Is the world we live in the one described by Jesus, Richard Dawkins, or Oprah? Are we nothing more than biological by-products of time plus chance plus matter? Is the world nothing more than a fabrication of our minds?6

John went on to explain those different religions, different views of how the world works, matters. It matters because depending on what we believe will determine how we act. For example, some may say they believe in God, believe in Jesus, but does it matter to them? Does it alter their behavior? Was Jesus just a wise man? Was He a God, was He one of many or is He the God of the universe worthy of worship?

What we think is real, what we think is accurate matters significantly. Is it possible to say you believe in God and Jesus and get other fundamental details wrong that are essential to an accurate worldview?

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Peter 2:1

Are Jehovah Witnesses Christian? by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Metzger, Bruce. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jesus Christ: A Biblical and Theological Appraisal. Bible Researcher. April 1953. [] []
  2. Rhodes, Ron. “The New World Translation is Inaccurate and Misleading,” The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say To a Jehovah’s Witness, Harvest House Publishers, 2001, pg 26 [] []
  3. Rhodes, Ron. “Salvation is by Grace Through Faith, Not by Works,” The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say To a Jehovah’s Witness, Harvest House Publishers, 2001, pg 75 []
  4. Rhodes, Ron. “The New World Translation is Inaccurate and Misleading,” The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say To a Jehovah’s Witness, Harvest House Publishers, 2001, pg 29 []
  5. “What is a Christian?” []
  6. Stonestreet, John, Kunkle, Brett. “Keeping the Moment and the Story Straight” A Practical Guide to Culture, David C Cook, 2017, p. 51 []

A Rescue

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Image by Lothar Dieterich from Pixabay

Have you ever had a life-changing event? Beat cancer? Stroke? Loss of a parent? Loss of a child, or having had to endure your child’s suffering? A war veteran? Heart attack? Broken heart? Divorce? Survive an accident that is nothing short of a miracle? Seen an accident firsthand that not everyone survived? I can relate to several of those, and maybe you can too.

Some events like those described above change us for several months. They give us a different perspective or greater appreciation for what we have and those close to us. We realize things could be much worse and are thankful for the health of our family and friends.

Some events change us for years. A different perspective, greater appreciation, yes, but some events give us a greater understanding that life is finite; some might call it an epiphany. We tend to love a little further, hold a little longer, encourage and sacrifice a little more. The small stuff is not such a big deal, and we easily extend grace to those around us. 

Then we have the events that change us for life. Sure, we have a greater understanding that life is fleeting and love those around us more, often extending grace, but you also realize the significance of forgiveness. You come to understand that forgiveness is the change we experience that goes beyond a change within. The change is so consuming, so occupying, you want to help others understand, help them see and experience what you have. Acts 4:13, Acts 13:46-48

God’s kingdom is nothing like our world. The world looks at our successes; God looks at our sacrifices. The world tells us to be in the spotlight; God tells us to step to the back of the line and put others before ourselves. Bob Goff wrote, “Love was never meant to be transactional. It doesn’t give to get. It doesn’t create spreadsheets to analyze how well it’s working. It doesn’t track how much Love you put in and measure it against how much Love you got back.”1 God’s kingdom tells us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31 The world tells us we deserve it! We have the right to, we are entitled to, and should reward ourselves. In other words, we deserve the best life now as Joel Osteen puts it. 

Sometimes the greatest sacrifice we can make is forgiving someone who has hurt us; Matthew 18:21-22, Luke 23:34 or asking them to forgive us for hurting them. I chatted with a friend not long ago who shared her experience of asking her ex-husband for forgiveness for divorcing him (and having good reasons for doing so). His first response to her was no, he could not forgive her, but then he said he understood why she left him. For her, this was a necessary step for her own healing. In other stories I have heard, this action would be unrealistic, unwise, or unnecessary. 

Nevertheless, forgiveness is vital to the health and well-being of individuals. “…practicing forgiveness can alleviate feelings of anger, avoidance and vengeful-ness that lead to negative consequences in one’s emotional and physical health as well as relationships.”2 People need to be able to forgive themselves and forgive others. Jesus’ final words were about forgiveness. 

What would you want your last words to be? Accusation, condemnation, guilt, or Love, forgiveness, and understanding? Someone said that holding a grudge (unforgiveness) is simply cultivating anger. Forgiveness allows us to move on without anger or contempt or seeking revenge. 

God wants us to be with Him, but to do that requires our being forgiven. Some call it the free gift of salvation that Christ offers. Lately, I have been looking at it more like a rescue than a gift. The whole reason Jesus came was to give us an out, and I know that almost sounds demeaning, like an ace up your sleeve; but Christianity, unlike any other religion, offers the gift, the rescue, whatever you want to call, it without works. Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, you name it, works are required. Look for yourself, and you will see that with any other religion, you have to sign on the dotted line and work for your assurance. 

God forgives and offers that through His Son Jesus. You simply have to decide if you want to, or need to be forgiven. If you are honest with yourself, you need to be forgiven, we all do. It is not a scale (like a teeter-totter) where your good outweighs your bad. If you want Jesus to step on the scale, you can’t add enough bad to lower your end; He takes it all. It is a rescue. 

Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free. – Stormie Omartian

Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. – Confucius on revenge.

Forgiveness is the key which unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. – Corrie Ten Boom

A Rescue by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Goff, Bob. “Love Doesn’t Have A Return On Investment.” Live In Grace, Walk In Love. Nelson Books, 2019, pg. 68 []
  2. Ryan P. Brown, Vengeance is mine: Narcissism, vengeance, and the tendency to forgive, Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 38, Issue 6, 2004, Pages 576-584 []
Burning in Hell

Burning in Hell

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Image by Jeroným Pelikovský from Pixabay

We know that we feel physical feelings through electrical impulses that send information to our brains through our nervous system. Once we die, we no longer feel pain due to the lack of a physical nervous system and, oh yeah, a brain. How could we ‘feel’ the excruciating flames of hell for eternity? Does God make you feel this torment for all eternity out of pure malice because you wouldn’t worship him?

This is the 16th question of 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer.

Literary devices are used by writers to help them convey a message. As you read the Bible or any other work, you will come across two types of literary devices. One is unavoidable, the other is optional. Literary elements are considered inescapable. They include setting, characters, mood, and theme. Literary techniques, on the other hand, are optional and help the writer express meaning to the reader. Literary techniques include metaphor, simile, alliteration, and hyperbole, all of which may allow the reader a greater understanding of the message the writer wishes to convey.

The Bible is made up of 66 different books with 40 authors contributing their writing styles over a period of 1500 years. It should come as no surprise when an author is expressing the consequences of hell, life after death, and an immaterial realm, that he would employ the use of metaphors and other literary techniques to convey a meaning that would be difficult to grasp.

Got Questions responded, “The variety and symbolic nature of descriptors do not lessen hell, however—just the opposite, in fact. Their combined effect describes a hell that is worse than death, darker than darkness, and deeper than any abyss. Hell is a place with more wailing and gnashing of teeth than any single descriptor could ever portray. Its symbolic descriptors bring us to a place beyond the limits of our language—to a place far worse than we could ever imagine.”1

Where does the Bible say we will “feel the excruciating flames of hell for eternity”? That was the first question that came to mind when I read #16 in his list of 50 questions Christians Can’t Answer. Well, it doesn’t. There are several passages that imply that and I list a few below.

Mark 9:43, “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.” (NIV)

Revelation 14:11, “And the smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” (NIV)

Revelation 20:10, And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever. (NIV)

Matthew 18:9, And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. (NIV)

Matthew 25:41, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (NIV)

How we end up ‘feeling’ hell is debatable. Taking the literary techniques expressed by the authors as literal meaning is silly, and to imply that would be absurd.

You will not find popular media or Hollywood implying we have a soul or any kind of immaterial realm after death, at least not in any kind of Christian religious sense of the word. A Time magazine article, which was advocating stem cell research stated, “These [embryos] are microscopic groupings of a few differentiated cells. There is nothing human about them, except potential, [or] if you choose to believe it, a soul.”2 Another example J.P. Moreland gave in his book The Soul, was from a popular T.V. show The Walking Dead. Moreland wrote, “In the first season’s final episode, a scientist shows a group of ordinary people a video of the inside workings of a live human brain. It looks like a complex web of wires and nodes, with a multitude of flashing lights traveling to and fro. He then declares matter-of-factly that all of the electrical activity that they see is actually the real you. When those ‘lights’ go off, you cease to exist.”3

As for the second part of the question “Does God make you feel this torment for all eternity out of pure malice because you wouldn’t worship him?” There are a couple of things to consider.

First, God does not make anyone enter hell. Everyone is given a choice, and He will not force anyone to live in His presence.

Secondly, scripture makes it clear what will happen to those to sin and do not accept the gift of salvation.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

2 Thessalonians 1:9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. (NIV)

Ezekiel 18:4 For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die. (NIV)

Ezekiel 18:20 The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. (NIV)

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 5:24 Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. (NIV)

John 10:27-28 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (NIV)

As you read these verses and many others you clearly see there are two options. Two fates. Two choices. Life and death. Life for those who accept the gift God has to offer, and death for those who don’t. John 3:16 made it quite clear some will have eternal life, others will perish. These verses say nothing about living in some kind of eternal torture or punishment.

Some may quote Revelation 20:10 as a pushback on eternal punishment. “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” The Greek word forever is ‘aion’ which does not necessarily mean unending. It can be an unspecified period of time, and our word eon (a geologic period of time) comes from that Greek word aion.

In 1Cor 2:6 “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.” Paul uses the same Greek word for age and you can see it does not mean an unending period of time. (NIV)

These questions, and others you may encounter, presuppose a world view that embeds a conclusion before you can even respond. They are often one-sided and uncharitable toward the person being asked the question, but if you sit down and give them some thought, you will find most can be easily responded to.

1. Houdmann, Michael S. “Is hell literally a place of fire and brimstone?” Got Questions., n.d. Web. 15 October 2016.
2. Moreland, J.P. The Soul. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014. Print.
3. Ibid.

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Burning in Hell by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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