What Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe
What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe? How different are their beliefs from those of historic, traditional Christianity? What follows is a list of 24 major teachings of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which is the official corporate head of the organization of the Jehovah’s Witness religion. This article provides a simple list of these teachings, without comment or rebuttal and without documentation. For documentation from official Watchtower publications for each of these points, see the longer article “What the Watchtower Society Teaches.”
- The Bible is God’s word but was corrupted by scribes who omitted the divine name Jehovah from the Christian Greek Scriptures (the New Testament) and by translators who distorted the Bible’s doctrines.
- No organized, visible community of faithful Christians existed on the earth for many centuries prior to the rise of the Jehovah’s Witness religion in 1919.
- The Bible cannot be understood accurately except through the publications and teachings of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the official organ of the “faithful and discreet slave” class that Jehovah has appointed to disseminate the true doctrine and to direct the work of the true religion worldwide.
- Loyalty to Jehovah’s organization on earth and acceptance of its teachings is required for salvation.
- The name Jehovah is God’s name and is regularly used in Christian prayer and speech by those who genuinely honor him.
- Jehovah God is the Father alone; the doctrine of the Trinity is a pagan, Babylonish dogma contrary to reason and the Bible. The Father is Jehovah the Almighty God, the Son is the first and greatest of God’s creatures, and holy spirit is God’s invisible active force.
- Jesus Christ was the first creature made by Jehovah God and the only creature that he made directly, all other creatures, including humans, being made by Christ using Jehovah’s power.
- Jesus Christ is also known as Michael, the archangel.
- As a created being, Jesus Christ is inferior to Jehovah and is not to be the object of Christian prayer or worship.
- Jesus Christ died on a simple upright stake with no crossbeam, not on a cross, which is a pagan symbol used by apostate Christendom to represent the death of Christ.
- Jesus Christ died as a “corresponding ransom” sacrifice, meaning as an exact equivalent to Adam, and therefore could not be God incarnate. He gave that sacrifice on behalf of obedient people who show by their behavior that they are worthy of eternal life.
- Salvation is a “gift” but is given conditionally to those who must still prove themselves worthy. Only those who use and proclaim the name of Jehovah, accept the direction and teaching of the Jehovah’s Witness leadership, are baptized (as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses), observe the organization’s taboos (against various “pagan” activities), and faithfully engage in the preaching of the Watchtower’s message of the kingdom are true Christians today and have the hope of being saved.
- Jesus Christ was not raised physically from the grave, but was instead raised as an immortal spirit; his physical body remained dead and was destroyed by God.
- Jesus Christ is never returning personally or bodily to the earth. He became invisibly present in a spiritual, figurative sense in 1914, when he began ruling as King in heaven.
- The earth has been in the “time of the end” or “last days,” a final period of time preceding the Millennium, since 1914 in fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
- Jehovah will eliminate the present system of things—its religions, governments, nations, economic systems, and human institutions—in the battle of Armageddon.
- Only 144,000 people (consisting of early Christian believers, a few scattered Christians over the centuries, and a select group of Jehovah’s Witnesses) are “born again,” members of the Christian congregation (the church), and members of the new covenant, and only they will live in heaven in the presence of God and Christ. Christ is the Mediator only for the 144,000, since only they are participants in the new covenant. Only these 144,000 are “spirit-anointed,” and they are known as the “anointed class.” The rest of saved humanity, known as the “other sheep,” will live forever on Paradise Earth and will have no direct contact with God, Christ, or their loved ones in heaven. The “other sheep” who constitute the vast majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses are called the “great crowd.”
- Human beings cease to exist when they die physically, and so in the future will be re-created by Jehovah God who in the meantime remembers them perfectly. To be “re-created” after ceasing to exist is what is meant by resurrection.
- Wicked people will not suffer eternal punishment but will simply be destroyed, that is, annihilated, ceasing to exist as the only sentence for their wickedness. Hell is merely the common grave of all mankind and in no sense a place of suffering or punishment.
- Christians must neither give nor accept blood transfusions, even to save their lives or the lives of others. Jehovah’s Witnesses who violate this rule are subject to being disfellowshipped.
- Christians should not celebrate birthdays, Christmas, Easter, other similar Christian holidays, or secular holidays such as Mother’s Day or Independence Day. All such celebrations are regarded as pagan.
- Christians should not vote in elections, hold political office, become involved in political affairs in any other way, salute a flag, or serve in the military even in noncombatant roles.
- True Christians will be known by their zeal in regularly engaging in public efforts to preach the gospel of the kingdom as taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses, particularly by disseminating Watchtower literature and offering to conduct Bible studies in people’s homes using that literature.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only true religion.
For thorough documentation of each of the above 24 points, see the article “What the Watchtower Society Teaches.”