What’s the Difference Between True Christianity and the Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Marking differences between true Christianity and the Jehovah’s Witnesses can be a bit tricky because both religions use similar language. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, call themselves Christians who believe the Bible and look to Jesus as the one who saves us and will give us eternal life. However, when you dig deeper, major differences can be found between these two faiths that push them worlds apart.
As a principle, the mark of a false religion can be determined by comparing it to the Christian view on five major points. A false religion will differ on one or more of the following:
- A different God
- A different Jesus
- A different gospel
- A different afterlife
- A different revelation
Let’s examine the Jehovah’s Witness faith in these areas.
A different God?
Do Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses worship the same God? Certainly many would say so, but this cannot be the case. There are a variety of reasons for this but the primary one is that Christians believe in a triune God while Witnesses definitively do not. The Christian view of God is that there is one God who exists in three persons; Father, Son, and Spirit. There are not three God’s but one.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, reject this to say there is one God who exists alone as Jehovah. In fact the “Jehovah’s Witnesses official website” at www.watchtower.org devotes a lengthy article to refuting the Trinity, including quoting Yale University professor E. Washburn Hopkins “To Jesus and Paul the doctrine of the trinity was apparently unknown…they say nothing about it.” In addition, the article essentially suggests that Christian belief in the Trinity is the apostasy (falling away of true worship of God) that the Bible declared to be coming in future times. In other words, they are rejecting Christianity as a false religion.
A different Jesus?
Jehovah’s Witnesses also have a different view of Jesus. Although they refer to him as the Son of God and also the Savior of the world, just as Christians do, there are significant differences. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is not eternal but rather is a created being, that he was originally the Archangel Michael (and became Christ upon his virgin birth), and that he is lesser than God the Father.
The Christian view is that Jesus was not created but rather is the Creator of all and that he is in fact God.
A different gospel?
Christianity rightly taught says that salvation and forgiveness of sins takes place not based on what we do (our good works), but rather by the grace of God. We cannot earn God’s favor or blessing no matter how holy a life we live, because each person is a sinner and therefore unholy. Because Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins, placing faith in him means that our sins are atoned for and we are seen as holy in God’s eyes.
The Jehovah’s Witness believe that grace is merely the opportunity to saved, and that actual salvation is based on works – obeying completely the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witness religion. Additionally, Jehovah’s Witnesses recognize two classes of “saved” people: 144,000 fortunate followers who will dwell in heaven, and all other Jehovah’s Witnesses who will dwell in paradise on earth.
A different afterlife?
As stated above, Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses differ on their views of heaven. The same is true of hell, as Christians hold to a hell that is conscious and eternal, while Jehovah’s Witnesses essentially see hell as the common grave of mankind and that unbelievers simply cease to exist after death.
A different revelation?
Perhaps the crucial crux to this lies here: where does each faith get their beliefs? Both Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses turn to the Bible. However, it is not the same Bible! Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the true revelation of God is contained in the version of the Bible kept and produced by the Watchtower Society and that all other versions have been tampered with and are to be rejected. In addition, only understandings of the Bible promoted by the Watchtower Society are correct, and individual interpretation of the Bible is condemned. The Watchtower Society is essentially seen as God’s visible representatives on earth and should be obeyed as the voice of God himself.
The Christian Bible, on the other hand, is kept and produced by dozens of publishers, making it easier to identify adapted versions. Not surprisingly, the version published by the Watchtower Society has changed key verses about Jesus and salvation, revealing it as an untrustworthy version. Think of it this way: in court, the same story told by multiple witnesses would be considered more accurate than a different story told by a single witness. Logic concludes that the Watchtower Society has changed the true revealed Word of God.