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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses. Founded in 1872 by Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) There is no record of their religion before this time. Russell came from a Protestant background (Congregationalism) so many JW beliefs are Protestant.

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defending the faith jehovah witnesses
Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Founded in 1872 by Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916)

There is no record of their religion before this time.

Russell came from a Protestant background (Congregationalism)

so many JW beliefs are Protestant.

  • They reject the Eucharist, authority of the pope, the seven deutero-canonical books of the Old Testament, purgatory, confession, and the intercession of the saints
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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Mormon (1830) and Seventh Day Adventists (1831) are religious movements preoccupied with the date of the second coming.

JWs began from this same movement

  • All three religions claimed to know the exact date of the second coming. All three were discredited when their prophecies failed.

JWs like Mormons deny that the Holy Spirit is a person.

They teach that Michael the Archangel is Jesus, the second Adam.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Seventh Day Adventists teach the following two doctrines:

  • Man does not have a soul, he is a soul, and at death the soul goes into a sleep until the Second Coming
  • Hell is not eternal: at the Second Coming all the wicked will be annihilated.

JWs follow these beliefs with the exception that for them “soul sleep” became “soul disappearance” after death

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Arianism

The first major heresy to reject the divinity of Christ started around 318 AD

The Council of Nicea, 325 AD condemned this heresy.

Though the heresy plagued the church for another 100 years it was not seen again on a major scale until the 1830s in the United States.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

JWs claim that the early church did not believe Jesus was God.

Problems with vocabulary

JWs use the word “divine” to mean simply a holy person.

Orthodox Christians use the word “divine” to mean that Jesus is God.

When JWs use the phrases ‘only begotten Son’ (Jn 3:16) or ‘Son of God’ (Mt 8:29) they believe it means that Jesus was a special man.

For Christians these phrases mean that Jesus is truly God.

Christians and JWs are fundamentally opposed.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

JWs use the New World Translation

Catholic and Protestant Biblical translations are faithful to the original manuscripts

The NWT differs greatly from all the accepted Catholic and Protestant Bibles.

Catholics should never use this translation for devotional reading or study.

The following arguments are based on quotations from the 1984 edition of the NWT

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Merely Human Jesus

All orthodox Christians believe that Jesus is true God and true man.

JWs believe that Jesus is only man.

  • If you can prove the divinity of Jesus, you can prove the existence of the Trinity.
    • When shown that Jesus is truly God like the Father then their can be more than one person in the Godhead while still their being only one God
    • Jesus is the central figure in the New Testament an abundant number of verses exist discussing who and what Jesus is.
    • The early church Fathers focus their writings on the person of Jesus
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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Merely Human Jesus

Look! The virgin will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will call his name Immanuel, which means, when translated, ‘With us is God.” (Mt 1:23 NWT)

JWs admit that this is a prophecy about Jesus, who is called Emmanuel (God is with us.) Note that here Jesus is referred to as “God” not “a god.” the JWs say that God with a capital G, always refers to Jehovah, the one true God. Therefore Jesus, Emmanuel, is truly God.

“because it is in Him that qll the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily” (Col 2:9 NWT)

Paul stresses that the fullness of the Godhead, the fullness of divinity is in Jesus.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Merely Human Jesus

In answer Thomas said to him: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him: ‘Because you have seen me have you believed? Happy are those who do not see yet believe”’ (Jn 20:28-29 NWT)

Notice that Jesus rather than correcting Thomas praises those who would believe that He is the risen Lord and God without having to touch His wounds.

Jesus said to him: ‘Have I been with you so long a time, and yet, Philip, you have not come to know me? He that has seen me has seen the Father [also]”’ (Jn 14:9 NWT)

Jesus tells us that seeing Him is the same as seeing the Father. Thus He states that He is equal to the Father

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Merely Human Jesus

“I—I am Jehovah, and beside me there is no savior” (Is 43:11 NWT)

“This [spirit] he poured out richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:6 NWT)

However, when the kindness and the love for man on the part of our Savior, God, was manifested…” (Titus 3:4 NWT)

In Isaiah we are told that there is no savior besides God (Jehovah). In Titus Jesus is called our Savior and again our “Savior, God.”

It is important to recognize that these passages refer to a very unique kind of Savior who must necessarily be divine because he redeems the entire human race.

No mere creature can be called a savior in this special sense.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Merely Human Jesus

“For there has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be on his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Is 9:5 or 9:6 NWT)

All JWs agree that this is a prophecy about Jesus the Messiah. The phrase “Mighty God” could not refer to the Father because this person is “a child born to us.” The passage must refer to Jesus, the Mighty God.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Merely Human Jesus

“’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says Jehovah God, ‘the one who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty”’ (Rev 1:8 NWT)

“Look! I am coming quickly, and the reward I give is with me, to render to each one as his work is. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev 22:12-13)

In Rev 1:8, Jehovah God is called “the Alpha and the Omega.” In Rev 22:13 Jesus is called “the Alpha and the Omega.” Therefore Jesus and Jehovah God are the same.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Merely Human Jesus

“For Jehovah your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords” (Deut 10:17 NWT)

“And upon his outer garment, even upon his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev 19:16)

Both of these passages refer to a Lord of lords, again Jesus’ position is the same as Jehovah’s

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Merely Human Jesus

“Go therefore and make disciples of people of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

(Mt 28:19 NWT)

The disciples are commanded to baptize in the name (not the names). The Son and the Holy Spirit are listed as separate persons from the Father, yet they are given equal status with the Father. Not that the name is singular because there is only one God. This verse contains a clear teaching on the doctrine of the Trinity: three distinct persons in one God.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Merely Human Jesus

JWs insist that Jesus is only ‘a god’, not ‘The God’.

  • In Isaiah 44:6, God says, “besides me there is no God.”
  • In 1 Cor 8:4-6, Paul tells us that there is only one God, and that other gods are false gods.
  • In John 1:1 the JW translation unlike all other translation says, “the Word [Jesus] was a god”

Since the bible makes clear that there is only one true God, and the JW translation says that Jesus is not this God, but only “a god,” they are really saying that Jesus is one of the many false gods.

There is no middle choice: either Jesus is the one true God, or he is a false god.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Merely Human Jesus

JWs insist that Jesus is only ‘a god’, not ‘The God’.

  • In Isaiah 44:6, God says, “besides me there is no God.”
  • In 1 Cor 8:4-6, Paul tells us that there is only one God, and that other gods are false gods.
  • In John 1:1 the JW translation unlike all other translation says, “the Word [Jesus] was a god”

Since the bible makes clear that there is only one true God, and the JW translation says that Jesus is not this God, but only “a god,” they are really saying that Jesus is one of the many false gods.

There is no middle choice: either Jesus is the one true God, or he is a false god.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Jesus had to be both true God and true man.

  • He had to be truly human so that he could make atonement for the sins of the human race.
  • He had to be truly God so that the atonement would have infinite value, and thus make reparation to an infinite God.

Jesus possesses two natures:

a divine nature and a human nature

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Jesus has the right to choose between revealing what he knows as a man

versus what he knows as God

Jesus repeatedly reveals events that will occur at the end of time.

The end of the world will occur at the Second coming of Christ.

Christ knows when He is going to return,

as is clear in numerous Bible passages

(Mt 24:14, 27, 37-42; Mk 13:24-27; Lk 12:40, 18:8, 21:25-28; Rev 3:11, 16:15, 22:20)

Jesus knows the end of time as God

but chooses as man not to reveal it.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Those passages which describe Jesus as subordinate to God the Father refer to him as man.

“the Father is greater than I”

(Jn 14:28)

They must be read and interpreted in light of other passages that refer to Him as God

“I and the Father are One”

(Jn 10:30)

“He that has seen me has seen the Father”

(Jn 14:9)

Jesus made statements about himself that only God could make

“I am the way and the truth and the life”

(Jn 14:6)

No created being can say I AM the life

A creature can only say “I have life “ or “I know the truth”

Only God can say I AM

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Early Church Fathers

St. Ignatius of Antioch (110 AD)

Co-worker and disciple of John the Apostle

Bishop of Antioch

Wrote in his letter to the Ephesians:

“For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God’s plan”

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Early Church Fathers

St. Irenaeus (140-202 AD)

Bishop of Lyons

Against Heresies

“But not knowing Him, who, from the Virgin, is Emmanuel, they are deprived of His gift, which is life eternal. And nor receiving the Word of incorruption, they remain in mortal flesh and are the debtors of death, not have received the antidote of life… Nevertheless, what cannot be said of anyone else who ever lived, that He is Himself in His own right God and Lord and Eternal King and Only-begotten and Incarnate Word, proclaimed as such by all the Prophets and by the Apostles and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth. The scriptures would not have born witness to these things concerning Him, if like everyone else, He were a mere man.”

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand

JWs teach that only 144,000 people will go to heaven.

This group is called the “Anointed.”

This group began with the Apostles and was completed around 1935.

Heaven is now full.

All other people who are righteous before God will inherit an everlasting earthly paradise.

The Old Testament saints could not enter heaven

Dwellers of this earthly paradise are called the

“other sheep”

They believe the true followers of God (Jehovah) are divided into these two groups.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand

This doctrine is unique to the JWs.

It is not found in any historical record prior to 1935 when it was given to Russell’s successor, Judge Joseph Rutherford, in an alleged “revelation.”

JWs defend this belief by appealing to two passages in Scripture

Rev 7:1-8 and Rev 14:1-5

If these passages are taken literally, then only 144,000 celibate Jewish males are the Anointed.

If taken figuratively then the number is symbolic.

But JWs choose take them part figuratively and part literally

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand

“And I heard the number of those sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel” (NWT)

(Rev 7:4)

JWs interpret tribes, sons, and Israel figuratively.

Yet they interpret the number literally.

JWs insist that the word “virgins” in Rev 14:3-4 is symbolic while the number again is literal

Rev 7:9 describes a great crowd that no one could count. This great crowd is in heaven: they stand before the throne of God; they are in the presence of angels, the 24 elders, and the four living creatures.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

The Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand

In Scripture all the followers of Christ are given the hope of heaven.

Heaven is promised to those who suffer for Christ

(Mt 11-12)

St. Paul tells us that the followers of Christ have their citizenship in heaven

(Phil 3:20)

God’s children will see Him as He is

(1 Jn 3:2)

Paul tells us that believers who die before Christ comes again will receive the same reward as believers who are still alive when he comes.

(1 Thes 4:13-18)

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Recent Doctrinal Reversals

For more than 40 years, JWs had been predicting:

“The present wicked system of things, which extends worldwide, entered its last days in 1914, and some of the generation alive then will also be on hand to witness its complete end in the “great tribulation.” The ‘generation’ that was alive at the beginning of the fulfillment of the sign in 1914 is now well along I years. The time remaining must be very short.

(Reasoning from Scripture, 1989 edtion, pp 234, 249).

For 40 years the JWs AWAKE! Magazine had a masthead the stated:

“Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the vents of 1914 passes away.”

On November 8, 1995, the masthead was changed to read:

“a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things.”

Previous failed predictions were 1925 and 1975

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Refusal of Blood Transfusions

JWs believe that the OT prohibitions on the eating of blood

(Gen 9:3-4; Lev 17:14)

are continued in the NT

(Acts 15:28-29)

Mosaic Law did prohibit eating of blood.

Blood transfusions however did not yet exist.

In our time Orthodox Jews have no problem with blood transfusions.

Like the doctrinal predictions of the “great tribulation” JW teachings on vaccination and organ transplant have been cast aside.

JWs do not follow

JWs do not restrict themselves to kosher meats!

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Refusal of Blood Transfusions

The Council of Jerusalem described in Acts 15 was called to deal with Judaizers.

Jewish Christians who insisted gentile converts follow OT ceremonial and disciplinary law.

The council ruled that these laws could not be imposed upon Gentile converts.

The council imposed three dietary restrictions:

They were not to eat blood,

strangled animals,

or food offered to idols.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Refusal of Blood Transfusions

These restrictions were established because of two concerns:

  • Jewish Christians found these foods revolting
    • The early Church wanted both Jewish and Gentile Christians to join in the Christian agape (love) meals
  • These foods were often associated with pagan rituals.

Once these concerns no longer existed,

the early Church lifted the restrictions

(1 Cor 10)

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Annihilation of the Soul

JWs don’t believe that man has a spiritual soul.

They hold that man is a soul.

Since death destroys the man, and man is a soul,

death necessarily destroys the soul.

Jws think that when a person dies,

their soul is annihilated: they cease to exist altogether.

At the end of the world

the whole person will be created again from nothing

The correct doctrine is that man has a spiritual soul which is the life principle of the body.

Because the soul is spiritual,

it is by nature immortal and survives the death of the body.

Thus a person continues in existence after death because the soul, the life principle of the body, cannot die.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Annihilation of the Soul

Reason tells us that human beings have certain abilities

including thinking, willing, and self-reflection

That cannot arise from a purely material substance.

Non-material abilities can only come from a non-material (spiritual) substance.

A spiritual substance cannot die because a spirit has no material parts.

Since a spiritual substance has no parts to break up,

it is naturally immortal.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Annihilation of the Soul

Sacred Scripture

  • God made man in his own image (Gn 1:27), God is by nature a pure spirit (Jn 4:24). Thus their must be a spiritual element in man to reflect the spiritual nature of God.
  • In MT 10:28, Jesus tells us not to fear human beings, because they can only kill the body, not the soul.
  • In MT 17:1-8, Moses appears with Jesus at the transfiguration. Moses died (Dt 34:5). It was his soul that appeared and conversed on the mountain with Jesus.
  • Rev 6:9-10 relates a vision of the souls of the martyrs who died for Christ. They are pleading for those suffering on earth.
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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

Annihilation of the Soul

Sacred Scripture uses the word “soul” in several senses:

  • To indicate the seat of human emotion; Psalm 42:2
  • To mean the whole person: 1 Peter 3:30
  • To designate the spiritual life principle of the body: Mt 10:28 and Rev 6:9-10

All three senses are plainly supported in scripture not just the first two senses focused o by JWs

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

A Temporary Hell

JWs reject the doctrine that hell is eternal.

They believe that at the end of time all wicked humans and devils will be annihilated:

they will totally cease to exist.

In order for God to annihilate spiritual human souls or angelic beings, he would have to contradict the immortal nature he gave them.

God does not act in a contradictory manner.

Just as God will never act against our free will,

he will not contradict the nature he has given us.

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Defending the Faith: Jehovah Witnesses

A Temporary Hell

Sacred Scripture

  • Mt 3:12 states that the wicked are burned with a “fire that cannot be put out.”
  • Mk 9:43 also speaks o the “fire of Gehenna that “cannot be put out.”
  • Rev 20:10 here we are told that the devil, the beast, and the false prophet are “tormented day and night forever and ever.”
  • Mt 18:8 hell is called “everlasting fire.”

St Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp St. Justin Martyr, and St. Theophilus to mention only a few of the many early fathers of the church consistently refer to hell as

“eternal and unquenchable fire.”