EXPLORING THE WORD
Are the Teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses "Christian"?
By Dillon Burroughs
Are Jehovah's Witnesses Christians? According to the Watchtower's website, "Jehovah's Witnesses are Christians, but they are not Protestants for the same reason that they are not Catholics—they recognize certain teachings of those religions as unscriptural." However, this claim is made based on how they define what a Christian is.
The Bible mentions in Acts that those who followed Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26). Why? Because they believed in the teaching of Jesus as taught by the apostles. What was their message? That the resurrected Jesus is God, a teaching rejected by Jehovah's Witnesses who claim Jesus was a created being. Based on this biblical definition, official Watchtower teachings would not be defined as Christian.
In addition, Jehovah's Witness teachings hold many other views regarding Jesus that are at odds with the New Testament. According to Watchtower teachings, in His pre-human state, Jesus was the archangel Michael, the first created being. He was also called the Logos, "the second greatest personage of the universe." In His human state, they claim that Jesus was nothing more than a perfect human being. In His post-human state, they teach that He was recreated as a glorious immortal spirit creature, ascended into Heaven, and is now the head under Jehovah of God's capital organization over the entire universe.
These beliefs stand in direct contrast with the Bible's teachings that Christ is fully man and also fully God (John 1:1; 5:18; 10:30; 20:28; Titus 2:13; Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:1-8). Further, the Bible is clear that as God, Christ is eternal, not created (Micah 5:2; John 1:1-3).
One concerning result of these teachings is that Jehovah's Witnesses are taught not to pray to Jesus, only to Jehovah. Yet the first Christian martyr, Stephen, prayed directly to Jesus just before his death, stating, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit...Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7:59-60). If Stephen could pray to Jesus, why shouldn't other followers of Jesus? This passage has been a difficult one for the Watchtower to navigate, and also a passage used to help many former Jehovah's Witnesses pray to Jesus and come to faith in Him as Christ.
Watchtower teachings alter the fundamental identity of Jesus, the very founder of Christianity. If Jesus was created, formerly existed as an angel, was not God on earth, did not die on a cross, did not physically resurrect from the dead, did not ascend to Heaven, and will not literally return as Lord, then the Jesus of the Watchtower is certainly not the Jesus presented in the Bible. As a result, we must conclude that the teachings of the Watchtower are not Christian as defined by the Bible itself.
Image Credit: Steve Sadowski; "Patterson New York 2014"; Creative Commons
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