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Beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses
The religious beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses are in many ways similar to those of mainstream Christians. For instance, Witnesses rely on the authority of the Bible, worship only one God, and trust in Jesus' death and resurrection for salvation.
Some other beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses differ from mainstream Christianity, most notably their rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity and the existence of Hell. Witnesses also have stronger apocalyptic expectations than most Christians - since the founding of the group, Witnesses have been expecting the imminent arrival of Armageddon and the end times.
The following article summarizes the doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses, noting where they agree and disagree with mainstream Christian doctrines.
In agreement with most conservative Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses affirm the full inspiration of the Bible by God and the preservation of its copies over the centuries. Witnesses see the Bible as a gift from God that tells humans about what God is like, how to cope with problems, and how to please God. Witnesses use a special translation of the Bible - the New World Translation.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe in one God, the Creator of the universe and the God of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. They stress the fact that God has revealed his personal name to humanity, which is Jehovah. Jehovah has a spirit body and lives in heaven, but sees all things. Jehovah's Witnesses reject the doctrine of the Trinity.
Jehovah's Witnesses disagree with the mainstream Christian belief that Jesus was "fully God, fully man." Witnesses teach that Jesus was not God, but rather God's first creation. Jesus existed in pre-human form as God's agent of creation and God's chief spokesman (the Word), and took on human form as the man Jesus by means of a virgin birth.
The purpose of Jesus' incarnation on earth was threefold in the view of Witnesses: (1) To teach the truth about God; (2) to provide a model of a perfect life for people to follow; and (3) to sacrifice his life to set humans free from sin and death. His crucifixion was not on a cross, but a single upright stake. After his death, God raised Jesus from the dead "as a spirit creature" and Jesus returned to his home in heaven. Jesus was not made King, however, until 1914
In accordance with their rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity, Witnesses disagree with mainstream Christianity that the Holy Spirit is one of the three Persons in the Godhead. Instead, they believe the Holy Spirit to be "God's active force."
Like most Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses trace humanity's current situation to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden. The disobedience of the first couple caused death to enter the world, and as a result, all human beings get sick, age, and die. This is against God's plan, which was to make the entire Earth a paradise.
However, Witnesses do not emphasize the spiritual consequences of Adam's sin on humanity nor they teach that human free will has been damaged. Rather, Witnesses expect and encourage their members to strive to do God's will and remain pure in his eyes.
Meaning of Life and Salvation
For Jehovah's Witnesses, the purpose of life is to earn the right to participate in God's future Kingdom on earth, and to help others to do so. Witnesses therefore focus on living a moral, acceptable life before God and witnessing about their faith to others.
Witnesses believe that salvation was made possible through Christ's death, who made up for the sin of Adam. But eternal life comes not simply from faith in Jesus but from "learning about Jehovah and obeying his requirements," proving oneself to be God's loyal subject, and listening to the Kingdom message and acting on it.
Jehovah's Witnesses deny the existence of hell. Instead, they hold that the souls of the wicked will be annihilated. The death that Adam brought into the world is spiritual as well as physical, and only those who gain entrance into the Kingdom of God will exist eternally. However, this division will not occur until Armageddon, when all people will be resurrected and given a chance to gain eternal life. In the meantime, "the dead are conscious of nothing."
Witnesses also have a slightly different view of heaven than mainstream Christianity. Based on their reading of prophetic books like Daniel and Revelation, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only 144,000 people will go to heaven to rule with God and Jesus. The remainder of the righteous will enjoy paradise on earth - a restored Garden of Eden in which there is no sickness, old age, death or unhappiness.
A belief that is unique to Jehovah's Witnesses is that the eschatological events predicted in Revelation began in 1914. This is when God gave Jesus his Kingdom, and Jesus has been ruling from heaven ever since. At this time Jesus threw Satan and his demons out of heaven and down to earth, which is why, according to Witnesses, the world has been getting progressively worse since 1914.
Jehovah's Witnesses look forward to a theocracy, in which all human governments are abolished and God rules the entire earth himself. This is expected to occur soon. Although Witnesses once predicted specific dates for this event, they now state that "the Bible does not give a date for these events, but it provides evidence to show that we are living in 'the last days' of this troubled world."
Jehovah's Witnesses consider themselves true Christians, but most mainstream Christians do not agree that they are. The feeling is mutual, however: Jehovah's Witnesses deny that other Christian groups are true Christians.
"Christendom" is defined as that part of the world where
Christianity prevails. It is largely the Western world with its church
systems, which from about the fourth century C.E. became prominent. ...
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